Post by Gregory Shearman Post by Dan D. Lyons
If any car was 100% free then it would have nearly 100% market share no
matter how aggressive Toyota was.
Remember, for almost 20 years Ford ONLY offered the Model T and you
could only get it in black. If Ford had mandated that all car dealers
sold ONLY Model Ts, demanded that they be sold ONLY "AS IS", with
absolutely no modifications allowed, required special tools for the
mechanics, and jailed any mechanic who attempted to alter or modify a
Model T in any way, it would have had a chilling effect on the
industry. As it is, Ford stifled innovation by refusing to support
new innovations such as automatic spark advance (you set advance
manually on the Model T), fuel mixture in the carburetor (also manual
on the Model T). The irony is that Model T Fords were actually very
dangerous. Attempting to slow down or speed up would cause the car to
backfire, which often caused horses to panic. Drivers would be so
involved with mixture, spark advance, and manual throttle that they
were often too destracted to avoid hazards. Ford didn't even have a
Thomas Edison was so committed to protecting his patent on the
governer used to syncronize generators that he fought alternating
current for almost a decade. It was only when Westinghouse was able
to demonstrate that they could use transformers and balancing loops to
distribute power across thousands of homes and miles of line, that
General Electric finally made the switch to alternating current.
Thomas Edison also use draconian measures to protect is patents on the
movie cameras. Producers were required to pay royalties in advance
and royalties on the movie tickets. When they didn't, Edison sent
hired goons who would go out and break the cameras or seize the
cameras and the film. Edison's goons chased these movie producers all
the way from New York and New Jersey to California. Eventually, the
courts ruled that overstepped his rights and revoked his patent on the
camera and the projector. This ruling opened the door for other
innovations such as the sound track and color film.
Post by Gregory Shearman
But windows is free when you purchase a computer.
Actually, Windows is part of the price of the computer whether it's
installed or not. The OEMs pay for the licenses, and the price they
pay is based on minimum commitments made. For example, a small
retailer might have to charge $120/copy for OEM licenses installed on
custom configured computers. A company like Dell or HP makes a
minimum commitment of 120% of their previous years sales to get
discounted prices that can be as low as $30 per PC. A minumum
commitment of 119% would bring the price to $60 per PC. As a result,
if they sold 10 million computers the previous year, they could get 10
million licenses for $600 million, or they could get 12 million
licenses for $360 million. It's not hard to figure out which deal to
The problem is that these licenses can't be sold to other OEMs, can't
be sold at retail, and can't be sold to customer who haven't purchased
that computer. Secondly, the software has to preinstalled on the
computer as provided by Microsoft. Any alterations in the
configuration must be approved in writing by Microsoft. Until the
Antitrust ruling, the only way an OEM could sell a PC without
preinstalling Windows, was to sell it without a hard drive.
Ford never threatened to shut down the town paper if they carried ads
for Chevy. Microsoft on the other hand actually DID pull full page
ads featuring the Microsoft logo, including the ads of numerous
computer manufacturers and software vendors, when magazines like Byte
refused to stop giving positive coverage of Linux, Solaris, UnixWare,
The telephone company used to disconnect the telephone service of
anyone who tried to directly connect telephone modems to the telephone
network. Eventually this resulted in the break-up of AT&T, but for
almost 30 years, your options were to use an accustical coupler, which
limited your speed to 300 bits per second, or to purchase very
expensive "leased lines" and lease the modem from AT&T which gave you
the ability to communicate at 9600 or even 56,000 bits per second.
With start, stop, and parity bits, the 300 bps modem could be as slow
as 20 characters per second.
The Sholes keyboard was actually patented for it's ability to slow
down the typist. It's layout his one of the CAUSES of repetitive
stress injuries. In the 1890s, when it was first used, the gravity
fed keys would jam, and the arrangement made the typist slow down. As
typewriters improved, typing "Schools" taught students to "defeat" the
sholes keyboard through carefully orchestrated drills and extensive
practice. In 6 months, with daily practice for 2-3 hours/day, a
typist could eventually learn to type as fast as 80 words per minute.
The tuition to get to those typewriters was often very high, as much
as a month's wages at median income - the equivalent of about $4,000
in today's money.
In 1932, during the depression, August Dvorak saw the Sholes patent
and decided to create a typewriter that would be optimized to help the
typist type faster. He laid out the vowels on the "home row" of the
left hand "aoeui" then the most frequently used consonants on the
home row of the right hand "dhtns". Above that, he put the other
frequently used consonants "fgcrl". And the most frequently used
puntuation above the left hand home row "',.py". The least frequently
used consonants and punctuation were below the home row ";qjkx" on the
left and "bmwvz" on the right. The final keyboard looked something
He then offered the new typewriters to a local public school, and
taught some students to type on the new keyboard. Within a few days
they had mastered the keyboard, and within a few weeks they were
typing at 40 words per minute. During speed drills they were often
able to type as fast as 80 words per minute by the end of a semester.
A student could learn to type at professional speeds for less than a
week's pay - about $800 in today's money.
To the typing schools, this was not a good thing. They did everything
they could to stop the Dvorak keyboard from winning acceptance. They
refused to teach the new keyboard, telling students that the Sholes
keyboard was designed to be faster (in spite of notes on the original
patent). They threatened to boycott typewriter companies who made
Dvorak keyboard equipped typewriters, and tried to have Dvorak
keyboard typists banned from typing competitions (the worlds' record
of almost 200 words per minute is held by a Dvorak typist). They even
tried to have them banned from offices, claiming that the "machine
gun" bursts of keyboard activity was distracting to other typists.
