Kraig Brockschmidt, Creator of Calc, on the Early Days at Microsoft

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I had the distinct privilege of spending some time with Kraig Brockschmidt a long time Microsoftie who wrote the scientific calculator for Windows 3! He describes some of his early work as a support engineer, the joys of the early OS, and how that revision of the calculator came about. He was kind enough to send in some early-days photos that we happily interleaved into the video. I hope you enjoy our discussion as much as I did!

Some handy links:



The Discussion

  • User profile image

    wow 1:19; that is fabulous

  • User profile image

    @ronaldo:My wife and mother-in-law drew that poster for me...the second picture is from the day I graduated from the University of Washington in August of 1990. :)

  • User profile image

    Very nice interview!  Your OLE book was the foundation of my early carrier at Adobe and MSFT. You also reminded me of the good old days where every team openly planted some sort of an easter egg in their products and as a matter of fact there is at least one very geeky easter egg in Windows that survived till today that I know off but will not disclose :)  

    Its great to see you back!


  • User profile image

    Excellent Video. I'm just off now to hang up my floppy disks.

  • User profile image

    Nice revisionism – the original calc.exe was written by Chris Peters, Mark Cliggett (of cardfile and heapwalker fame) and Marc Taylor. Yes, you’re right a guy from product support added a lot of buttons to it. But the original one was actually so simple both for disk space reasons and with the idea that a 3rd party ISV could make a better one. The MS Windows 1, 2 and 3 developers were pissed actually Kraig got his name in the About Box. Doesn’t seem very ‘intentionally spriritual’, nor does it ‘embrace clarity’ to take credit for the “original calc.exe” – but we can’t tell you how to live your life. Ride the Karma train, Kraig!

    Funny story: the original calc.exe used calls to RoundRect(), but the GDI implementation proved to be WAY too slow, so the rounded rects were drawn from bitmaps BitBlt’d from off screen memory.

  • User profile image

    @jcp: Thanks for filling in that part of the history! And thanks also for the criticism. I'll have Seth revise the description, which I didn't see see before this video went live. I certainly don't claim credit for the "original" calc--my contributions started in Windows 3, and the interview makes that clear. Unfortunately, there's a human tendency to inject hyperbole into stories. Long ago I was credited for being "the mind behind OLE" which was complete nonsense, because all I did was explain it reasonably well! Anyway, I appreciate you point out a few of my many flaws. :) I do try to live with positive intention, but cannot claim perfection. Otherwise I don't think I'd still be on this planet!

  • User profile image

    nice vid!

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