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[Fwd: Fwd: Ellison Quick On Feet As NC Demo Crashes And Burns 09/24/97]
- From: John Leong
- Date: Thu Sep 25 20:26:19 1997
This is off topic but the attached is so hilarious (probably not to the
poor soul responsible for setting up the demo!) .....
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- Distribution: cl-1,cl-2,cl-3,cl-edu,cl-4
It gets even better in the long version... I like the understated:
"Newsbytes notes historians may not view the episode as the NC's most
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From: [email protected] (NB / SFO)
Subject: Ellison Quick On Feet As NC Demo Crashes And Burns 09/24/97
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 1997 13:42:01 PDT
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, U.S.A., 1997 SEP 24 (NB) -- By Craig
Menefee. When Larry Ellison took the stage Tuesday at Oracle
OpenWorld 97, the Oracle Corp. [NASDAQ:ORCL] show in Los Angeles this
week, he made his customary case against desktop PCs. They're
complex, insecure, expensive, hard to maintain, and impossible to
standardize. But when Ellison took out a CD-ROM to demonstrate his
company's latest Network Computer (NC) setup, it seemed nothing would
go quite right.
Soon Ellison, Oracle's president and chief executive officer (CEO),
was murmuring things like, "It doesn't like that," and "Boy, I hope
this works" as the network resisted his every effort to tame it into
Eventually he told the crowd his problems were due to using "the
latest and coolest stuff," implying it had not been sufficiently
debugged before the show.
Newsbytes notes Ellison handled the cascading glitches on-stage with
unperturbed calm. Newsbytes was not present backstage or in Ellison's
Ellison wanted show how painlessly everything works on an NC network.
He started by hooking everything up from scratch -- keyboard,
monitor, server -- and anyone who has worked on today's networks
might appreciate the stunt. The CEO of a huge company sets up a
working network, live, on-stage, in minutes.
Then the crowd started to chuckle.
"What's the matter, did I wear the wrong tie?" asked Ellison. A
technician came up and told him the red wire goes to the red
"Oh, sorry about that," said Ellison as the crowd laughed and
applauded. "Look at this -- red to red. Any idiot could plug these
things in." He paused. "Everyone knew but me."
When done, he noted the server hookup had taken 12 minutes, mistakes
"We installed the network, with red to red," he noted. "You can kind
of think of it as a Crayola exercise."
Other components followed and when he plugged it in the NC went
looking for the server, which was not yet installed. "Server not
found," said the NC.
Ellison logged onto the Server using a smart card, activated it, and
the NC loaded Netscape from the network. It took him to order a
flower delivery, then to check prices of some stocks.
"Let's go to something interesting and check Oracle stock prices. See
how we're doing versus the competition."
At that point something else went wrong.
"This is really embarrassing," said Ellison. "I hate these things."
It seemed Informix stock prices were on-screen, not once, but twice.
"I guess I can go ahead and delete the old Informix," said Ellison.
"I'll leave the newest Informix in place for a little while longer."
The crowd chuckled.
Ellison then demonstrated network-based email by composing a note to
his mother using an HTML (hypertext markup language) editor. "We can
create e-mail notes, word processing documents, presentations, all
with the one, universal editor based on an industry standard --
HTML," boasted the CEO.
Then he tried to send her flowers.
"It shouldn't take this long," he finally snapped. "Someone talk to
me. Okay. Let me try it one more time." It still wouldn't work.
"It doesn't like this," complained Ellison. "Someone want to talk to
At that point he quipped: "Look at all those engineers, running out
that door. Stop that guy!"
Ellison decided to reboot the system: "Maybe we'll get lucky this
time," he said. "I'm obviously in desperate straits."
No joy on stage.
"We've been having network problems all day."
Finally he had an engineer "nuke server number two" to see if the
system would self-recover.
"It is a completely human-unassisted recovery," said Ellison, "and we
should get everything back. Oh boy, I hope this works. If not, I'm
It didn't. He didn't.
"I can't believe this," snapped Ellison.
"Okay," said Ellison, "let's go for three-for-three." The crowd
laughed and applauded as he went over to a TV-enabled computer
screen. "What we're going to do now is just sit down and watch TV."
Eventually he got through the demonstration, as the saying goes,
bloody but unbowed. Newsbytes notes historians may not view the
episode as the NC's most shining moment.
Newsbytes also notes that Zona Research published a market research
report Tuesday saying that only 15% of corporate information
technology managers plan to convert to NC systems in the next three
years. One main problem they cited was that, when a network goes
down, every NC on it goes down with it. This may not be what Ellison
had intended to demonstrate.
In his earlier talk, Ellison, who has banged the drum loudly for
years about the strengths of network-centric computing, said it was
ironical so many commentators have declared this an "information
"How can we have an information age when 70 percent of American
families don't even have a computer?" he demanded, adding: "Only two
percent of us on the planet Earth have computers. How did we get into
this state in the first place?"
He said the problem started when IBM introduced "the Microsoft PC" in
"It was a $300 billion mistake," he remarked. "Someday I'd love to be
able to make a $300 billion mistake."
He said the cost of the "mistake" has spiraled even as the cost of
PCs has dropped. He quoted Intel as setting the cost of ownership of
a standard PC at $8000 per machine per year, in standard corporate
"It's draining the budgets of the wealthiest corporations in the
world," he declared.
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