Across seven years of Microsoft’s Surface experiment in designing and selling hardware, the company still hasn’t found a breakout hit product. It now offers more products than ever—six major product lines, compared to the two it started with at the end of 2012. Yet its revenues have barely budged across the last decade. This quarter, Surface sales fell 4 percent over the year-ago quarter.
Maybe its pervasiveness has long obscured its origins. But Unix, the operating system that in one derivative or another powers nearly all smartphones sold worldwide, was born 50 years ago from the failure of an ambitious project that involved titans like Bell Labs, GE, and MIT. Largely the brainchild of a few programmers at Bell Labs, the unlikely story of Unix begins with a meeting on the top floor of an otherwise unremarkable annex at the sprawling Bell Labs complex in Murray Hill, New Jersey.
My father worked on an engineering team that designed the housing that held the components for the guidance computer onboard Apollo 11.
Just this morning, I read an article looking back on the 50 years since man first landed on the moon. I read the story on my iPhone, which delivers 100,000 times the processing power of the computer that got Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the lunar surface.
“35 years ago, Macintosh said hello. It changed the way we think about computers and went on to change the world. We love the Mac, and today we’re proud that more people than ever are using it to follow their passions and create the future …”
Apple first teased the machine two days earlier in a Super Bowl commercial, 1984. Directed by Ridley Scott, it was aired exactly once on national television – which was enough. It was so dramatic that TV news channels featured it, giving it millions of dollars of free airtime.