There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen

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pages: 424 words: 119,679

It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, coronavirus, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, factory automation, failed state, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Lyft, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, The Chicago School, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, uber lyft, universal basic income, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration

There would be no phone in your pocket: telecom technology would have been locked in place around the rotary-dial Princess in order to sustain the overpriced, consumer-be-damned Bell System monopoly. There would be no laptops or tablets: Silicon Valley inventions would have been stamped “classified” and reserved for the CIA, with an obsequious government official declaring—as Ken Olsen, founder of 1960s electronics giant Digital Equipment Corporation, actually did—“ There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in the home.” Only the rich would travel by jet: airline competition would be forbidden, pricing out average men and women in order to protect salaries at Eastern, Pan Am, and TWA. Standards of living would be far lower, since median household income of a generation ago, adjusted for inflation and household size, was less than half of today’s. There have been experiments with forms of economics that have someone in control—fascism, communism, feudalism, monarchy.

In 2015, President Barack Obama said he became convinced: “Obama: Daughter’s Asthma Brings Home Climate Change Debate,” Chicago Tribune, April 8, 2015. Chapter 4 not to negotiate a treaty, not to denounce Western imperialism, but to order jetliners: Do a Google search for “Boeing” and “Vietnam celebrates first 787–9 Dreamliner” to behold a photograph that will knock the socks off any Vietnam War veteran, whether American, Vietnamese, or Australian. “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in the home”: Quoted in David Boaz, Beyond the Status Quo (Washington, DC: Cato Press, 1985). Hillary Clinton’s declaration that she would be: Avi Zenilman, “Commander-in-Chief of the Economy,” Politico, March 24, 2008. the crack-up disproved “the idea of an all-powerful free market that is always right”: Bruce Crumley, “Europe’s Conservatives Sour on the Free Market,” Time, September 26, 2008.


pages: 165 words: 47,193

The End of Work: Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job by John Tamny

Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, cloud computing, commoditize, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Downton Abbey, future of work, George Gilder, haute cuisine, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra

In a prosperous and economically dynamic society, the nature of work is always changing. Universities will always be behind the curve. So will trade schools. Even the people driving all this change can’t predict the future. In late 1977, Digital Equipment was a blue-chip technology corporation. But when its CEO, Ken Olson, was asked about the personal desktop computer that rival IBM was readying for the market, he responded that “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”40 At the time, Harvard dropout Bill Gates’s obscure startup, Microsoft, had thirty-eight employees.41 Gates plainly didn’t agree with Olson about the future of the personal computer, and neither did his eventual rival Steve Jobs, the Reed College dropout who founded Apple Computer in 1977.42 Four years later, Apple went public in the most oversubscribed initial public offering since 1956,43 turning three hundred Apple employees into millionaires.


pages: 228 words: 65,953

The Six-Figure Second Income: How to Start and Grow a Successful Online Business Without Quitting Your Day Job by David Lindahl, Jonathan Rozek

bounce rate, California gold rush, Charles Lindbergh, financial independence, Google Earth, new economy, speech recognition, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen

It’s much less painful and much more profitable to have your business in an area that’s already somewhat established. Consider what it’s like to enter a completely new market—no visible demand exists for that product. When the first person invented crossword puzzles, computer games, and, for that matter, even the computers themselves, no immediate demand existed for them. Ken Olsen, who founded Digital Equipment Corp, said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”1 Demand had to be built for all these inventions. On the other hand, when you offer a new-and-improved dog collar to the market today, you have millions of potentially immediate users, depending on how good your doggie collar is. Here’s the really excellent news: Most of your competition is not very good at selling dog collars. Just think back to your own experiences in stores and through mail order.


pages: 254 words: 76,064

Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito, Jeff Howe

3D printing, Albert Michelson, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, buy low sell high, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ferguson, Missouri, fiat currency, financial innovation, Flash crash, frictionless, game design, Gerolamo Cardano, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, microbiome, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pirate software, pre–internet, prisoner's dilemma, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Coase, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Singularitarianism, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, universal basic income, unpaid internship, uranium enrichment, urban planning, WikiLeaks

It took thirty years before managers exploited the flexibility electrical engines allowed and organized factories according to work flow, doubling and sometimes even tripling productivity.6 Our own era isn’t immune either. In 1977, Ken Olson, the president of one of the world’s largest and most successful computer companies, Digital Equipment Corporation, told an audience that there was “no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”7 He stuck to this view throughout the 1980s, long after Microsoft and Apple had proved him wrong. Thirty years later, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told USA Today that there was “no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”8 These anecdotes, besides being funny and amazing in a nerdy kind of way, do have a point, and it’s not to bring ridicule down on long-deceased American inventors.


pages: 287 words: 80,180

Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim, Renée A. Mauborgne

Asian financial crisis, borderless world, call centre, cloud computing, commoditize, creative destruction, disruptive innovation, endogenous growth, haute couture, index fund, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, market fundamentalism, NetJets, Network effects, RAND corporation, Skype, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Vanguard fund, zero-sum game

