Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

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Comments

  • Reply 41 of 50
    How does an article celebrating the life of a great technologist and (far more importantly) philanthropist wind up having the comments section sound like an argument over mouse buttons?
    Because geeks.
    baconstangGeorgeBMacJWSC
  • Reply 42 of 50
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,504member
    eightzero said:
    eightzero said:
    I'm sort of vaguely aware that Microsoft was something of an innovator in early operating systems. DOS, Winders, that sort of thing. But honestly, I have no idea what Paul Allen's contribution was in all that. Was he a programmer (Like Woz?) Or more like a business guy (like Steve?) I use products every hour of the day that I know came from Steve and Woz, but no idea what Paul's connection was to the government provided winders computer I am forced to use every day. What is his claim to fame? Other than getting uber-rich?
    I've wondered that myself.
    Microsoft never actually created anything of value (except Office -- but that was much later).   They bought a second rate OS and sold it effectively.  They then copied a better one from Steve.  

    Microsoft's genius was in sales and marketing rather than technology.

    From a technical standpoint they were con artists -- foisting a 2nd or 3rd rate OS on the world.  CPM was better DOS and both MacOS and OS2 were better than Windows.   But, technical reviews of the period gushed over the MS products and trashed its competitors.  And that, combined with the MS strategy of pretty much giving it away to OEM's insured its success. 

    It goes to show that you don't actually have to create a better mouse trap -- you just have to be able to convince people that you did.

    Currently, we have to ask ourselves:   How many would be using Windows today if it had not become so pervasive? 
    I guess I need to read about him some. A headline today says he was a "true innovator." I've no idea what he made at all. He was a real estate developer. He bought a lot of airplanes. He was making a space launch system. I actually don't know if he had an airman's certificate. 

    I actually live only a few miles from the Microsoft Redmond campus. One day I got rather lost, and bumbled through it on a bike ride. I had no idea all that was there. I asked a friend who worked there, "what to they actually make there?" He said: "Money."

    I suppose this is true of any tech company - the Spaceship thingy in Cuppertino actually makes nothing too -  but I'm just not familiar with anything Paul Allen actually made. 
    The “spaceship thingy” is where the designs and ideas originate, so yes, it’s where inventions are born. China provides the tool shop and manufacturing for those ideas and plans.
    Agreed. They actually make nothing there. It is all made somewhere else. People think things up at the thingy. You know...the same way people think things up elsewhere. In other thingies. 

    lordjohnwhorfinbaconstang
  • Reply 43 of 50
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,273member
    steven n. said:
    The reports saying how much he contributed to modern computing surprise me a little. I think of Microsoft’s relationship to technology like McDonalds’ relationship to cuisine—sure, they have been innovative over the years, but not in terms of coming up with outstanding breakthrough products, just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again. It would be interesting to see an in-depth DED piece (is that redundant?) covering significant MS innovations over the years, if such an article is possible.  
    I think this is myopic in many ways. While Microsoft has a horrible design sense (and I found them overly ruthless in some of their theft of ideas), it is hard to underestimate the impact their business model had on the tech industry. Building a "just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again" is no easy feat and it requires a reasonably solid product available to millions at a price point allowing mass adoption.
    Having a great product is one way to sell a lot of product.
    Another way is to be great at marketing a mediocre product.
    ...  Microsoft chose the latter.    It started with flooding the market with the product by giving it away to OEMs and then smoozing and/or bribing tech writers to favor their product.   In the end, it seemed like there was not much other choice -- there was, but the higher quality products were smothered.
  • Reply 44 of 50
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,273member
    eightzero said:
    eightzero said:
    I'm sort of vaguely aware that Microsoft was something of an innovator in early operating systems. DOS, Winders, that sort of thing. But honestly, I have no idea what Paul Allen's contribution was in all that. Was he a programmer (Like Woz?) Or more like a business guy (like Steve?) I use products every hour of the day that I know came from Steve and Woz, but no idea what Paul's connection was to the government provided winders computer I am forced to use every day. What is his claim to fame? Other than getting uber-rich?
    I've wondered that myself.
    Microsoft never actually created anything of value (except Office -- but that was much later).   They bought a second rate OS and sold it effectively.  They then copied a better one from Steve.  

    Microsoft's genius was in sales and marketing rather than technology.

    From a technical standpoint they were con artists -- foisting a 2nd or 3rd rate OS on the world.  CPM was better DOS and both MacOS and OS2 were better than Windows.   But, technical reviews of the period gushed over the MS products and trashed its competitors.  And that, combined with the MS strategy of pretty much giving it away to OEM's insured its success. 

