The computing industry is fuelled by prediction and gossip. Before the patent became the carefully guarded weapon it is today, chip engineers from competing companies would often share an astounding amount of information on an informal basis -- not just with each other, but with the wider consumer audience as well.
As an accelerated timeline of novel products, new features and standards gained momentum, the sound bite and quotable quote became the means to become noticed by a user base clamouring for any tidbit in the thousands of tech-centric forums and the endless stream of industry related magazines.
Three years before co-founding Intel and whilst working as Fairchild Semiconductors head of R&D, Gordon E. Moore authored an article “Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits” which appeared in the April 19, 1965 edition of Electronics Magazine. In that paper Moore predicted that the transistor count for a minimum component cost would double every year for at least a decade based upon Fairchild’s previous five years of IC design.
So accurate a forecast -- and self-fulfilling prophecy -- Moore and Intel became prime movers in the industry and his prediction is enshrined as “Moore’s law”. Within an industry known as much for its predictive pronouncements and verbal sparring as its actual innovation, low bandwidth morality, and elastic attitude towards intellectual property rights, many have felt compelled to follow Gordon Moore in bringing their judgements and observations into the public eye… with varying degrees of success.
“There definitely is a new kid on the block, but there is nothing that IBM has presented that would blow the industry away” – Tandy’s Radio Shack division financial VP when asked about the IBM PC[Business Week, August 24, 1981]
“I don't think it's that significant” – John Roach, president of Tandy, in August 1981 when asked about the impact that IBM’s imminent move into personal computing with the IBM PC [The Making of Microsoft, by Daniel Ichbiah and Susan Knepper, 1991]
“[those supporting PowerPC] are smoking dope. There's no way it's going to work” – Robert Stearns, VP of corporate development for Compaq Computer. [Wired, May 1994]
“What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders” – Michael Dell, Chairman/CEO of Dell Computers said when asked what he would do if he was CEO of Apple [Various news outlets, October 1997]
“The era of the PC is over” – Louis Gerstner, Chairman/CEO of IBM [Smart Computing, July 1999]
“In five years we're going to sit around and laugh that we even had operating system wars; there's just going to be Linux. We're going to take over” – Trae McCombs, site manager Linux.com [Maximum Linux, October 1999]
The Future of Computing?
“In the future, the primary means of communication with computers will be through speech, not through graphics” – Nicholas Negroponte, director of MIT's Media Lab. [BYTE, November 1989]
“Above all, what we'll never see fly is the scanner / printer / fax / copier combo” – John C. Dvorak [PC Magazine, November 27, 1990]
“Within three years, televisions will have either a Windows or Mac interface” – Nolan Bushnell, Chairman of Octus [BYTE, Special Issue 1992]
“I can see the day when Apple won't be in the personal computer business" and "The personal computer business as we have known it is not very attractive for the Nineties” – John Sculley, CEO and Chairman of Apple Computer [Fortune Magazine, July 26, 1993]
“We don't see Windows as a long-term graphical interface for the masses” – Lotus Development official at the demonstration of a new DOS version of Lotus 1-2-3 [BYTE, June 1989]
“I think Windows 3.0 will get a lot of attention; people will check it out, and before long they'll all drift back to raw DOS. Once in a while they'll boot Windows for some specific purpose, but many will put it in the closet with the Commodore 64” – John C. Dvorak [PC Computing, August 1990]
“[DOS will be] with us forever. We've learned how passionate people are about DOS” – Brad Silverberg, Microsoft VP. [InfoWorld, July 29, 1991]
“No one wants to work with Microsoft any more. We sure won't. They don't have any friends left” - Philippe Kahn, Chairman of Borland International [Hard Drive - Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire, by James Wallace and Jim Erickson, 1992]
“I came illiterate, now I'm leaving virtually retarded” – Jay Leno during a rehearsal for the Microsoft Windows 95 launch in August 1995. [Overdrive - Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace, by James Wallace, 1997]
“When the anthropologists dust off the 1980s and 1990s and look at the productivity dip, they're going to blame [Microsoft] Office”- Scott McNealy, Chairman /CEO of Sun Microsystems [BYTE, January 1997]
Shooting From The Lip
“It's like a surfer girl marrying a banker” – Richard Shaffer, publisher of Computer Letter regarding the Apple-IBM (and Motorola) alliance formed on October 2, 1991 [Hard Drive - Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire, by James Wallace and Jim Erickson, 1992]
“The market is confusing, although it provides us with some sort of job security” – Richard Bader, Intel General Manager [Personal Computing, October 1988]
“I don't know if anyone has tried to run Windows on a 286 machine, but frankly I'd rather have knitting needles in my eyes” – Aaron Goldberg, International Data Corp. [UnixWorld, June 1991]
“The only strategic relationship that works is a purchase order” – Scott McNealy, CEO Sun Microsystems on the same AIM alliance [MacUser, January 1984]
“[Intel’s Pentium name] better suited as "a name for toothpaste” – W. Jerry Sanders III, AMD Chairman
“One thing's for sure, *nobody* is going to call it the Pentium” – John C. Dvorak [both PC Magazine, January 12, 1993]
“It sounds more like a pair of sneakers. Or perhaps a new ointment” – John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine regarding the name Athlon for AMD’s new processor.[PC Magazine, October 19, 1999]