Q & A WITH BOB CRINGELY
Robert X. Cringely's name is on every enemy's list in Silicon Valley, where for eight years he was the gossip columnist for InfoWorld, a trade paper read each week by more than 600,000 computer professionals. A veteran of 19 years in the personal computer industry, Cringely is now on television, too, in the PBS miniseries Triumph of the Nerds, based on his best-selling book Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition and Still Can't Get a Date. TV star/sex symbol Cringely is a former war correspondent and Stanford University professor. The guy just can't keep a job.
After taking on the head honchos in Silicon Valley, see how Bob Cringely handles no holds barred questions from PBS viewers in his own inimitable style! In the following pages, Cringely answers the questions that PBS viewers submitted to this site when the program was originally broadcast in June 1996. Mr. Cringely's responses appear in bold text.
Do you plan to do a sequel? Perhaps looking into the history of the net?
Yes! In a few months be on the lookout for "Triumph of the Nerds 2.01: Digital Dreams" on a PBS station near you.
Any thoughts on what the future of the MAC might be?
The Mac will survive if only because there are 15 million of them in use. Also, Apple is starting to make some of the right moves about regaining its technical edge. And Motorola and IBM, which have the right to sublicense the Mac ROMS and OS, are going to make sure there are next year plenty of cheap Mac clones.
Not really a question... and it's after the 21st anyway.
But you missed an opportunity at the very end of the program. As you drove into the sunset in your ragtop, you should have had an unintroduced lady by your side, hair streaming in the breeze... then cut! The nerds that read your column would recognize this as Pammy and go nuts.
(And speaking of pathological nutcases... some of us noticed you weren't driving a Studebaker. Sigh -- I *really* need to get a life.)
Good effort, BTW. Even if you couldn't interview Phil Estridge :-(
Do you mean Don Estridge, former head of the IBM PC, operation who was killed in 1985 in a Delta airlines crash in Dallas?
Pammy may deign to appear in the next show. We'll see. And the Studebaker will be back as soon as its rebuilt. Remember I wrecked it in the spring of 1995?
Hi Dr.Bob Cringely,I love your show on TV. Wonderful !! superb !!Oscar performance!! I am going to read your book now!Did you work for Apple??employee#12??What happen to Steve Wozniak??Why did he leave Apple?? U never memtioned in the program.I grew up with all these PC things around me. I never forget my virgin contact with the apple ii, commoredo Vic 20.And my first relationship with the apple //c.Your program was so informative that now I understood everything about the PC History.Why didn't Xerox sue Apple & Microsoft for copying their inventions. The GUI?I am a Apple Mac man, What do you think Apple's position in the PC world? stay or like Atari.Do U know Larry Allision's email address.I love his Japanese's toys in his house.I am serious, I want to do some trading with him.Bob, U are the best, most sexyest guy on TVThe best part in the TV program is when you are laying on top of MicroSoft's stone sign.and U said"where did Microsoft get the ideas for windows"Of course not from Mic
Thanks for the praise, Dr. Dave!
Xerox DID sue Apple. They lost, just as Apple lost when it sued Microsoft. The answer to your Mac question is above. I believe Larry's address is "firstname.lastname@example.org," but you'd better have plenty of money if you are going to trade toys with him.
The current trend of software shared on the internet reminds me of punch cards, monitors and mainframes. Do you think this is really a step forward?
You came down very hard on Xerox and their inablity to recognize the products
coming out of their research labs.
Do you think with their corporate sales mentality they could have marketed these
products correctly if they had in fact recognized their superior potential?
I don't understand your first question, Fred. How could the Internet -- an interactive, visual medium, be remotely like punched cards and batch systems? I don't get it.
Xerox took from PARC the thing they valued -- a $16 billion laser printer business. We should always remember that. But it still makes no sense to me why they didn't at least get some royalty income from the other stuff.
Although the developing Internet standards battle was foreshadowed, (with Oracle) it wasn't really dealt with.
There was no mention of Microsoft vs Netscape.
I take it this due simply to production
schedules for the show, and if so what comments do
you have on this furious battle?
It had to do with having only three hours to tell a very big story, Hans. The Internet will be explained in vast detail in the next series.
I'm sorry to hear that M.S. no longer writes the Cringely column in Infoworld. We have a disagreement between the coder boys here - is Pammy a real person that you date???
Curious in the Midwest...
Pammy is VERY real. She's the beautiful young woman with whom I live. Don't believe everything you read -- especially in InfoWorld!
Dear Mr. Cringely, do you think that Steve Jobs is suffering from a case of sour grapes? During the interview on your show with him, he stated that good artists borrow and great ones steal, or something to that effect. Yet when the topic of Bill gates comes up, he is very critical and almost jealous of his success. Is Steve Jobs that jealous of Mr. Gates? Also, don't let Tom Snyder push you around like that. When you were on his show, you were both insightful and funny, yet he let that bumpkin meander on about his radio station problems for almost half of YOUR time! It was pretty rude in my opinion.
