Autodesk’s John Walker explained HP and IBM in 1991

autodeskcoverOne reader of this column in particular has been urging me to abandon for a moment my obsession with IBM and look, instead, at his employer — Hewlett Packard. HP, he tells me, suffers from all the same problems as IBM while lacking IBM’s depth and resources. And he’s correct: HP is a shadow of its former self and probably doomed if it continues to follow its current course. I’ve explained some of this before in an earlier column, and another, and another you might want to re-read. More of HP’s problems are covered in a very fine presentation you can read here. Were […]

The Indiana Pi Bill, Ellen Pao, and IBM

IBMjapancoverThe Indiana Legislature is in the news for passing a state law considered by many to be anti-gay. It reminded me of the famous Pi Bill — Bill #246 of the 1897 Indiana General Assembly. There’s a good account of the bill on Wikipedia, but the short story is a doctor and amateur mathematician wanted the state to codify his particular method of squaring the circle, a side effect of which would be officially declaring the value of π to be 3.2.

The bill was written by Representative Taylor I. Record, sent to the Education Committee where it passed, went back to the Indiana House of Representatives where it […]

Remembering Radio Shack

trs80With Radio Shack having declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with hundreds of stores closing and others possibly becoming Sprint locations, let’s take a moment to look back at the important contributions the company made in the early days of personal computing.

Charles Tandy started the Tandy Leather Company which opened hundreds of little shops in the 1950s selling kits for consumers to make their own tooled leather belts, for example. I made one in 1959, burning my name into the belt with a soldering iron. As leather craft faded as a hobby and electronics boomed many of those Tandy Leather stores became Radio Shacks (but not all — a few leather stores survive […]

IBM back in the USSR?

backintheUSSRMy book, The Decline and Fall of IBM, is now available in paperback, on the iPad and Nook, as well as on the Kindle. A dozen other platforms plus an audio book will be available shortly, but these are the big ones.

Over the weekend I received a very insightful message about the book from reader Steve Jenkins in Australia, where IBM is showing the same behavior problems as everywhere else. Steve has an insight into Big Blue that I wish I had thought to include in the book because I believe he is absolutely correct.

“Finished your e-book, but skimmed the blog comments,” wrote […]

Scarface: He’s got Boris Yeltsin eyes

scarfaceLast Wednesday night I posted my most recent column, turned out the lights in my office, walked down eight stone steps, tripped and smashed my face into the side of our house with a thunk that brought everybody running. Ten stitches and two days later I took the picture you see here in which I look way better. So if anybody wonders why I was a no-show tonight at the Computer History Museum’s reunion for the Homebrew Computer Club, this is my excuse. I can’t see well yet and I sure as heck can’t drive. Woz didn’t make it either I’m told.

I wish I had been at the museum, of course. Those who were […]