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Terrific program- pulls it all together!!! Q. One tale I've heard is that the 800 number listed after Apple's 1984 Super Bowl commercial was incorrect, it actually connected people to IBM! Any truth to this???

There have been any number of 800 number snafus over the years, but that's not one I've heard before.

Q. Please debate the following premise: One thing I recall before 1984 was a general distrust of the so-called "Big Business" that was felt by a large number of people. Businessmen in suits were often cast as villians. Companies worked hard at overcoming these perceptions with much outreach to do good deeds and be "good corp- erate citizens". I think that many companies such as Apple, Intergalactic Digital Research, etc., thought of themselves as completely outside the stereotype of "Big Business", and wanted to triumph over it! I'll bet that Intergalactic Digital Research really thought they were beating IBM at their own game when they refused to sign the non-disclosure agreement! It wasn't the "God Himself" that had come to visit, it was "Big Brother"- and they hadn't dropped the ball, they'd thrown a sledgehammer thru the telescreen! CPM had to be it- IBM couldn't possible win without it! Bill Gates' ability to work with IBM and stay outside this hippie mind set shows how he was ahead of his time- most of the country didn't start thinking "greed is good" until later on the Reagan Administration! Nowadays, we all look back at the good old days of "Big Business", which no longer has to try to win respect, and no longer needs to do nearly as much philanthropy (or even hire full time employees). My how the times have changed!
Mark Fearon
Newton, MA

Debate with whom? I don't think that anyone at Digital Research thought that IBM would get its operating system from Microsoft. On the other hand, I hardly think they saw not signing the NDA as an act of war against big business. Dorothy Kildall (unlike Gary) aspired to big business. She wanted the business, but her lawyer said "no."

Name the man whose work predates even that of Xerox on windows and mouse as well as hypertext.

Hint: Major appearance at 1968 Fall Joint Conf. in SF.
Bellevue, WA

Well, Mr. Anonymous, Ted Nelson is generally credited with inventing hypertext in the early 1960s and the mouse and graphical user interface were the inventions of Doug Engelbart around 1966. We interviewed both fellows for the TV show, but they ended on the cutting room floor just as lots of material must in a three hour show drawn from 120 hours of interviews. We may well put them in the next show.

Did I pass the test?

Bob - I can't believe that XEROX just GAVE AWAY the graphic user interface. Is there more to the story than what you've told us? - SR
Steve Ricards
Redding, CA

Well there are lots more details, but the only one of great significance that I believe we left out was that a Xerox licensing executive at one point decided to let Apple out of a provision that would have had them pay royalties on the GUI. No bribes, nothing: he just said they didn't have to pay!

What is the original Macintosh worth now? Do you think Macs are better than PCs? Does Bill Gates still program personally?
Waltham, MA

There are lots of original Macs around, so I'd guess they are worth $100 or less. I think Macs are still technically superior to PCs, but I use both. Bill Gates wrote his last commercial code in 1983 for the Tandy 102 notebook.

I'm a fan of convertibles. What's that one you were driving at the end of episode 3? Is it yours and does it have a history in Silicon Valley too?
Richard Farthing
Atlanat, GA

It's a '66 Thunderbird and its last owner before me lived in Portland, Oregon.

Do you expect the java phenomena to continue? Who do you expect will be the major winners due to Java? Will Sun Microsystems reap more benefits from Java than others? If so, how?

How big a threat do you think the NC is to the PC?
Atlanta, GA

Java IS a phenomenon! It's a very nice language, but its success comes from being on so many platforms. As Bill Gates says, the way to make money in this business is by establishing de facto standards, and Java is that. Sun will make some money, but not as much as you'd guess. They still think of themselves as a hardware company and hope to make most of their bucks from Java chips and computers. At least $1 billion in Sun sales can be now said to be Internet related, so I'd say Java is already a moneymaker for Sun.

The NC is not a threat to the PC, especially not at A $500 price. At a $200 price it has a shot, especially in developing countries or at my Mom's house, which is somewhat like a developing country.

Hello Bob;
I am wondering what your opinion is of the future of casinos on the internet, and if you would be interested in corraberating on such a venture?