This was somewhat valid, since the arrangement tended to turn normal
English words into almost a single motion of alternating left and
right hand actions, the right hand would be prepared for the next
consonant while the left hand was typing the vowel, and vice-versa..
IBM offered a Dvorak keyboard ball for their Selectric Typewriter, and
Apple offered a little switch on it's Apple II-C computer. Today,
Windows, Unix/X11, and Linux/X11 all give users the option of
selecting a Dvorak keyboard. Because Dvorak keyboard typists learn to
touch type, often using
the "map" below in a notepad window in the lower right hand of the
, they don't need to rearrange the actual keys. You only know they
have a Dvorak keyboard when you type a "k" on the keyboard and get a
"t" instead. As a result, 99.99% of all keyboards are sold as Sholes
or "Querty" keyboards, and no one has a clue how many of those
computers have been configured with Dvorak. I always found it ironic
that Microsoft was willing to market a special Ergonomic Keyboard for
almost 4 times the price of a "normal" keyboard, and yet they didn't
provide a Dvorak layout, but then again, it's so easy to learn that
most Dvorak typists didn't care.
Remember, Chrysler needed a "bail out" because they were convinced
that "people don't want small economy cars, they want big muscle
cars". The problem was that when the price of gas shot from 25 cents/
gallon to over a dollar per gallon, and the baby boomers were at that
age where they had to pay for their own gas, they couldn't afford a
$15 tank of gas at $1.25/hour wages. They would have to work for
almost 2 days to pay for one tank of gas that would last them 2 days.
When Honda introduced the Civic, it was almost a joke. Most American
car dealers joked that the Civic was a "four wheeled motorcycle".
There were many similarities to motorcycle engines. The VW Bug engine
was even air-cooled to reduce the size and fuel consumption. These
cars had gained popularity in countries were a full tank of gasoline
for an American car could cost a WEEKS pay. When the gas crisis hit,
baby boomers snapped up the economy cars as fast as they could get
them. Ford, GM, and Chrysler tried to get the government to set
quotas and restrictions and terriffs to keep the cheap cars out. By
the time the American car makers finally got in sync with the market,
AMC was gone, Chrysler needed a Bail-out, Ford was selling exploding
Pintos, and GM was simply rebranding cars built from Japanese parts as
Many of the innovations of the Asian car makers were actually
American. Fuel Injection, rotary engine, 4 valves per cylinder, turbo-
charging, and idiot proof automatic transmissions, were all invented
in the United States. Peter Demming tried to introduce quality
control to US car makers and was dismissed as a "crack-pot" - Auto
makers feared that if a car lasted 10-12 years, people woudn't buy as
many cars. When Demming approach Honda and Toyota, they loved his
ideas, and now American highways are dominated by Asian cars that run
for 10-15 years reliably.
The irony in each of the examples above, is that superior technology
entered the market almost undetected, was opposed by the dominant
players, and eventually became a pervasive option in the marketplace.
Linux is a similar "covert revolution".
Keep in mind that staying "under the radar" works well for Linux.
Because Microsoft is unwilling to post it's actual survey results and
market research information, courts in the US, Europe, Asia,
Australia, South America, and Africa have attempted to limit
Microsoft's control of the market, making it easier for vendors to
market "Linux Ready" systems.
Today Linux has impacted the market significantly. Open Source
Software, often originally developed FOR Unix and Linux, has become
pervasive in the marketplace. Look at the increase in Open Office
users and the increase in FireFox users and you begin to see that
these OSS projects are "outselling" Microsoft's products in a huge
Microsoft hopes to replace 100 million copies of Office 2000 and
Office XP with Office 2007. Open Office has picked up 300 million NEW
users in the last year. Microsoft hopes to replace 100 million
existing copies of IE 6 with IE7 this year. Last year, FireFox was
installed on the desktops of nearly 500 million NEW users. How many
copies of Cygwin have been installed? - not even Red Hat knows. How
many copies of VMWare Player have been installed? Even EMC doesn't
Counting Linux or OSS users is like trying to count the rats in the
sewer, or the cats in the alley. You might never actually see the
rats or the cats, because they would scurry out of site at the first
site of an intruder. What you can see is the droppings, furballs, and
other secondary evidence of their existence.
Microsoft is terrified at the prospect of Google getting double-
click. One of the reasons is that Double-Click is one of the few
companies that can actually count the droppings and figure out how
many of each kind of animal there are. When Microsoft can use it's
muscle to keep them quiet, the information doesn't become public.
When Google, a company that doesn't cave in to Microsoft pressure, has
access to that information, they might be willing to tell a story that
Microsoft doesn't want told.
Think about it. Even if Linux is only sold on 1% of the market, but
99 out of 100 Linux users install it themselves, that means that the
real percentage could a much bigger percentage of total market.
If you look at the water coming out of the sewer, at it's turning a
dark brown from all the rat droppings, you know that you probably need
to take some radical action.
We know there are over 100 Linux distributions, so there must be SOME
kind of market.
We know that Magazines containing Linux distributions are being sold
in Borders, Barnes and Noble, and B-Dalton every month. I can see how
many copies there are at the beginning of the month, and at the end of
the month. This would indicate that even 50 copies per store per
month isn't enough (since they are usually "sold out" by the middle of
Post by Gregory Shearman
Gentoo Linux - Penguin Power