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 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 […]

The Startup Channel

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 6.40.46 AMWe interrupt this book for a quick update on what’s happening in my so-called career. Shortly before beginning this serialization of Accidental Empires I explained that I would be doing some new projects including a book and a startup about startups — The Startup Channel (thestartupchannel.net). The latter project will now launch in April so it’s time to explain.

The Startup Channel will be an online video channel about startups and startup people. You’ll find it probably on YouTube unless some other Internet video outfit makes me a better offer (hint, hint). We’ll be launching with 40 hours of pre-produced content, which is a lot for online video where the […]

Accidental Empires, Part 6 (Chapter 1c) — The Airport Kid

accidental-195x300ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

The Airport Kid was what they called a boy who ran errands and did odd jobs around a landing field in exchange for airplane rides and the distant prospect of learning to fly. From Lindbergh’s day on, every landing strip anywhere in America had such a kid— sometimes several—who’d caught on to the wonder of flight and wasn’t about to let go.

Technologies usually fade in popularity as they are replaced by new ways of doing things, so the lure of flight must have been awesome, because the airport kids stuck around America for generations. They finally disappeared in the 1970s, killed not by a transcendant technology but by the dismal economics of flight.

The numbers […]