Introduction

The story of BIOS starts at the end of the seventies, when Intel Corp. launched two new types of microprocessors, the 8086 and the 8088. IBM Corp. decided to build a computer based on the 8088, probably brought to this idea by the success of Apple. IBM contacted a small, young and aggressive company in Seattle, Microsoft. Both companies agreed to build an operating system for the "Personal Computer", that would consist of two parts. One part, the Basic Input/Output System, was added to the system hardware in the form of Read-Only-Memory (ROM). The other part, the operating system was available on disk (diskette at first). The operating system consists of a series of programs that should communicate with the BIOS in ROM, and a series of socalled utilities, available for additional tasks, such as formatting. This part of the operating system was called Disk Operating System or DOS.

This system became a fact in August 1981, when IBM started to market her IBM Personal Computer, the PC. The success of the PC exceeded the wildest expectations. No wonder that lots of electronics companies throughout the world tried to benefit from this success. Soon a lively industry developed (floppy drives, hard drives, monitors, software, etc.). Of course there also were companies who asked themselves if it would be possible to copy IBM's PC with impunity and sell their 'clone' as their own product. It wasn't that difficult to produce such a clone. All the hardware components were available on the market. The only problem was the BIOS, copyrighted by IBM. IBM did not license the BIOS. Some companies copied the BIOS, but were sued and had to pay enormous claims.

The clone manufacturers were forced to develop their own BIOS in a socalled 'clean room' situation. The first company to successfully develop their own BIOS was Compaq Computer Corp. And it is said that a company called Phoenix Software Associates in Norwood has been involved with the development of this BIOS.