Last week at Comdex, the computer industry's biggest annual tribal gathering, Microsoft Corp. was BIG. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant spent $2 million on the Las Vegas blowout--about a day's profits for the company, and roughly what cofounder William Gates III makes while, say, flossing.
"Hacker" used to be a pretty good word before those of us in the media got hold of it. It was a badge of honor for hard-core programmers. As a different breed emerged-those who break into computer systems-the media adopted a kind of outlaw-geek chic, and "hacker" became a dirty word, raising the specter of some pimply teenager launching nuclear missiles or fiddling with your credit rating.
It isn't every day you get to play God. That is, unless you've just bought SimLife. Fire up this brand-new computer game and make a few friends -literally You start by selecting, say, camels from the games palette of animals, placing a bunch of them on an arid, computer-generated plain.
Robert Morgenthau puffs on a long Dunhill Montecruz, one of the two cigars he will allow himself today "to quiet my nerves." The Manhattan district attorney, who just turned 73, has issued a bundle of indictments in the case of now defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
Even after 20 years, the turning points of Watergate--the Saturday Night Massacre, the "smoking gun" tape--retain a chilling resonance. NEWSWEEK'S Evan Thomas, John Schwartz, Anne Underwood, Clara Bingham and Shirlee Hoffman asked some key players for their most vivid recollections from that discordant time.
It sounded too good to be true, and of course it was. The half-page ad in PC Computing magazine offered a high-end computer system worth more than $20,000, boasting every conceivable bell and whistle-a zippy Intel 80486 microprocessor, a large-capacity hard-disk drive, huge color screen and even a color laser printer-for an astonishing $1,278.43.
Just 10 years ago, Bill Hayden was selling computer parts out of the back of his battered orange Chevette, cutting deals with customers in parking lots. "We were pretty desperate for sales," he says. "Boy, times have changed since then." If you're wondering why blue-chip computermakers like IBM are struggling, look no further than the modest offices of Hayden's CompuAdd, where bare-bones operations and turn-on-a-dime agility produce inexpensive PCs.
Ever since IBM computerized the world, it has been the great American monolith--a company so big that the Justice Department once threatened to break it apart with an antitrust suit. (The Reagan administration dropped it in 1982.) But Big Blue has been looking a bit pallid lately.
Jason, a young man on the verge of adolescence, was touring Washington with his grandparents when he realized he had left his gym bag at the hotel. He got it back eventually, but it could have been a significant loss.