In 19th century Europe (and probably in America, too) women were less likely to die in childbirth if their babies were born at home or even on the street rather than in hospitals. The reason was simple: street and home births almost always involved the doctor or midwife washing their hands, thus minimizing the risk of infection. Doctors of the time rarely bothered to wash between hospital patients. Yum. Ignaz Semmelweiss first noticed this in Austria before 1850. Then Louis Pasteur came up with his germ theory of disease in 1864. Finally Joseph Lister in England (he of Listerine fame) pioneered the use of carbolic acid (phenol) antiseptics and the fight against germs took off […]
There 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 […]
WHY THEY DON’T CALL IT
Reminders of just how long I’ve been around this youth-driven business keep hitting me in the face. Not long ago I was poking around a store called the Weird Stuff Warehouse, a sort of Silicon Valley thrift shop where you can buy used computers and other neat junk. It’s right across the street from Fry’s Electronics, the legendary computer store that fulfills every need of its techie customers by offering rows of junk food, soft drinks, girlie magazines, and Maalox, in addition to an enormous selection of new computers and software. You can’t miss Fry’s; the building is painted to look like a block-long computer chip. The front […]
Some readers of my last column in this series seem to think it was just about the movie business but it wasn’t. It was about the recorded entertainment industry, which includes movies, broadcast and cable television, video games, and derivative works. It’s just that the movie business — like the mainframe computer business — learned these lessons first and so offers fine examples.
Whether from Silicon Valley or Seattle, technology companies see video entertainment as a rich market to be absorbed. How can Hollywood resist? The tech companies have all the money. Between them Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel and Microsoft have $300 billion in cash and no debt — enough capital to buy anything. Apple all by itself could buy the entire entertainment industry, though […]
A friend of mine who is a securities lawyer in New York worked on the 1985 sale of 20th Century Fox by Marvin Davis to Rupert Murdoch. He led a group of New York attorneys to Los Angeles where they spent weeks going over contracts for many Fox films. What they found was that with few exceptions there were no contracts. There were signed letters of intent (agreements to agree) for pictures budgeted at $20-$50 million but almost no actual contracts. Effectively business was being done, movies were being made, and huge sums of money were being transferred on a handshake. That’s how Hollywood tends to do business and it doesn’t go down very well […]