Friday, January 23, 2009

As I Reminisce, And Also About Microsoft

In the late 70's, I was a young computer scientist working at Bell Labs...God those were heady days indeed and we created much including UNIX, C+, and all the trappings. My dream was to build HAL from the 2001 Kubrick movie...obviously this was never realized.

Then the government broke up the Bell System and in so doing, destroyed the most creative organization in history...Bell Labs...where inventions included Hi-Fidelity, the Laser, and the Big Bang primordial hiss among other things.

So IBM took the mantle. Then-CEO John (I want to change my first name now) Akers proclaimed that by 1990 or so they would have $100B in revenue; they never made it even half way there. Now IBM proclaims a great victory because they have exceeded analyst expectations, but they don't even make computers any more. The Chinese (also failing) bought the last remnants of the IBM computer business.

Now I used to work with the very highest levels at IBM, for many years, and I often remarked that they were the least creative organization that I had ever encountered; internal politics turned them away from the market. My prediction at that time was laughable but eventually came true. I invite you to visit me for a trip up the Hudson River (please bring the car, I don't drive any more) to places like Poughkeepsie, Fishkill or Myers Corners. Geez, for a time, Fishkill was the largest manufacturing operation on the planet. Now these are all ghost towns.

Microsoft so reminds me of IBM it isn't funny. Prove this to yourself. What was the last Microsoft product that you learned/bought? I know the answer already. Google is infinitely more creative, yet they too are in trouble because they didn't figure out that if people aren't buying things, that advertisers will eventually cut back.

The (sad) truth is that the world no longer needs more computers. We have more capacity than we can handle with computing, bandwidth and such, so all these businesses are suspect. We do need new applications but that won't help moribund Microsoft.

Now if I could only figure out why I sit here and write all this junk?

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