    It goes to show that you don't actually have to create a better mouse trap -- you just have to be able to convince people that you did.

    Currently, we have to ask ourselves:   How many would be using Windows today if it had not become so pervasive? 
    I guess I need to read about him some. A headline today says he was a "true innovator." I've no idea what he made at all. He was a real estate developer. He bought a lot of airplanes. He was making a space launch system. I actually don't know if he had an airman's certificate. 

    I actually live only a few miles from the Microsoft Redmond campus. One day I got rather lost, and bumbled through it on a bike ride. I had no idea all that was there. I asked a friend who worked there, "what to they actually make there?" He said: "Money."

    I suppose this is true of any tech company - the Spaceship thingy in Cuppertino actually makes nothing too -  but I'm just not familiar with anything Paul Allen actually made. 
    The “spaceship thingy” is where the designs and ideas originate, so yes, it’s where inventions are born. China provides the tool shop and manufacturing for those ideas and plans.
    I think he confused "not producing anything" with "not producing anything tangible".   Big difference there.
  • Reply 45 of 50
    aknabi said:
    djsherly said:
    maestro64 said:
    I read he claimed to creating a two button mouse, I think Steve stole the idea Xerox and they had a two button mouse, but Steve knew it could be done with one button. What an accomplishment.
    It *could* be done with one button. And a modifier key. That modifier key was *already on the mouse*. So instead, you have to locate the modifier key on the keyboard. Two devices required to perform a single action.

    Why get rid of it?

    dont get me wrong. He got a lot of things right. In my view the single button mouse was not one of them. 
    Didn't the original STAR mouse have three buttons?  Less is more.  As things got more advanced and complicated, the second button became useful.  Once people were familiar with the mouse as a tool, the second button wasn't confusing.  One was the right number in 1984.
    Yup... use them and Smalltalk in the 70's and 80's... left button (the "red" button, though they weren't colored) was for object/text selection and movement, the middle ("yellow") button for a context menu on the object or view area (pane) you're in and the right ("blue") button for the window menu (move/close/resize... they didn't have a window bar yet... I remember copying that from the Mac/X Windows to Smalltalk window tab being one of my contributions to the environment).

    To bring the mouse to the masses one button was the right choice... from a IxD perspective I think it's agreed by most that 2-buttons is the "right" number.

    And to the topic... RIP Paul Allen... I guess one could consider him the "Woz" of Microsoft. Hope with all the fortune and success he achieved he was able to have a happy life (I can imagine it can be tough with the hassles that much wealth can bring into one's personal relationships)
    Woz was an inventor and tech wunderkind.  Wasn't Paul Allen "just" a businessman?  Does he have any patents to his name?  Maybe he does; I'm asking.
  • Reply 46 of 50
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,504member
    aknabi said:
    djsherly said:
    maestro64 said:
    I read he claimed to creating a two button mouse, I think Steve stole the idea Xerox and they had a two button mouse, but Steve knew it could be done with one button. What an accomplishment.
    It *could* be done with one button. And a modifier key. That modifier key was *already on the mouse*. So instead, you have to locate the modifier key on the keyboard. Two devices required to perform a single action.

    Why get rid of it?

    dont get me wrong. He got a lot of things right. In my view the single button mouse was not one of them. 
    Didn't the original STAR mouse have three buttons?  Less is more.  As things got more advanced and complicated, the second button became useful.  Once people were familiar with the mouse as a tool, the second button wasn't confusing.  One was the right number in 1984.
    Yup... use them and Smalltalk in the 70's and 80's... left button (the "red" button, though they weren't colored) was for object/text selection and movement, the middle ("yellow") button for a context menu on the object or view area (pane) you're in and the right ("blue") button for the window menu (move/close/resize... they didn't have a window bar yet... I remember copying that from the Mac/X Windows to Smalltalk window tab being one of my contributions to the environment).

    To bring the mouse to the masses one button was the right choice... from a IxD perspective I think it's agreed by most that 2-buttons is the "right" number.

