January 19, 2004 at 7:26 am #20599
Hi Ken (and everyone),
I have a question about King’s Quest 1 and IBM.
If I’m not mistaken, IBM approched Sierra so that you would make a new game that could make full use of the capabilities of the soon-to-be-released IBM PCjr.
I suppose IBM paid a large part (if not all?) of the development costs, in exchange of the IBM publishing in their own case and design. It seems to have literally saved the Sierra company back in the days (correct me if I’m mistaken!).
Now, what I do not understand, is how could the publishing contract be that you so quickly re-published the exact same game for the PC, and more importantly for the new Tandy 1000, which was a competing copy of the PCjr. The Tandy version displays the Sierra and Tandy logos, but no IBM logo…
Did you have an agreement with IBM after they decided to drop the PCjr? Or did you buy the rights from IBM?
Thanks in advance for your replies and comments,
January 19, 2004 at 5:35 pm #20600
(re: Sierra and IBM relationship) Vincent:
You are right about everything you posted. IBM did fund the development of Kings Quest I for the PCJr .. and, the game did save Sierra (we had lost a ton of money making video games).
IBM did not ask for any sort of exclusivity in their agreement, which allowed us to to market the code, with almost no changes, on the Tandy 1000. It was a HUGE hit.
The reason IBM didn’t ask for an exclusive is interesting…
At the time, IBM was dominant, and in fact, so dominant that they feared anti-trust action. IBM, 25 years ago, was in the position that Microsoft is in now. IBM was afraid that they might be broken up by the government. This meant that their contract administration group was extremely worried about anything in an agreement that could be deemed monopolistic. We didn’t have to ask for non-exclusivity – IBM never asked for it, and didn’t seem to want it.
The PCJr bombed, but the Tandy 1000 was a hit. IBM did quite well with the PC, so everything turned out fine for everyone.
PS One other interesting piece of history. I dealt at the time directly with a gentleman at IBM named Don Estridge, who many considered the father of the IBM PC. Don was a strong supporter of Sierra and of our word processor, Homeworks. Sadly, he and his wife died in a plane crash (I think it was an American Airlines flight going into Dallas) just after the launch of the IBM PC. I remember a quote from him: “If you want to compete with people in a garage, you have to build a garage” He was referring to his vision that IBM could compete with Apple, at a time when IBM was a giant lumbering beast, and Apple was a nimble young company.
January 20, 2004 at 5:20 am #20601
(re: re: Sierra and IBM relationship)
Thanks for the reply. It all makes sense now.
Another piece of trivia:
I have remembered that I bought a PCjr keyboard in 2000 from Jeff Cope, one of the beta-testers of King’s Quest at IBM.
Here’s what he told me:
“Mine Shaft, remember it well. FYI, I worked for IBM back when the PCJr was coming out and actually was in the department that put out those cartridge games. Remember King’s Quest? I was one of the 2 testers at IBM for it. Ahhh, the good old days. :-)”
I still have his e-mail and postal addresses if you are interested. They may not be current though.
January 21, 2004 at 12:28 am #20602
(re: Sierra and IBM relationship)
Do pass along his info to me, by clicking on my name you can send me a message. I will see about getting in touch with him to get his further memories on those early days for my archival project.