The machine had no monitor, no permanent memory, only 256 characters of temporary memory, no software, and no keyboard. To enter data, users manipulated switches on the front of the box, and program results were displayed in a pattern of flashing lights on the front panel. Unsurprisingly, no one saw much of a market for such difficult-to-use home computers. Expectations were so low that in that same year Ken Olsen, president of Digital Equipment, famously said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” Two years later, the Apple II would make Olsen eat his words, creating a blue ocean of home computing. Based largely on existing technology, the Apple II offered a solution with an all-in-one design in a plastic casing, including the keyboard, power supply, and graphics, that was easy to use. The Apple II came with software ranging from games to businesses programs such as the Apple Writer word processor and the VisiCalc spreadsheet, making the computer accessible to the mass of buyers.


pages: 350 words: 98,077

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dark matter, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, ImageNet competition, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mark Zuckerberg, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Hofstadter has noted Kurzweil’s clever use of what Hofstadter calls the “Christopher Columbus ploy,”38 referring to the Ira Gershwin song “They All Laughed,” which includes the line “They all laughed at Christopher Columbus.” Kurzweil cites numerous quotations from prominent people in history who completely underestimated the progress and impact of technology. Here are a few examples. IBM’s chairman, Thomas J. Watson, in 1943: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Digital Equipment Corporation’s cofounder Ken Olsen in 1977: “There’s no reason for individuals to have a computer in their home.” Bill Gates in 1981: “640,000 bytes of memory ought to be enough for anybody.”39 Hofstadter, having been stung by his own wrong predictions on computer chess, was hesitant to dismiss Kurzweil’s ideas out of hand, as crazy as they sounded. “Like Deep Blue’s defeat of Kasparov, it certainly gives one pause for thought.”40 Wagering on the Turing Test As a career choice, “futurist” is nice work if you can get it.


pages: 406 words: 88,820

Television disrupted: the transition from network to networked TV by Shelly Palmer

barriers to entry, call centre, commoditize, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, hypertext link, interchangeable parts, invention of movable type, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, James Watt: steam engine, Leonard Kleinrock, linear programming, Marc Andreessen, market design, Metcalfe’s law, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Skype, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Telecommunications Act of 1996, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, yield management

A few years later in 1876, a Western Union internal memo included this prescient edict: “This ‘telephone-thing’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” These predictions might have been penned by layman, but even being a successful businessman doesn’t seem to enhance predictive powers past a point. Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corporation, is famous for his 1977 quote, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home,” as is H.M. Warner, head of Warner Brothers Movie Studios, for asking, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” back in 1927. Even being the richest man in the world does not seem to guarantee the quality of any given prediction, as Bill Gates opined in 1981, “640K ought to be enough [memory] for anybody.” Limited predictive power is not limited to observers. Sometimes (actually, very often) the inventor of a technology will not truly understand what they have invented or how it will eventually be used.


pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, AltaVista, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, low earth orbit, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, private space industry, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

At a big-picture level, scientists learn about our world by extrapolating laws of nature or predicting how they will operate in unfamiliar situations. It’s easy to cherry-pick predictions that make the prognosticator look foolish in hindsight. A classic example is that of Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, who said in 1943: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Here’s Ken Olsen, cofounder of Digital Equipment Corporation, in 1977: “There’s no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” There are many other such miscalculations in the world of information technology, such as the inventor of Ethernet saying the Internet would collapse and die in 1996, and the founder of YouTube saying in 2002 that his company would go nowhere because there just weren’t many videos to watch.2 For the record, in 2014 there were two billion PCs, two billion websites, and 40 billion hours of YouTube videos watched.


pages: 696 words: 143,736

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, fudge factor, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, information retrieval, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, the medium is the message, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

—IBM Chairman Thomas Watson, 1943 “Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” —Popular Mechanics, 1949 “It would appear that we have reached the limits of what is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements, as they tend to sound pretty silly in five years.” —John von Neumann, 1949 “There’s no reason for individuals to have a computer in their home.” —Ken Olson, 1977 “640,000 bytes of memory ought to be enough for anybody.” —Bill Gates, 1981 “Long before the year 2000, the entire antiquated structure of college degrees, majors and credits will be a shambles.” —Alvin Toffler “The Internet will catastrophically collapse in 1996.” —Robert Metcalfe (inventor of Ethernet), who, in 1997, ate his words (literally) in front of an audience Now I get to toot my own horn, and can share with you those predictions of mine that worked out particularly well.


The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara

"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K

Also see Sally Smith Hughes, Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011). 7. Robert A. Swanson, oral history interviews by Sally Smith Hughes, 1996 and 1997, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2001. 8. David Ahl, Interview with Gordon Bell, Creative Computing 6, no. 4 (April 1980), 88–89, via Garson O’Toole, “There is No Reason for Any Individual to Have a Computer in Their Home,” Quote Investigator, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/09/14/home-computer/#return-note-16883-1 archived at https://perma.cc/5M5R-HQMA. At the time, the minicomputer market was $2.5 billion, and Digital controlled 40 percent of it. See Stanley Klein, “The Maxigrowth of Minicomputers,” The New York Times, October 2, 1977, 3. Arthur Rock, interviews by Sally Smith Hughes, 2008 and 2009 “Early Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists,” Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California, 56. 9.