Stories - CD Mastering in 1993

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In the spring of 1993 Scott was working at IBM research and responsible for a group that developed and supported an OS/2 application platform. One morning before work while watching the Today show Scott learned that Philips was about to bring a consumer CD burner to market, with a list price of $6,000. At this point the only way to burn a CD was using a Sony solution that cost over $25,000. After justifying the expense to his management, the hunt was on for Scott to find a vendor, remember this was before the Internet and Google. He located a Philips Value Added Reseller in Atlanta who would not only provide the burner, but also the DOS software, and blank CDRs. At that time blanks were $45 each, they were actually made of gold, and this price required that you bought at least 100 at a time.

The CD Mastering software was real 1.0 code running on DOS, and it would often take me three or four tries to successfully burn a single CD. Scott's initial objective was to build a CD using a menu system the OS/2 Tools team developed for installing software from the network. This would enable them to provide installation from CDs for other sites that wanted to use Watson's OS/2 CORE Platform.

Ten years earlier while in college Scott had experimented with boot loaders on floppies and looked very closely at how TRSDOS, LDOS, NewDOS and others actually worked. Scott used this knowledge to explore how OS/2 loaded. IBM PS/2 desktop computers couldn't boot from CD so a single floppy was required. Scott crafted an OS/2 lite boot diskette that would load enough drivers from the floppy so that the hard disk, video, and CDROM devices could be recognized and used. At this point Scott enlisted another member of his team,
Damien Scott, who provided the final piece of code to trick OS/2 into thinking the CDROM was the second floppy drive and from that point on it was trivial to finish the installation. This process enabled someone to receive a single OS/2 CD, and from this disc they could create the necessary boot floppy and install OS/2. Prior to this process OS/2 required 12 floppies to install.

Next Scott worked with
Tom Rogers from Watson's OS/2 tools group to adapt his menu application for installing programs from a network drive to installing them from a CD drive. This would allow Watson to distribute a single CD with OS/2, and all the programs someone might want so researchers could install systems easily regardless of where they were. All this progress caught the attention of IBM's OS/2 group in Boca Raton Florida.

John Soyring, IBM's VP Personal Software Products, requested that Scott technically lead a team in Boca to build something he envisioned as a Professional Developers Kit. So Scott and Dameon, his wingman and right hand, packed their bags for several weeks and delivered the first ever OS/2 Professional Develop's Kit (PDK). Dameon knew the menu system better than almost anyone except it's author, Tom Rogers. Scott handled content aggregation, documentation, packaging, mastering, and duplication. Dameon handled menus, miscellaneous scripting and testing. The VAR in Atlanta had a CD press and could turn out 100s of copies an hour within 6-24 hours of receiving a master CDR from Scott. John Soyring had a busy show schedule that fall and on several occasions we were shipping out CDRs on commercial flights as cargo via Delta Dash. Soyring would receive product level, and volume copies, often thousands of CDs, only several days after a master was burned in Boca and shipped to Atlanta for duplication. At on point early in the process the OS/2 PDK CD contained 43 floppies. All of IBM's programming languages, OS/2 tools, networking tools, editors, a version of MS Windows that could co-exist with OS/2, IBM's equivalent of the
OS/2 kitchen sink.

One would think that figuring out how to install an operating system from CD, when it had never been done before, and for creating the first ever OS/2 Professional Developer's Kit would have been worthy of an IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement (OTA) award. Scott would have to wait five more years, and switch divisions before he received an OTA. After the dust settled, and a little pressure from Watson, Boca came up with PC Company Divisional Awards for Scott, Damien and Tom, for their work with the OS/2 Team and production of the PDK.