PS. For better or worse, Tim's very successful at his 2nd accomplishment :-)
PPS: in a similar vein, I highly recommend the WSJ's Year 1000
edition, free from wsj.com -- it's a massive education on the
non-white, non-Western history of the planet, extremely refreshing.
World Wide Web Creator
Currently director, World Wide Web Consortium, and principal research
scientist at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science
15 YEARS AGO: "I was working at Image Computer Systems, in Ferndown,
Dorset, England. I had applied to CERN, the European Laboratory for
Particle Physics, in Geneva, and been accepted for a fellowship the
MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENT: "The spread of the Internet. If the Internet
had not slowly displaced proprietary networks, as well as Europe's
attempt to build its own protocols, then the Web would not have been
possible. By 1989, when I first proposed the Web, the Internet was
well-established in the United States and was making big inroads in
GREATEST PERSONAL IMPACT: "Was it my boss, Mike Sendall, allowing me
to go ahead and program a global hypertext space? Was it unwrapping
the NeXT from its box? My working life, looked back on, seems not to
have one item, but a morass of memorable things."
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: "Inventing the World Wide Web and learning
to say 'no' to requests to travel places."
HIGH-TECH IN 2014 AND ROLE: "The Web will have a new aspect--Webs of
data between all the databases, forming a semantic Web, which
programs will be able to surf automatically. There will be a whole
new world in which a smart algorithm will be able to take advantage
of everything out there and draw new conclusions, put deals together
and, possibly, make a lot of money! A combination of the semantic Web
with digital signature will produce, I hope, a Web of trust in which
human trust is faithfully echoed in the Web of signed documents. We
will be able to form groups, dream and trade in confidence, with
software agents running around doing the boring work for us. I have
no idea what my role will be, but I know the World Wide Web
Consortium will have its role as a meeting place for those who are
concerned about the Web's future for a good few years yet."
Co-founder, Compaq Computer Corp.
Currently chairman/CEO, Insource Technology Group
15 YEARS AGO: "I was president and CEO of Compaq. We had just
completed our first year of sales with an incredible $111 million. We
had also just completed our IPO and raised $66 million. Our stock
opened at $11 and went up to $14. Then all hell broke loose. Our
sales simply dried up in January. The reason was that IBM had begun
showing their portable PC to the dealers, and the predictions of
Compaq's demise had already started. If that weren't bad enough,
Apple announced the Macintosh in February. Our stock plummeted. What
looked like a silver bullet, however, went whizzing past our ear--our
sales took off after customers continued to buy the Compaq portable
over the IBM portable, and our sales for 1984 continued at a record
pace up to $329 million."
MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENT: "The most significant event occurred on Sept.
9, 1988. That was the day the "gang of nine," led by Compaq,
announced that the PC industry would not blindly follow IBM down the
Micro Channel path to long-term IBM domination. At this point, the
survival of the industry standard based on Windows and the X86
architecture was assured, and the keys to the kingdom were passed
from IBM to Microsoft and Intel. Had Compaq followed IBM to Micro
Channel, all the other PC makers would have followed as well. IBM
would have regained tight control over technology progress, and the
world would be in a much different place--especially Microsoft and
Co-founder/Chairman/Ceo, America Online Inc.
15 YEARS AGO: "I was managing marketing for a company called Control
Video Corp. that planned to distribute video games through a modem
that was connected to an Atari game machine. Unfortunately, the
bottom fell out of the Atari market, and CVC came crashing down. From
the ashes of CVC, we created a new company in 1985 that set up online
services for major computer companies. That new company is now
America Online."... "Before we started AOL, I worked as a marketing
executive for Procter & Gamble and Pizza Hut.
[Case was born in Hawaii]
Currently senior vice president of Internet architecture and
technology, MCI WorldCom Inc.
15 YEARS AGO: "In 1984 I was leading the design and implementation of
the MCI Mail electronic messaging service. Internally, we called it
the Digital Post Office. I was VP [of] engineering for the MCI Data
and Information Services Co. I lived in Camelot in northern Virginia.
