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Re: [ontolog-forum] SME (subject matter experts) and Ontology developeme

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:12:36 -0400
Message-id: <5509B204.2010907@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 3/18/2015 9:52 AM, Thomas Johnston wrote:
> re IBM giving the keys to the PC kingdom to Bill Gates. Just when you
> thought there was nothing in the sound and fury of human existence in
> the corporate world that could surprise you anymore, there's a story
> like this.    (01)

If you'd like another example, Intel was having financial difficulties
in the early 1980s.  But the sales of the PC were so strong that IBM
wanted to ensure that the supply of Intel chips would be secure.
So IBM bought a large lump of Intel shares in order to guarantee
the survival of an important supplier.    (02)

IBM not only gave Microsoft a software monopoly, they also financed
the Wintel hardware-software monopoly.    (03)

> I believe that Steve Jobs picked up the idea for using mice as
> pointing devices from the Xerox PARC people, when he was taking
> a public tour of the place. I believe they were the same guys
> who invented Ethernet. In both cases, Xerox made nothing out of
> the brilliance of those guys.    (04)

Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) was an outstanding research
center in the 1970s, and it continues to do good work.  But in the
olden days, AT&T Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, and IBM Research were the
outstanding industrial research centers in the world.    (05)

There's a huge list of brilliant innovations that came out of those
labs.  But other companies often reaped the benefits from them.
Just a *very short* subset:    (06)

  1. From AT&T:  transistors, integrated circuits, fiber optics,
     UNIX...  The guys who invented transistors in 1947 went from
     AT&T to Fairchild in 1958, where they developed integrated
     circuits.  But they weren't getting sufficient recognition
     at Fairchild, so a few of them founded Intel.    (07)

     AT&T invented fiber optics, but they didn't want to obsolete
     their huge investment in copper wire.  So they had a very slow
     and "orderly" schedule for upgrading copper to fiber optics.
     After the gov't broke up the AT&T monopoly, fiber optics took
     over rapidly, and the cost of telephone service dropped rapidly.
     AT&T didn't want that.  If the Big Bad Government hadn't
     interfered, we'd still be in Ma Bell's orderly transition.    (08)

  2. For the great majority of innovations in computer systems from the
     1950s to 1980s, some researcher(s) from IBM either invented it or
     were in the forefront of developing it.  And some other company
     was often the leader in introducing products based on it.  But
     IBM's deep pockets + patents enabled them to catch up quickly.    (09)

     As just one example:  Ted Codd was the leader in developing and
     promoting relational database theory in the late 1960s and 1970s.
     IBM research implemented a good prototype (System R), which had
     a clean, logic-based foundation.  They designed and tested several
     query languages, of which SQL was one.  And they published the
     spec's in the IBM Journal of R & D.    (010)

     The CIA liked the spec's, and they issued a BAA for bids to build
     a version.  They wrote the BAA with the expectation that IBM would
     bid for and win the contract.  But IBM's "cash cow", which sold
     huge numbers of disk drives, was the IMS DB system.  That group
     was so powerful that they did everything possible to kill any
     internal competitor.  They got the IBM lawyers to point out that
     if the government paid for the development, they would own the
     software and make it freely available.    (011)

     So a tiny little start-up was the only bidder.  Their first version
     was terrible.  The second was barely usable.  And the third, which
     was more acceptable, was released commercially as Oracle.  The gov't
     owned those three versions, but Oracle owned all the later ones.    (012)

  3. Among other things, PARC was at the forefront of AI and computer
     systems developments for years.  Their researchers moved freely
     between Stanford and PARC.  In 1973, they introduced a very nice
     PC, which pioneered the WIMPy interface (Windows, Icons, Menus,
     and Pointing device):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Alto    (013)

     They continued to develop newer versions for years, but they
     were very expensive.  And Xerox management in Rochester, NY,
     was focused on copying machines.  They had also been burned
     by buying Scientific Data Systems (SDS) in 1969 and selling
     it at a loss in 1975.  So they had no interest in PCs.    (014)

As they say, generals always prepare "to fight the last war."
Politicians write new laws for new conditions in exactly the same
way as the old laws for the old conditions.  And corporate managers
always prepare to compete with their familiar old competitors.    (015)

But don't just blame the managers.  You can go to any academic
or corporate research center and find PhDs who spend 40 years
rewriting their dissertation until they finally get it right.
In fact, Chomsky has been spending 60 years rewriting his.    (016)

John    (017)

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