By Paul Carroll
Offers the interior tale of the increase and fall of IBM, delivering a devastating examine of company paperwork, loss of foresight, and decline. Reprint. 75,000 first printing. travel. LJ. NYT. okay.
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Extra resources for Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM
Then they left. In came troops of everyday programm ers, who are typically less than inspired and who, in dealing with such a large system, had a hard time discerning the grand vision behind the h u n dreds of pages of specifications. As usual insi,de IBM, having a small army of people dividing the project into hundreds of closely linked pieces m eant that they had to spend more time communicating with one another than actually writing code— because what might seem like a small change in one part of it could force people working on several other parts of it to make a switch akin to writing in German rather than in French.
That situation made the PC industry too restrictive for con sumers. It was as though someone buying a stereo had to buy a turnta ble, a tape player, an amplifier, headphones, and even the records and tapes all from the same company. Consumers insisted on being able to play their records on their friend s systems and on being able to shop around for the best of each type of stereo component, and the PC industry had to provide that same kind of mix-and-match capability before it would draw masses of buyers.
Watson even borrowed IBM ’s “Think’’ slogan from Eugene Patterson, the head of National Cash Register. W atson also had his first brush with an antitrust suit because of overly aggressive sales tactics that Patterson instructed him to use at the Cash. W atson was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison, but the conviction was overturned on a technicality and never pursued a second time because he had left the Cash. Although the facts of the case w eren’t in dispute, Watson never acknowledged guilt or showed any remorse.