Corraberating? No thanks. I gave a speech on just this topic to the Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. Since the Internet respects no boundaries and payment systems can be built completely offshore, I expect that gambling will become a big business. Fortunately, many people like to gamble in public and the lure of the cybercasino just isn't the same as Vegas.

I was shocked to learn that Larry Ellison has built the (supposedly) 2nd largest software company in the world -- Oracle. Who is this guy? And where did he come from so silently? And what are his aspirations?
Marilyn Montgomery
Phoenix, AZ

I don't think Oracle is #2. That's Computer Associates. And if you consider all the software activities of IBM, it's probably #1. But Oracle is plenty darned big and almost 20 years old. You never heard of them because they came from the UNIX world. Larry's ambition? World domination, of course.

Terrific show on PBS, I'm anxious to get your book. Please clarify the difference between the terms "clone" and "compatible" in reference to types of computers and computer companies..

Do you have a website? What is the address?
Thank you.
David Goldstone

No website, sorry.

Clone and compatible generally mean the same thing, except that a clone is by definition 100 percent compatible and some compatibles are only software compatible or partially compatible.

Where do you see the future of computing going? Will it continue to be dominated by companies that are essensially monopolies, or will these monopolies fall apart? Here in Bakersfield we are seeing several companies lose money because they bet that Microsoft's products would be adopted universally. Now we are seeing free Unix implementations taking over what once was dominated by Microsoft and Novell. Comments?

Free Unix apps (GNU, Linux, Free BSD, etc.) are a factor only in small or vertical markets. Those companies in Bakersfield must have written some pretty darned obscure applications.

What was the name of the Navy Officer cited as the inventor of computer code. I'd like to read a bio. of her and the story of the invention. In 1977, I witnessed a friend writing x's and o's for the Bechtel Corp. where he was an engineer. Has the code been developed since that date?
John Pelafigue
Riverside, California

Captain (later Admiral) Grace Hopper began work around 1951 on FLOW-MATIC, the predecessor to the COBOL language.

Excellent program. However, I would like to know what some of your subjects' reactions are to the program or the book.

Anger? Gratitude? Revenge??

One more thing: I consider your program an excellent complement to the earlier computer documentary "The Machine That Changed the World."
Jerry Hsiao
Lake Worth, FL

Thanks. Most people liked the book and the show. Comments on the show have been universally favorable from those who were in it, including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Neither Bill nor Steve liked the way they were portrayed in the book, but they both still talk to me. Mitch Kapor HATED the way he was portrayed in the book and he doesn't talk to me. Mitch, however, is well-known for his whining.

I found "The Machine that Changed the World" to be incredibly boring. They interviewed both Gates and Jobs and used hardly anything from either.

What is the major difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web?
Dave Patrick de Felice
Madison, WI

The World Wide Web is a type of service available over the Internet. Think of the Internet as the phone system and the World Wide Web as Dial-a-Joke. You can't have the second without the first.

Does the Internet as a relatively low cost, unregulated, minimally controlled information medium for the masses have a chance of surviving, or is the new paradigm which includes low cost "dumb terminal" access to information which is dolled out a penny a byte by "access controllers" (cable TV stations, broadcasters and phone companies) a more likely scenario for the Internet's future?
Nick Lagos
New York, New York

Whether the internet can survive with its current cost structure is an interesting question. It all depends on the number of users. Make it big enough and it becomes like commercial TV, which is also free (at least in a sense). Time will tell.

I would like additional info on a person/company which you interviewed towards the end of the show. I believe his last name was 'Graham' and he was with 'Software Architects' and he demonstrated a text summary of 'Hamlet'. Could you please give me a web site or email address of this organization so I may contact them.
Thank you

That's Graham Spencer. The company was Architext Software, but has now changed its name to Excite Corp. Try http://www.excite.com.

The battle for market share - now apparently over, with Microsoft in the IBM position of 80%+ dominance - has been an All-American battle, even thought he market is the world.

Are there any prospects for that "foreign competition" battling back? On the amateur level, I'm growing steadily more impressed by the shareware coming out of Germany, and I think everyone was set back by the "Linux Revolution" that boiled up out of Scandinavia. Clearly, there are serious hackers over there, but they don't seem to be organized into companies.