A faithful fan,
east lansing, mi
Yes, Steve is tasting some sour grapes. He's absolutely convinced that Bill Gates lucked into a fortune he doesn't deserve. That's pretty much correct, of course, but where Steve thinks he could have done a better job then Bill, he's dead wrong. What Bill brings to Microsoft is a consistency of purpose and an ability to lead a large organization that Steve Jobs could never understand, much less emulate.
After viewing your program I can truley say that it was "insanely great"! As a dedicated Mac user who must occasionally serve time on a DOS machine slogging Windows95, I especially enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Steve Jobs. However, all the computer stuff aside, I really only have two questions: 1. Is that incredibly cool '66 T-bird convertible yours? 2. What middle name could possibly begin with the letter "X"? Thank you for producing such an outstanding program...I'll certainly read the book at my earliest convenience!
Yes, the '66 T-Bird is mine. It's a rare Q-code model with the 428 cubic inch V-8. 1966 was the only year they offered a 428 in the convertible and fewer than 600 were made. Mine has every option except the 8-track.
X stands for Xavier, my mother's maiden name.
How about discussing the real issue? That is how Microsoft only cares about it's own expansion. Where are technical pride & ethics?
Wow, what a long question! I'll answer it in sections, okay? First, about ethics and technical pride: since when were those factors in business? Microsoft isn't unethical, though it may sometimes look that way. They are just willing to mine ungracefully. And they have technical pride, but being stuck as a copier of technologies, they don't have much choice.
About Apple being a fading force. This week's interactive week tabloid says that is in the top 20 revenue making US firms. That sounds like they know what to do.
You know who seems to know the least about Macintosh computers? PC Experts. I'd always figured that these PC experts were pretty plugged-in to the computer market in general, but it seems like everything they know about a Mac they picked up on the street six or seven years ago.
They've updated their modems, CPUs, RAM, and even their operating system, but they've neglected to update their knowledge about the one computer to which they owe their plug-and-play, mouse-driven, CD-ROM-using, window-clicking world-the Macintosh. So in an attempt to bring these PC experts into the 90s, I've compiled a list of the most common Apple and Macintosh misconceptions, complete with a reality check for each. Fax it to your PC acquaintances; it really spoils their day when they read good news about Apple.
1. THERE'S NO SOFTWARE FOR MACS
The other side of this misconception comes from the fact that retail stores like Egghead Software, Babbage's, Software Etc., etc. carry hardly any Mac software. That's because the vast majority of all Mac software is sold by mail order. It's always been that way, it'll probably always be that way. Incidentally, there are over 500 software applications that are available only for the Mac and not available on the PC at all. Is that reason to celebrate? No. The reality is: you're probably not going to use any of those 500 either.
2. MACS AREN'T PC COMPATIBLE
3. APPLE IS JUST A NICHE PLAYER IN THE COMPUTER MARKET
4. THE PERSON THAT DESIGNS APPLE ADVERTISING IS A SERIOUS SUBSTANCE ABUSER
5. MACS ARE MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE
6. MAC USERS ARE ARROGANT
7. THE MAC IS ONLY FOR GRAPHICS
8. APPLES'S GOING OUT OF BUSINESS
Here's an Apple stat most PC users would find surprising. In the Fortune 500 listing of America's largest businesses, Apple took the 114 spot (ahead of household names like McDonald's and Federal Express). So where does the Fortune 500 list find Microsoft, the computer software mega giant? About 105 spots behind Apple down at number 219. Is that surprising? It shouldn't be, since Microsoft is only a $5-billion company, and Apple is an $11-billion company. The reality is: It could be much worse for Apple-they could be Packard Bell.
9. SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS ARE FLEEING THE MAC MARKET
You now also see more and more PC software developers putting both a Mac version and a PC version of their software on the same CD-ROM. They're catching on to the fact that there are 56,000,000 sales possibilities. The reality is: There's never been more Mac software than there is right now.
Well that's it. These common misconceptions about Apple and the Mac have
been developed over nearly a 12 year
period, so don't expect PC users to change their long-held beliefs
overnight, regardless of what the facts and
figures show. The reality is: nobody needs Apple to succeed more than the
PC user. And luckily for them, it will.
Okay, I read it, Now here are some other things to think about. 1. Revenue is nothing without profits and Apple is gushing red ink. 2. an installed base is nothing if it is shrinking (Apple's is). 3. Applications that are more than 18 months old are meaningless and more than half of the Mac apps you mention haven't been reved in that long. This is because the developers have switched their attention to where the market is -- to Windows 95. I like Macs, too, and I think they will survive (look above), but it isn't going to be easy.
Click here to read on . . .
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