On Bill Gates, Computers, Microsoft, Cars, and the Ford Motor Company

Some of you may know I write historical fiction. For modern writers, computers are the ultimate love/hate relationship. Not only do we write on the ‘puter and store our work on all of those frustrating peripherals, but (especially for historical fiction writers) the internet is an infinite source of research material – when it’s working. One of my critique group members (yes, via the internet, over at least three countries!) shared this little gem with us, and I just had to pass it on. I hope you enjoy.

At the recent COMDEX computer expo, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated:  “If Ford had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”

In response to Bill’s comments, Ford issued a press release stating:  “If Ford had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash…twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single ‘This Car Has Performed an Illegal Operation’ warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask ‘Are you sure?’ before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You’d have to press the ‘Start’ button to turn the engine off.

My group member added one more little tidbit: When all else fails, you could call ‘customer service’ in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!

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7 Responses to “On Bill Gates, Computers, Microsoft, Cars, and the Ford Motor Company”

  1. Donald Miller Says:

    Surprisingly, they left out my main complaint about Microsoft: that if the Ford motor company was like Microsoft — or at least adopted MS’s business practices — everyone would be driving a Ford.

    I particularly like this one: “For some reason you would simply accept this.”

    • Don Maker Says:

      Actually, Microsoft DID follow Ford’s example in trying to monopolize the market, often using violent tactics if he couldn’t buy out or bankrupt the competition. Even as late as 1978, Robert Kearns sued Ford Motor Co. for stealing his invention of intermittent windshield wipers, and was awarded millions by the court. Even worse, Ford used his millions to preach his gospel of anti-Semitism, inspiring Hitler, who awarded Ford the Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, the highest civilian honor the Third Reich had to offer.

      • Donald Miller Says:

        I’m sure you’re right on that, but I was thinking of the company when Ford himself ran it. Remember when Ford wanted to make the vehicle available to everyone, and some stockholders sued him? They don’t make ’em like that any more — shareholders and Wall Streeters yes. Guys like Ford were a rare breed.

      • Don Maker Says:

        In the general sense, I certainly agree with you. But you do know that, in wanting to make the automobile available to everyone, Ford also inspired Hitler? During several visits to Germany, they had many conversations on this subject. It was Hitler who organized the founding of a company that would make the availability of autos cheap for every good German, thus founding the “transport of the people”, better known to us as “Volkswagen”. I’m sorry, you sound like an admirer of Ford the industrialist, but as a humanist I’m very much not.

      • Donald Miller Says:

        Sorry, but I don’t get the connection. That seems a lot like blaming Charles Darwin for the Holocaust or Rousseau for the French Revolution.

      • Don Maker Says:

        As to Rousseau, he was only indirectly responsible for the French Revolution in that he wrote tracts that inspired the revolutionaries in their thoughts of liberty and equality. I don’t get your connection to Darwin at all. What I said about Ford, Hitler, and cars, is very much known information, not at all subject to question. Please read up on Ford’s connection to Hitler and the German reich.

      • Donald Miller Says:


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