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Old 23 July 2007, 00:57   #36
Citizen of Elthesh
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: London, UK
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Prior to Phoenix, IBM threw the weight of their enormous legal muscle against anyone who cloned the BIOS in their PC. Phoenix did a clean room design. None of the programmers working on the Phoenix BIOS had ever seen the IBM PC BIOS. In fact, Phoenix went out of their way to hire programmers who had never even worked on the 8088/8086 processor chips used in early IBM PCs.

But that alone might not have sufficed. IBM could have tied them up in legal restraining orders, etc. and watched them go bankrupt while the case inched its way through the US court system.

The real genius, was the Phoenix had a huge legal insurance policy through Lloyd's of London. This gave Phoenix the ability to survive such an attack. As a result IBM didn't sue Phoenix and once the proverbial cat was out of the bag, they didn't sue most other BIOS clone produces unless they were outright copies.
They had an engineer(s) write specs based on the either the source code or possibly their own disassembly of the IBM BIOS, then handed that off to different set of engineers to create their own non-infringing code.
So that's the answer, funny programming practices and good legal insurance.

Last edited by eLowar; 23 July 2007 at 00:59. Reason: added another interesting quote
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