1999: the IT year in quotes

1999: the IT year in quotes

Gathered here for your delectation and amusement is a choice selection of quotes from the luminaries in the IT industry mirroring the major events of 1999.

Quotable favourites, such as IBM's Lou Gerstner, Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy, Apple Computer's Steve Jobs and Linux creator Linus Torvalds are well represented here.

However, given the continuing focus on Microsoft, especially with its ongoing legal run-ins, let's kick this off with how others in the IT industry view the Redmond software behemoth.

The Microsoft way as seen by others

"It's terrific 99 per cent of the time and about 1 per cent we argue over stuff . . . in life that's not a bad ratio." - Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs about his company's relationship with Microsoft. It's just like a marriage, said Jobs.

"The only way Microsoft can get people to use their stuff is if they buy a stake in them." - Sun chairman and CEO Scott McNealy, in relation to Microsoft's planned purchase of a $US5 billion stake in AT&T.

"It's like Henry Ford used to say: 'You can have any colour as long as it's black.' Microsoft is saying: 'You can access Microsoft Office from any machine as long as it's a PC.'" - Marco Boerries, StarDivision's founder and now Sun's vice president and general manager of Webtop and application software.

Microsoft in its own eyes

"We can't do what IBM can. We can't be the soup-to-nuts guy." - Microsoft president Steve Ballmer, in answer to users' calls for Microsoft's consulting division to provide a more comprehensive service.

There's always tomorrow

"We want to take over the world but we don't have to do it by tomorrow - it's OK to do it by next week, or even next month." - Linus Torvalds, in languid mood.

Have some concern for Joe and Josephine User!

"CEOs are tired of hearing our [the IT industry's] bullshit . . . because we haven't performed in their eyes." - Ray Lane, Oracle president and chief operating officer.

"Every CEO I talk to is scared to death to be 'Delled' or 'Amazoned'." - Mary Coleman, Baan chairman, CEO and president about users' fears.

Same as IT ever was?

"Today's [network] convergence story is mostly just that: it's a story." - Romulus Pereira, COO of Cabletron Systems.

Changing role of the PC

"The unreliability we have come to expect with personal computers we won't accept with other devices. You will reboot your computer if it crashes, but if your microwave crashes, you will take it back to the store." - Jim Waldo, distinguished engineer at Sun.

"We know that the PC era is over. The PC itself is not dead, but it no longer occupies centre stage and it is no longer the only available network access device." - Lou Gerstner, IBM chairman and CEO.

Do you Y2K?

"We are Andy Grove's company. We will be paranoid until the last minute." - John Davies, Intel's vice president and general manager for the chip giant's Asia-Pacific operations on his company's attitude to the year 2000 problem. A quote often ascribed to Grove and the title of one of his books is Only the paranoid survive.

"People talk about power plants' switches failing: switches don't look for a date. Electricity is electricity. It's not different after midnight. The thing we should be scared about is spreadsheets. People didn't follow the rules there. Y2K won't be catastrophic. The vast majority of problems will be cured by restarting the machine." - Sun Microsystems' chief strategy officer Bill Raduchel.

"W2K will be a bigger disaster than Y2K." - McNealy, referring to Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system.

In the bargain bin

"If you look around now for a network computer (NC), good luck, but you won't find any." - Former Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer, before he was ousted from Compaq by the board of directors in April.

Privacy, what privacy?

"Somebody has your medical records. Somebody has your money [in a bank]. You hand over credit card numbers to an absolute stranger in a restaurant. The level of privacy you have today is very low." - McNealy.

The ever-invasive Net

"The Internet is a weapon just sitting there on a table. Either you will pick it up, or your competitor will." - Dell Computer chairman and CEO Michael Dell.

Ain't technology grand?

"I have five e-mail accounts and five phones, and nobody can find me." - Eric Schmidt, Novell chairman and CEO.

"IS [information systems] time is longer than geological or legal time." - John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, commenting on the conservative nature of many IT departments.

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