    And to the topic... RIP Paul Allen... I guess one could consider him the "Woz" of Microsoft. Hope with all the fortune and success he achieved he was able to have a happy life (I can imagine it can be tough with the hassles that much wealth can bring into one's personal relationships)
    Woz was an inventor and tech wunderkind.  Wasn't Paul Allen "just" a businessman?  Does he have any patents to his name?  Maybe he does; I'm asking.
    I've done a bit of reading to try to understand this better. It looks like both Allen and Gates were rich kids that had access to early computers because they chose their parents well. There are some apocryphal stories about them "breaking into" university computer labs to "work on their programming skills." Allen appears to have gotten some early operating systems under his and Gates' control, and Gates even disputed his contribution to establishing MS, claiming he (Gates) did all the work on the code. Allen's stake in MS was reduced.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 47 of 50
    steven n. said:
    The reports saying how much he contributed to modern computing surprise me a little. I think of Microsoft’s relationship to technology like McDonalds’ relationship to cuisine—sure, they have been innovative over the years, but not in terms of coming up with outstanding breakthrough products, just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again. It would be interesting to see an in-depth DED piece (is that redundant?) covering significant MS innovations over the years, if such an article is possible.  
    I think this is myopic in many ways. While Microsoft has a horrible design sense (and I found them overly ruthless in some of their theft of ideas), it is hard to underestimate the impact their business model had on the tech industry. Building a "just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again" is no easy feat and it requires a reasonably solid product available to millions at a price point allowing mass adoption.
    Having a great product is one way to sell a lot of product.
    Another way is to be great at marketing a mediocre product.
    ...  Microsoft chose the latter.    It started with flooding the market with the product by giving it away to OEMs and then smoozing and/or bribing tech writers to favor their product.   In the end, it seemed like there was not much other choice -- there was, but the higher quality products were smothered.
    What a load of generalist crap.  It was IBM's and Microsoft's invention that first brought computing from large corporate data centres into USA homes.  The subsequent manufacturing of cheap PCs by others that licensed Microsoft's MS-DOS was responsible for getting personal computing into every corner of the planet and changing lives in the process.  Just because I have an Apple ecosystem in my home doesn't detract from Microsoft's clear contribution to humanity.
  • Reply 48 of 50
    lmaclmac Posts: 196member
    I suggest for the youngsters here that you watch "Triumph of the Nerds." It's on YouTube. 

  • Reply 49 of 50
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,273member
    kimberly said:
    steven n. said:
    The reports saying how much he contributed to modern computing surprise me a little. I think of Microsoft’s relationship to technology like McDonalds’ relationship to cuisine—sure, they have been innovative over the years, but not in terms of coming up with outstanding breakthrough products, just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again. It would be interesting to see an in-depth DED piece (is that redundant?) covering significant MS innovations over the years, if such an article is possible.  
    I think this is myopic in many ways. While Microsoft has a horrible design sense (and I found them overly ruthless in some of their theft of ideas), it is hard to underestimate the impact their business model had on the tech industry. Building a "just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again" is no easy feat and it requires a reasonably solid product available to millions at a price point allowing mass adoption.
    Having a great product is one way to sell a lot of product.
    Another way is to be great at marketing a mediocre product.
    ...  Microsoft chose the latter.    It started with flooding the market with the product by giving it away to OEMs and then smoozing and/or bribing tech writers to favor their product.   In the end, it seemed like there was not much other choice -- there was, but the higher quality products were smothered.
    What a load of generalist crap.  It was IBM's and Microsoft's invention that first brought computing from large corporate data centres into USA homes.  The subsequent manufacturing of cheap PCs by others that licensed Microsoft's MS-DOS was responsible for getting personal computing into every corner of the planet and changing lives in the process.  Just because I have an Apple ecosystem in my home doesn't detract from Microsoft's clear contribution to humanity.
    You need to brush up on your history....
    While you confirm that MS was successful propagating their OS throughout the world, you ignore the fact that both their DOS and the Windows systems were second rate products.  

    Again, if you understood history you would understand that they did that through great marketing of their second rate or third rate products.  Part of that was to pretty much give it away to OEMs in order to propagate it.   And, as I mentioned, the smoozing and bribing of tech writers and reviews.   Again,  great marketing of a mediocre product.
  • Reply 50 of 50
    steven n. said:
    The reports saying how much he contributed to modern computing surprise me a little. I think of Microsoft’s relationship to technology like McDonalds’ relationship to cuisine—sure, they have been innovative over the years, but not in terms of coming up with outstanding breakthrough products, just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again. It would be interesting to see an in-depth DED piece (is that redundant?) covering significant MS innovations over the years, if such an article is possible.  
    I think this is myopic in many ways. While Microsoft has a horrible design sense (and I found them overly ruthless in some of their theft of ideas), it is hard to underestimate the impact their business model had on the tech industry. Building a "just very good at getting a huge number of customers to buy a few standard products over and over again" is no easy feat and it requires a reasonably solid product available to millions at a price point allowing mass adoption.
    You’re saying the same thing that I did—that their genius was in making products that were “good enough” and getting them in the hands of many millions of people, rather than making products that were way better than anything that anyone had produced up to that point. I am quite literally myopic, but I think you might be presbyopic.
    GeorgeBMac
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