Accidental Empires, Chapter 14 — Counter-Reformation

os2warpACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

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

redmond_aerialACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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 […]

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 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 […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 7 — All IBM Stories are True

IBM-PC-83ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER SEVEN

ALL IBM STORIES ARE TRUE

I live in California in a house that I can’t really afford in a neighborhood filled with blue-haired widows and with two-earner couples who have already made the jump from BMW to Acura and in their hearts are flirting with voting Republican.

Remember when life came mainly in black and white, and Wally and the Beav walked down a street as the credits rolled across them? That was my house they walked by on that tree-lined street, my 50-by-105 foot lot, my gnawing termites, my 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk dripping oil in the driveway, and my orange tree dropping oranges in the […]