A bit OT - Urban Myths?

Paul Richards paul at freebsd-services.com
Tue Jul 15 16:30:49 BST 2003

On Mon, Jul 07, 2003 at 01:24:17PM +0100, Paul Robinson wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 06, 2003 at 11:21:31AM +0100, cb wrote:
> > 1. That there is no reason why any personal computer would ever need more
> > tha a megabyte of RAM; [maybe around 1985]
> As others have pointed out, he definitely didn't say that. He did however, I 
> think, refer to 1Mb as a lot of memory. In the context of the early 1980's, 
> there is nothing wrong with that - most home/office machines at the time had 
> less than a quarter of that capacity.
> > 2. That the internet was a passing fad or a flash in the pan which would
> > never amount to anything. [maybe around 1993]
> Somebody pointed out the "Road Ahead" reference. That's a good place for a 
> reference, but there is more.
> Basically, in a speech in 94/95-ish time he outlined his roadmap for the
> original MSN. What you have now when going to MSN, is not what he was going
> to try and deliver. This was at a time when connectivity for most people
> meant AOL and Compuserve and BBSes. None of these were connected in any way 
> to the Internet.
> He wanted to compete with the Internet as if it were Compuserve. In fact, in
> parts of the speech he compared them directly, but Compuserve was "better"  
> than the Internet for most people as the content came from quality
> publishers and therefore of more value. MSN was going to compete. You would

Well, to be fair to what he was thinking at the time, it must have
been Compuserve that he really was looking to compete with since
the Internet barely existed.  I don't have figures to hand but the
number of internet sites was probably still in the thousands at
the time that he was writing that book.

I may be a few years out with my recollections from but at that
time the JANET was still on X25 and the LANs were Novell IPX.  The
TCP/IP protocol was still predominantly a "Unix thing" and the
"Internet" was still mostly made up of University computing depts
who ran Unix. The web was something just starting to break out of
these depts, the Internet as we know it today was just being born.

I don't think anyone at the time could have predicted what was
about to happen, and Bill Gates actually had a pretty accurate
vision of what this new world would be like (which he goes into
in some depth in the book) but I think he expected that Microsoft
would be at the forefront of building it. The Internet just shot
off and created all the infrastructure for him, so he was pretty
smart really to just jump on the bandwagon rather than create a
competing network infrastructure.

Tis a wise thing to know what is wanted, wiser still to know when
it has been achieved and wisest of all to know when it is unachievable
for then striving is folly. [Magician]

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