I had a couple of Apple IIe's at home. We used IBM, Digital and HP
mainframes and minis for the e-mail service; BBN's X.25 switches; and
GREATEST PERSONAL IMPACT: "The then-president of Rockefeller
University, Joshua Lederberg, sat on the board of a company I served
as vice president for--the Corporation for National Research
Initiatives. Bob Kahn (my partner in the original Internet design)
served as president. After I had given a long presentation about
plans for a Digital Library project, Josh looked at me and said,
'Vint, do something!' I thought that was pretty succinct advice, and
I've tried to follow it ever since."
HIGH-TECH IN 2014 AND ROLE: "High-tech will have a heavy
bioelectronic component. Bioelectronic prostheses will proliferate
(e.g., cochlear implants, muscle control devices). The Internet will
be ubiquitous, and most devices will be online all the time--wired
and wireless. Software will be a major, if not the major, source of
new products and services. We will still be struggling to make
software development efficient and to manage the increasing
complexity of the interaction of millions, if not billions, of
software-enabled devices linked by networks. I hope I am still around
to marvel at what others have accomplished and to continue to
stimulate and encourage creative, out-of-the-box thinking by new
Founder/Chairman/CEO, Dell Computer Corp.
15 YEARS AGO: "I had just embarked on my first major business
venture: I had recently registered our industry's first direct
computer company as PC's Limited (which later became Dell Computer
Corp.). I was selling between $50,000 and $80,000 a month in upgraded
IBM PCs, upgrade kits and add-on components, and the profits allowed
me to move from my freshmen dorm at the University of Texas to a nice
condominium nearby. I was using an IBM PC because we hadn't yet
introduced our own Dell-designed PC. That intro came about two months
later, and you can be sure I was the first of many IBM customers to
switch to Dell!"
Co-founder/Chairman/CEO Microsoft Corp.
15 YEARS AGO: "I was doing much the same kind of thing I'm doing
today--working to build great software and to keep our product teams
focused on offering consumers the best value for [their] money. I was
living near Seattle, working on the fast-growing Microsoft campus and
using MS-DOS. I was also staying up much later than I do today and
working more weekends. And getting a lot of speeding tickets."
Founder/Chairman, Intel Corp.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: "Intel is still around."
HIGH-TECH IN 2014 AND ROLE: "I'll be 77, and my role will be to
reminisce about the 'early years,' when PCs were all beige and they
used to crash for no good reason at all. Those were the days."
Founder, Lotus Development Corp. Currently partner, Accel Partners.
GREATEST PERSONAL IMPACT: "The success and expanding dominance of
Microsoft has been the defining fact of the past 15 years. I
predicted that they would 'win it all' in my private journal in 1984.
Its combination of strategic smarts and ruthlessness has undeniably
been the master formula for success. The final lesson won't be drawn
until it becomes clear where we draw the line in society about what
constitutes acceptable ways to win."
CEO/Chairman, Sun Microsystems Inc.
GREATEST PERSONAL IMPACT: "Two lessons have stayed fresh in my mind
since 1989. That was the year Sun lost money and almost went bankrupt
when we turned on our new MIS system on a mainframe. We had record
bookings, record backlog, record inventory and lost money in the
quarter (the only time we ever lost money), and the banks almost took
control. This taught me two things: 1) You need a CIO because
mainframe computing is a hard-to-manage hairball, and 2) try not to
borrow money when you need it."
Founder, Novell Inc. Currently chairman, Canopy Group
15 YEARS AGO: "I was approached by Safeguard Scientific to join a
little company in Utah called Novell Data Systems, or they were going
to shut it down. Those are the kind of risks I like, plus I got back
to my home state."
Currently software engineer, Transmeta Corp.
15 YEARS AGO: "I was in my early teens, and my computer system was a
MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENT: "Cheap and ubiquitous hardware. Just the fact
that in the last 15 years, computers went from being something used
at big companies and universities to something anybody could afford.
