[TUHS] Favorite unix design principles?

Jon Steinhart jon at fourwinds.com
Sun Jan 31 09:22:56 AEST 2021

John Cowan writes:
> Decades ago I worked out the lifecycle of tech companies:
> 1) Engineering-driven: the goal is to make and sell high-quality products.
> DEC and HP were like this for a long time.
> 2) Sales-driven: the goal is to sell products, high-quality or not.  Too
> many examples to specify.
> 3) Finance-driven: the goal is to make money, whether you sell products or
> not.  The classic case here is Carnegie Steel.  When Carnegie told his
> direct reports they were going into the railroad business and they
> protested that the company knew nothing about it, he said "Carnegie Steel
> isn't about making steel, it's about making money, and anyone who forgets
> that is fired."
> 4) Survival-driven: the goal is to keep the company going whether you make
> money or not.  Auto companies just after bailouts are in this step.  In
> particular, Chrysler was bailed out in 1979 and again in 2009: see Tom
> Paxton's song "I'm Changing My Name To Chrysler" (covered by Arlo and Pete
> on _Precious Friends_).

Don't want to get too off topic here, but I consider myself fortunate
to have spent the prime of my career working on #1.  I always believed
that if one made high quality-products that met a customer's need that
the rest would take care of itself.  Yeah, I'm naive.  I see 2-4 as
indicative of Silicon Valley today where I don't think that I could work.
It's no longer about making great things, it's about making money, if if
absolutely necessary, making something to support that goal.  If you took
the trouble to read the Microsoft antitrust trial depositions, you'd see
that this was exactly Bill Gate's MO.  He would try to tank competition
through any means necessary except making a better product; that only
happened when everything else failed.

I've probably ranted about this before, but to me this is emblematic of
how America has lost its way.  My big evil villians are Jack Welch and
Bill Gates.  When I was growing up and kids were asked "What do you want
to be when you grow up?", the answer was always astronaut first, then
doctor, lawyer, engineer, and so on.  Post Microsoft, the answer was "I
want to be as rich as Bill Gates."  People just want the outcome without
having to do any of the work, and just want the results without the joy
of actual accomplishment.  I find it sad.


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