It was a year in which the Internet dot-com bubble well and truly burst, Napster and peer-to-peer networking became household names, and technology lawsuits and viruses kept a-flying. Enjoy!
Show Me the Money
"Clap if you are interested in personal wealth!" -- Pat Sueltz, president of Sun Microsystems's software products and platform division, telling developers at the JavaOne conference that Java equals money. This was before the dot-com market meltdown really hit home and Sun started preferring to be known as the 'o' in "old economy," not its tagline, "the dot in dot-com." (7 June)Hack my system, please"[Microsoft] Reader has very strong encryption; we've been out [with the product for] three weeks, so far, so good. We aimed high -- I said I wanted one week [without being hacked] at least." -- Dick Brass, Microsoft's vice president of technology development. (28 August)So, you can make up your mind?
"People ask me, 'Dale, why don't you change the name back to Borland?' But there's a lot of brand equity in Inprise, too. If I change the name again, it'll be, 'What, you can't make up your mind?'" -- Dale Fuller, at that time Inprise/Borland's interim CEO and president, on his company's name. Fuller then went on to have a change of heart in November when the software vendor once again changed its name ... back to Borland! (11 July)Who's been going through my garbage?
"Maybe our investigating organisation did some things that were unsavoury -- certainly from a personal hygiene point of view. But we got the truth. I believe in full disclosure." -- Oracle's Ellison defending his company's decision to hire detective firm Investigation Group International (IGI) to investigate three pro-Microsoft advocacy groups -- The Independent Institute, the National Taxpayers Union, and the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT). IGI reportedly bribed cleaning staff in at least one of the advocacy groups to turn over the contents of their trash bins. (28 June) Microsoft, the lamb?
"For the first time ever, Microsoft will compete on an equal level to us. It will be guerilla warfare, they're coming to our level. They're lambs coming into the jungle. We've been in the jungle for a long time." -- Borland's Fuller, describing Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's ruling to break up Microsoft (on hold until the appeals process is ended) as "tremendously helpful." Microsoft owns 10 per cent of Borland. (11 July)"People are more likely to attack Microsoft now than they were a year ago -- whether it's hardware or software, they see Microsoft as having had its attention turned to the antitrust case, and that creates opportunities for other people." -- Larry Augustin, VA Linux Systems CEO and president. (17 August)"It's not that we'll compete with them on all fronts -- they're a giant; all I want to do is smash their toe." -- Caldera chairman and CEO Ransom Love on taking on Microsoft. (21 March)But we're best friends... now"We've finally figured out how to work with each other." -- Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs on his company's on-off relationship with Sun, claiming that Sun chairman and CEO Scott McNealy was too "busy putting Java into light bulbs" to worry about cooperation between the two companies. (6 June)It's just a job, Bill"If Gates represents the emotional side of Microsoft, Ballmer -- as far as it's possible for Microsoft management -- represents the rational side... I do think Microsoft is a religion for Bill, while it's a job for Steve." -- Chris Le Tocq, a research director with Gartner Dataquest, on news that Microsoft President Steve Ballmer has taken over the CEO role from Gates. (14 January)"If Gates is going back into programming and design, this is the best thing that ever happened to Linux." -- Jon "Maddog" Hall, executive director of the nonprofit vendor group Linux International, addressing an audience at LinuxWorld Hong Kong. Gates had just added chief software architect to his company chairman role. (January 14.)I really love my kid, honest I do"If I could embed a locator chip in my child right now, I know I would do that. Some people call that Big Brother; I call it being a father." -- Sun's McNealy. (January 6)One reason electronic books haven't taken off"We're at 1908 now; this is the Model T eBook. This is the worst eBook we'll ever have." -- Microsoft's Brass holding up a notebook displaying a Star Trek eBook (28 August 28)Who loves ya, baby?
"It's difficult for a human being not to open up a message that says "I love you," which I'm sure the creator understood." -- AT&T spokesman Burke Stenson on the Love Bug virus. In the wake of the virus, the US telecommunications carrier shut down 75,000 of its 138,000 e-mail servers around the world. (4 May)"The message was noticed before lunch. It was a message sending love to you, which is the sort of message a lot of us here don't expect to be receiving." -- Muir Morton, the deputy sergeant at arms for the British House of Commons. Both the British Parliament's House of Commons and House of Lords were hit, leading to a shut down of e-mail that lasted a couple of hours. (4 May)Hurrah for Napster!
"Peer-to-peer computing could usher in the next generation of the Internet, much as we saw Mosaic usher in the last era. This is a revolution that could change computing as we know it." -- Pat Gelsinger, vice president and general manager of Intel's Desktop Products Group, backing the P2P (peer-to-peer) model of computing popularised by Napster (24 August)Boo for Napster!
"To a large number of people, stealing bits is not seen as stealing. That monstrous falsehood provides righteous justification for widespread thievery." -- Microsoft's Brass, castigating Napster users and their ilk who believe such behavior is A-OK as "trust fund Marxists" and "digital defeatists." (28 August)Don't worry, be crappy!
"Don't worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test.... Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap -- but it was a revolutionary piece of crap." -- CEO of Garage.com and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki. He did hasten to add while "it's OK to ship crap, but it's not OK to stay crappy." Sigh, that's a relief! (25 April)Rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated"I'm feeling much better" -- Ellison's response to news of a story that he'd apparently crashed his jet fighter into the Oracle headquarters parking lot and died. The Oracle chief also revealed his choice of actor to play him in his story of his life -- martial arts expert Steven Seagal. Now, that's wishful thinking on a grand scale! (13 November)Not forgetting Microsoft vs the DOJ (now at the appeals stage)"I think it would be absolutely reckless and irresponsible for anyone to try and break up this company." -- Microsoft's Ballmer. (13 January)A breakup would "slow Microsoft down with the equivalent of a regulatory death sentence while the high-tech economy whizzes by on Internet time. This solution would be a boon for our competitors, but would be harmful to consumers." -- e-mail from Microsoft sent to members of US Congress. (16 February)"I think the remedy [splitting Microsoft in two] is going to produce two big gorillas instead of one big gorilla." -- Michael Redman, information systems director at Nicholson Manufacturing in Seattle. (5 May)"Microsoft is not buddy-buddy with Judge [Thomas Penfield] Jackson and the relationship hasn't warmed up over time. There is something in their bones that prevents them from saying 'We'll do things like everybody else.' There is a mentality of Bill and Paul [Microsoft cofounders Bill Gates and Paul Allen] and 12 guys in a garage, and the rules don't apply. The downside is, they seem insensitive to their role as a market leader." -- Randal Picker, a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School. (24 May)"I'm reminded of the old saying that today is the first day of the rest of your life. I believe today is the first day of the rest of this case." -- Microsoft's Gates confidently predicting victory on appeal against the US District Court judge's breakup order. (7 June)"Microsoft saying there are no dead bodies, therefore it didn't do anything, is the wrong standard for a monopolisation case." -- Richard Gilbert, professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley. From 1993 to 1995, Gilbert served as the deputy assistant attorney general for economics in the DOJ's antitrust division. (28 November)And finally, from one monopolist to another"The basic disadvantage of monopoly [is that] it can allow the monopolist to behave in an authoritarian or inefficient manner. We often remind ourselves to avoid such behavior." -- No, it's not Microsoft, it's Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications (VNPT) chairman Do Trung Ta. To call the US from Vietnam is more than 10 times as expensive as calling the US from deregulated Singapore.
(Stephen Lawson and David Legard of IDG News Service contributed to this story.)