IBM and Intel get a lot of the credit for the PC explosion, but I
think it was originally machines like the Apple II (and yes, my dear
old VIC-20, too) that paved the way for 'normal people' to have
GREATEST PERSONAL IMPACT: "This probably sounds corny, but I think
the biggest impact came with [my] first course in Unix at the
University of Helsinki. I'd been programming for half my life before
that, so computers weren't anything new to me per se. But what was
new was that with Unix I got the strong sense of trying to program
with the operating system rather than work around it. That,
obviously, was one of the initial pushes for what was to become
Linux." [RK: he's one of the only bachelors on the all-male list;
everyone else cited their wives and kids...]
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: "Being able to work together with others--to
take advantage of what other people on the Internet did
with a project that started out as a purely personal one. Standing on
the shoulders of giants, indeed."
HIGH-TECH IN 2014 AND ROLE: "My crystal ball just rebooted spontaneously."
Estridge: Gone, but not forgotten
Any retrospective that looks at the personal computer era would be
incomplete without mention of Philip "Don" Estridge.
The first IBM PC was engineered and brought to market in 1981 by a
team of engineers led by Estridge, an IBM engineer himself whom many
consider to be the father of the PC.
As president of IBM's Entry Systems Division in 1984, Estridge was
also a strong force behind IBM's first Token-Ring LAN, which quickly
gained in popularity.
Estridge did not live to see these successes. A 22-year IBM veteran,
Estridge died tragically with his wife in an August 1985 jetliner
it was Microsoft Corp.'s Visual Basic, which debuted in 1991, that
set a new standard for every subsequent tool to match--at least in
programmer convenience, though not in application speed or in
robustness of software engineering.... [Does anyone remember
Microsoft's total committment to CD-ROMs in the very early days? the
conferences, the MS Press books, the evangelizing?]
1990-1993: The age of creation: When Tim Berners-Lee applied
hypertext to the Internet and coined the term "World Wide Web," he
envisioned a way for easy collaboration on projects. What he got was
one of the signature innovations of our time, transferring the
academic Internet into a medium that has changed how information is
1994-1995: The age of the Web: In the nine years since Berners-Lee
developed the first Web browser and server while at CERN, the World
Wide Web has evolved to the point of ubiquity. Information and
publishing were the first driving forces on the Web, spurred in late
1993 by the release of Mosaic and its use of graphics.
1996-1998: The age of commerce: The general business community is now
realizing the potential of the Web and searching for tools to rein in
its power. Improved security has helped ease consumer fears about
buying on the Web, while new technologies such as XML have smoothed
the path for companies to do business over the Internet.
Nearly 15 years old itself, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows epitomizes the
savvy-over-smart culture that has led to Microsoft's success.
Initially a pale imitation of the GUI introduced in the Mac OS,
Windows has been prone to bugs and is hobbled by its DOS
underpinnings. However, Microsoft has shown time and again that
attention to backward compatibility, mundane but productivity-driving
needs, developer support and OEM deals are more important to the
success of an operating system than technical merit alone, resulting
in the mass adoption of Windows on the desktop. Microsoft in 1993
applied this formula for success to drive adoption of Windows NT in
the server room and on the engineer's desktop, catching Novell Inc.
and Unix vendors off guard.
13. My Favorite Memo: In a 1994 memo, Chairman Bill said he felt it
was time to tighten budgetary belts. The internal memo, titled
"Shrimp and Weenie Guidelines," stated, "Novell recently announced
(yet another) record quarter of revenue growth and profitability. The
frosting on this cake was to lay off 4 percent of their 3,600
employees. Novell is serving weenies, not shrimp."
11. DECworld, 1992: Digital CEO Ken Olsen excitedly talked about new
VAX enclosures with "cherry-rubbed finishes" so they would blend
easily into office settings.
