By Paul Carroll
Presents the interior tale of the increase and fall of IBM, delivering a devastating research of company forms, loss of foresight, and decline. Reprint. 75,000 first printing. journey. LJ. NYT. ok.
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Extra resources for Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM
The programm ers at M icro soft found it odd that, even though the PC was IBM ’s smallest project, it still had m ore people writing specs for Microsoft’s operating system than Microsoft had actually writing the operating system. Estridge also dispatched people to Microsoft to make sure it was keeping its work secret. H e may have been a cowboy, but even he was enough of a product of the IBM culture that he couldn’t avoid the penchant for secrecy at all costs. Steve Ballmer got a call one day from an IB M er who said he w anted to arrange a visit.
But Watson soon realized what a good thing he had in H ollerith’s mechanical sorters and he went about setting up a force of professional-looking salesmen who could sell companies on the idea that they needed these calculators. W atson also hit on the idea of leasing the machines, which served the company so well over the decades to come. Leasing not only made the elaborate machines seem affordable by dividing their price into monthly pavments; it generated more revenue over the lifetime of a machine than Watson would have received if he had sold the machine outright.
Although Sams and IBM expected Gates to come in and ask them for a big fee up front, Gates planned to ask for a seemingly small royalty on each machine. In a crucial act of prudence, Gates also asked that IBM ’s license to use DOS be nonexclusive. In other words, he wanted to be able to sell rights to it to any company he chose. Even though Gates didn’t think DOS would sell much, he was already sophisticated enough that he wasn’t taking any chances. Gates didn’t make up his mind on exactly how to handle things until the last m inute and wasn’t at all sure how IBM would respond, BIG BLUES 33 but he was also cool enough to— as some of the IBM ers put it— play a little poker.
Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM by Paul Carroll