Accidental Empires, Chapter 12 — On the Beach

tropicthunderGiven The Startup Channel this chapter on startups is very important. We also cover shareware and I want to point out that Buttonware founder Jim Knopf asked me to respect his pseudonym “Jim Button.” Who was I to argue with that? 

ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER TWELVE

ON THE BEACH

America’s advantage in the PC business doesn’t come from our education system, from our fluoridated water, or, Lord knows, from our tax structure. And it doesn’t come from some innate ability we have to run big companies with thousands of employees and billions in sales. The main thing America has had going for it is the high-tech start-up, and, […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 11 — Font Wars

john-warnock-steve-jobsClearly, given the recent battle between Flash and HTML5, things changed later in life between John Warnock and Steve Jobs. There’s a story I’d like to understand better. Meanwhile, back in the early 1990s….

ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER ELEVEN

FONT WARS

Of the 5 billion people in the world, there are only four who I’m pretty sure have stayed consistently on the good side of Steve Jobs. Three of them—Bill Atkinson, Rich Page, and Bud Tribble—all worked with Jobs at Apple Computer. Atkinson and Tribble are code gods, and Page is a hardware god. Page and Tribble left Apple with Jobs in 1985 to found NeXT Inc., their […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 10 — The Prophet

steve_jobs_appleACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER TEN

THE PROPHET

The most dangerous man in Silicon Valley sits alone on many weekday mornings, drinking coffee at II Fornaio, an Italian restaurant on Cowper Street in Palo Alto. He’s not the richest guy around or the smartest, but under a haircut that looks as if someone put a bowl on his head and trimmed around the edges, Steve Jobs holds an idea that keeps some grown men and women of the Valley awake at night. Unlike these insomniacs, Jobs isn’t in this business for the money, and that’s what makes him dangerous.

I wish, sometimes, that I could say this personal computer stuff is just […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 9 — Clones

compaqportableACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER NINE

CLONES

It was in the clay room, a closet filled with plastic bags of gray muck at the back of Mr. Ziska’s art room, where I made my move. For the first time ever, I found myself standing alone with Nancy Wilkins, the love of my life, the girl of my dreams. She was a vision in her green and black plaid skirt and white blouse, with little flecks of clay dusted across her glasses. Her blonde hair was in a ponytail, her teeth were in braces, and I was sure—well, pretty sure—that she was wearing a bra.

“Run away with me, Nancy,” I said, wrapping […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 8 — Software Envy

mitch&billACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER EIGHT

SOFTWARE ENVY

Mitch Kapor, the father of Lotus 1-2-3, showed up one day at my house but wouldn’t come inside. “You have a cat in there, don’t you?” he asked.

Not one cat but two, I confessed. I am a sinner.

Mitch is allergic to cats. I mean really allergic, with an industrial-strength asthmatic reaction. “It’s only happened a couple of times,” he explained, “but both times I thought I was going to die.”

People have said they are dying to see me, but Kapor really means it.

At this point we were still standing in the front yard, next to Kapor’s blue rental car. The guy had just […]