10. Warren Buffett and Willie Nelson [Willie Nelson?! I guess that's
one more six-degrees of separation story for ya -- hi Duck!] got in,
but Katt spy Rich Duffy was pried off the side of a cliff and ejected
by security as he tried to snap photos of Bill Gates' 1994 New Year's
Day wedding on the Hawaiian island of Lanai.
9. SunWorld '95 attendees witnessed some stupid pet tricks as Sun CEO
Scott McNealy unsuccessfully tried to coax a 135-pound Greater Swiss
Mountain dog called Network to urinate on four cardboard fire
hydrants labeled DEC, IBM, HP and Microsoft.
4. At the 1993 PC Forum, Congressman Ed Markey maligned the PC
industry for lacking a federal lobbying effort. To that, Lotus' Jim
Manzi snorted, "I'm not relying on the government to make my
applications more competitive with Microsoft."
2. Jack Ransom, a former IBM employee, introduced a line of wines in
1987 called Big Blue. The winery's label used bar lettering similar
to IBM's logo and gained national exposure via an AP story
speculating on whether or not the Armonk legal department would take
Do you remember?
By PC Week Staff
March 1, 1999 9:00 AM ET
Test your knowledge of computing trivia to see how many of the
now-obsolete companies, products, partnerships and terms you can
remember that made the headlines over the years.
15 companies that enjoyed 15 minutes of fame
1. DeScribe Inc.
2. Digital Communications Associates Inc.
3. Digital Research Inc.
4. Parallan Computer Inc.
5. Power Computing Inc.
6. Leading Edge Products Inc.
7. Multimate International Corp.
8. Northgate Computer Systems Inc.
9. Microrim Inc.
10. Paperback Software International
11. Samna Corp.
12. Slate Corp.
13. Fox Software Inc.
14. Go Corp./Eo Inc.
15. Ventura Software Inc.
15 products that were better off dead, ahead of their time, behind
the curve, or never saw the light of day
1. HP NewWave
2. Micro Channel PS/2
3. Personal VAX
4. Portable NetWare
5. Pen Windows and PenPoint
6. LAN Manager
8. Microsoft Bob
9. Momenta stylus PC
10. "Pink" operating system
11. Poqet PC
13. NeXT workstation
14. IBM PCjr
15. Lotus Javelin
15 pairings, partnerships or purchases that ultimately crashed and burned
3. ACE (Advanced Computing Environment) Consortium
7. COSE (Common Open Software Environment)
11. Computer Associates-CSC
13. Lou Gerstner-Jim Manzi
14. Compaq-Rod Canion
15. Steve Jobs-Gil Amelio
15 outdated terms
1. copy protection
2. bus mastering
3. floptical disk
4. office automation software
5. protected mode
10. terminate and stay resident
11. information highway
12. DIP switch
13. RAM cram
[Mind you, Ballmer is the *same age* !]
President, Microsoft Corp.
Bill Gates has said he will not manage Microsoft beyond his 50th
birthday, which falls on Oct. 28, 2005. The golden anniversary of
Gates' birth will pave the way for his longtime No. 2 and college
buddy, Steve Ballmer, to take over.
But if the government wins its case and successfully breaks up
Microsoft, as some predict, which company will Ballmer inherit? The
one that he picks at the time of divestiture, which could take place,
say, two years from now, will be critical.
Some pundits expect Microsoft to spin off four "Baby Bills" and that
Ballmer will pick the interactive media venture, which will include
The Microsoft Network and MSNBC. Ballmer is tired of the
last-generation operating system and applications areas because,
well, they're just too boring.
The danger: By the time the fiery Ballmer gets to be No. 1, he may
not be so fiery.
Still, he's one hell of an executive. He's not a techie, but his
dedication to customers has been indispensable at Microsoft. Expect
that to carry over to the new company. His relentless drive and
marketing savvy would give any business a boost but will be
particularly advantageous in an interactive media endeavor. Above
all, he'll want to prove to the world that Gates was not necessary
for him to have become a success. We're betting he'll continue to
make his mark long after Gates retires.