Cringely comes back from the dead… again!

Twain“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” wrote Mark Twain when his obituary prematurely ran in the New York Journal. I can certainly relate to that because it turns out I’m not going anywhere.

Regular readers will remember my pledge last year to retire from this rag and get the hell out of Dodge before all my hair falls out or I starve to death, whichever came first. Well something happened while we were all enjoying those 8000-word blog posts that constituted my serialization of Accidental Empires: I signed a contract with a major publisher to write a pretty significant book that I’m not yet allowed to tell you anything about.

While you might think […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 17 — Do the Wave

surf_board-legAnd so our two month retrospective comes to an end with this 17th and final chapter, circa 1996. I hope you have enjoyed it. Tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about the eBook version of this work as well as what I’ve been up to for the last eight weeks. It’s more than I ever expected… and less.




We’re floating now on surfboards 300 yards north of the big public pier in Santa Cruz, California. As our feet slowly become numb in the cold Pacific water, it’s good to ponder the fact that this section of coastline, only fifteen miles […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 15 — Future Computing

minority-reportThere is so much wrong and yet a lot that’s right in this chapter, which was the last one in the original hardcover edition. I don’t know whether to be embarrassed by it or proud. How does computing today compare with my predictions from 1992? 




Remember Pogo? Pogo was Doonesbury in a swamp, the first political cartoon good enough to make it off the editorial page and into the high-rent district next to the horoscope. Pogo was a ‘possum who looked as if he was dressed for a Harvard class reunion and who acted as the moral conscience for the first […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 14 — Counter-Reformation




In Prudhoe Bay, in the oilfields of Alaska’s North Slope, the sun goes down sometime in late November and doesn’t appear again until January, and even then the days are so short that you can celebrate sunrise, high noon, and sunset all with the same cup of coffee. The whole day looks like that sliver of white at the base of your thumbnail.

It’s cold in Prudhoe Bay in the wintertime, colder than I can say or you would believe—so cold that the folks who work for the oil companies start their cars around October and leave them running twenty-four hours a day clear through […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 13 — Economics of Scale




We’re at the ballpark, now, and while you and I are taking a second bite from our chilidogs, this is what’s happening in the outfield, according to Rick Miller, a former Gold Glove center fielder for the Bosox and the Angels. When the pitcher’s winding up, and we figure the center fielder’s just stooped over out there, waiting for the photon torpedoes to load and thinking about T-bills or jock itch endorsements, he’s really watching the pitcher and getting ready to catch the ball that has yet to be thrown. Exceptional center fielders use three main factors in judging where the ball […]