innovation through appropriation

From Gates, by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews, loc 9378:

Developers trying to cut deals with Microsoft often divulged their technology and/or their business plans. According to the complainants, Microsoft then used the knowledge for its own gain. The case of Go was the most widely publicized. The Silicon Valley startup, headed by ex-Lotusian Jerry Kaplan and Framework author Robert Carr, had shown Microsoft its technology for a new pen-based operating system with the understanding that Microsoft might want to write applications for it. Instead Microsoft later announced that it would adapt pen-based technology to Windows—a project headed by the chief engineer from the group that got an early look at Go’s effort. “Microsoft stretched the truth a lot,” said Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of VisiCalc and vice president of Slate, an independent developer working with both Go and Microsoft. “They’d have you believe they’ve been working as long as Go. We knew when it became more earnest. They clearly were reacting to Go and OEMs Go was dealing with.” “Stretching the truth,” on the other hand, was the way Slate’s chairman and CEO Vern Raburn described Go’s complaints. “The only thing Go did was they got Microsoft starting to think about it. Did Microsoft plagiarize? Did they lift? Did they take things? No. Absolutely not. Other than, well, what would it be like to use a pen?” Microsoft agreed: No code was stolen. And upon looking at other systems, the company tended to believe it could do better. As David Weise said of a similar scenario regarding a Micrografx product called Mirrors, “let’s just say [they] thought much better of their code than we ever did, and we didn’t steal a thing. It was just bad code.”

About Mark