Why not? Could they be?
Roy Brander
Calgary, Canada

Shareware companies grow to about $4 million in sales and then collapse of their own weight. Free or shareware software generally doesn't have good enough product support (there's no money to pay for it) to gain real market share. I think Linux WILL have a major impact, but it will be through its use in commercial products from companies that charge for it.

Why are companies racing to bring software for download to the internet when they can't control the illegal copying of software distributed by conventional means. Aren't they just making their job harder? And why would you download a $150.00 software package with no documentation and with no CD-ROM to re-install when your hard disk crashes? Has anyone addressed these basic concerns?
Frederic B. van West
Peoria, AZ

Software distributed over the Internet requires no printing, copying or shipping. It is nearly free for the supplier once the code is finished. People can pirate applications sold on disk just as easily as they can Internet applications. But with the cost structure so much better for net-distributed apps, its worth suffering a little piracy because the profit margins are so high from those who do pay.

From this program, I heard Steve "Woz" Wozniak is teaching kids about the computer. Does he have an address (e-mail, web site, etc.) that I can surf to talk with him about his program? I also developed a program to teach kids about computers.
Marcus Henry
Memphis, TN

Woz asked me not to give out his e-mail address. Sorry. But I'll send your address and message to him and he can reply if he likes.

On the "big show" the three sides of the IBM, Microsoft, Digital Research story were told. IBM met with both Microsoft and DRI on the same day. I thought they saw DRI first, and on different dates. Do you know the date of the meetings? Thanks for a great show!!
Bob Ackerman
Foster City, CA

I don't recall the exact dates, but they weren't the same day because Jack Sams didn't get to Microsoft until 2PM and he couldn't have made it to Pacific Grove that same day.

Do you think a new type of PC will arise in the market to take over the PC compatable format? I mean after all it's old technology that is limited by its backward compatability. Amiga for example had true multitasking way back when that would still blow away win95 today. P.S. Your show was absolutly incredible!! (How come you didn't become a millionare?)

I'm a lousy businessman, that's why.

Yes, there will be newer, better PCs. We'll see a level of integration that literally puts a PC on a chip. We'll see better operating systems and applications. And we'll see new, successful companies. But for at least another 10 years, Microsoft will be right there near the top.

I'd like to ask Bob why he did not, in the interest of providing historical perspective, mention in his "Nerds" documentary the role of Stanford University as a source of the engineering talent that shifted the economy of Silicon Valley from orchards to more fruitful endeavors.

Also, why not a nod to Hewlett-Packard, the original "garage start-up" and, paradoxically, the company which spurned the idea of a personal computer from an obscure employee named Steve Wozniak?

I'm also curious as to why the program made no mention of the transformation of the PC into a multimedia platform and gave such short shrift to the Internet.

Will any of these subjects find their way into the next installment?

With best regards,
Jim Goulder
Vice President
Handykey Corporation
Mount Sinai, NY

Jim, you sound like you have a chip on your shoulder. This was a series on the history of the PC, not the history of Silicon Valley. It was also limited to three hours and covered less than 25 percent of the material in my book. We will do more shows in the future and some of the areas you ask about will be covered in those shows.

Do you think that PCs as we know them today will be completely eliminated by the internet (as alluded to by the C.E.O of Oracle), or will they still retain some independence from "Big Brother"?
Robert Azzollini
Long Beach, New York

120 million PCs won't just disappear. Standalone desktop machines will be with us for years to come.

Bob; Computer Chronicles, another PBS show, did a feature about Gary (Digital Research). The story covered the intro of the IBM PC and how they got DOS from Microsoft. The version you did was a bit different then the one they showed. Computer Chronicles had IBM going to DR first, having problems, going to MS, getting an OS BUT then finding out that there might be problems with a copywrite/owner of the 'real' code of the program from MS. Returned to DR and signed up their OS also with Gary's blessing to 'offer both' as the best will win. IBM then offered both BUT had quite a larger price tag on DR's product. MS won. Was the version in your recent show correct OR was the version from CC correct?

Enjoyed all of the show BUT one comment about Apple being on the fasing edge.
Tim Adams
Nashua, NH

Obviously, I believe the version I presented was correct. And since we told the story in the words of the people who were there (Eubanks from DRI, Sams from IBM, Ballmer and Gates and Allen from Microsoft) it's pretty definitive.

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