A bit OT - Urban Myths?

Frank Shute frank at esperance-linux.co.uk
Sun Jul 6 23:02:18 BST 2003

On Sun, Jul 06, 2003 at 11:21:31AM +0100, cb wrote:
> Hello
> I'm due to present a paper later this month at an international teachers
> conference with the title "Open Source Software - A Bridge Across the
> Digital Divide?" which will include some FreeBSD advocacy.
> In considering some of MS Windows shortcomings, there are a couple of
> supposed pronouncements by Bill Gates from many years ago I would like to
> reference, the gist of each being as follows:
> 1. That there is no reason why any personal computer would ever need more
> tha a megabyte of RAM; [maybe around 1985]

There are arguments about whether that is a myth or not & I've heard
it as "640K is enough for anybody"

> 2. That the internet was a passing fad or a flash in the pan which would
> never amount to anything. [maybe around 1993]

He wrote a book called "The Road Ahead" which was published c. 1996/97;
whilst I haven't read it, I understand that in it's original form it
dealt with the Internet in a couple of paragraphs and more or less
dismissed the Internet as something that wouldn't interest consumers
and would be just for geeks.

Windows 3.11 shipped without a tcp/ip stack and originally I don't
think W95 shipped with a browser. His company was very much caught on
the hop but they play quite a good game of catch-up.

I think that without the impact of open source software, MS would
still be shipping DOS-based consumer OSes but they've been forced to
raise their game.

> Can anybody confirm that he ever said or wrote anything similar to either of
> the above, if possible with a reference --  or have I simply collected up a
> couple of urban myths?

Other myths that surround Bill Gates (and which truly are myths): He's
a computer `prophet', his company is innovative, he's a brilliant
coder/genius, Microsoft software is good quality. I think these are
prevalent amongst the man in the street. Yet there is very little
evidence supporting any of them but plenty not supporting them.

You might want to mention some of the innovations that have come from
the free/public domain/academic world: the Internet, http, email etc.
ie. Tools that people use everyday. 

Isn't BSD's tcp/ip stack still considered to be the reference
implementation? Perhaps that's mentioned in an RFC.

Good luck with the presentation!



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