> For a long time I could not bring myself to take the notion [of a free OS] seriously. It was like hearing rumors that a group of model rocket enthusiasts had created a completely functional Saturn V by exchanging blueprints on the Net and mailing valves and flanges to each other.
Unrelated: It's amazing how many predictions he got right. It took Microsoft another 15 years to fully realize that you cannot "bet the farm" on your OS.
Keep in mind that Apple's ability to monopolize its own hardware supply was once cited, by learned observers, as a great advantage over Microsoft. At the time, it seemed to place them in a much stronger position. In the end, it nearly killed them, and may kill them yet. The problem, for Apple, was that most of the world's computer users ended up owning cheaper hardware. But cheap hardware couldn't run MacOS, and so these people switched to Windows
Well, almost 20 years later. It seems like Apple'sstrategy was right. By owning the hardware and software and having the culture to do both, they were able to come out with the iMac that made them profitable, the iPod that made them relevant, and the iPhone that made them rich.
Owning their own OS allowed them to take one OS and port it to phones, tablets, watches, set top boxes, and speakers.
Unix, by contrast, is not so much a product as it is a painstakingly compiled oral history of the hacker subculture. It is our Gilgamesh epic.
It’d be interesting to see this updated 20 years on. Microsoft giving away OS’s. Apple making money. Linux powering 90% of the cloud. Unix/Linux in nearly every phone on the planet. The command line and batch processing re-ascendant.
"This is exactly how the World Wide Web works: the HTML files are the pithy description on the paper tape, and your Web browser is Ronald Reagan"
already worth the read
Garrett Birkel's 2004 annotations are also interesting. They are now themselves older than ITBWTCL was when he Birkel wrote them.
"The only real question about BeOS is whether or not it is doomed."
As a former BeOS user, this still stings me a bit.