14 Classic Tech Rivalries

What's So Great About Your Local Bookstore?

My local bookstore is awesome. I love the library-like ambience, and occasionally I even buy something, especially if Christmas or someone's birthday is looming. Besides selling books, the store has an excellent selection of reading glasses and gourmet chocolates for immediate purchase (and gratification). The friendly staff members sometimes make great recommendations for reading that I would never think of. And I often discover interesting books by using my eyes as a kind of analog browser and the store shelves as a rudimentary site contents listing. Bonus: To go to my local bookstore, I have to leave my computer, if only for a few minutes. There are drawbacks, of course. Inevitably a local bookstore like mine has far fewer books to choose from than Amazon or a site like ABEBooks.com; and on top of that, I am obliged by societal mores to get dressed and brush my teeth before hopping into my carbon-spewing automobile to go shopping.

Intel vs. AMD

What's So Great About Intel?

Intel engineers created the first microprocessor, the 4004, in 1971. The rest (the part where Intel-powered PCs took over the world) is history. Amazingly, Intel's recent CPUs remain backward-compatible with software designed for the benchmark 80386 processor introduced in 1986. On the green side (ecologically speaking), the company's newer, smaller chips use silicon and other component materials more efficiently, require less power, and support dramatically faster speeds. And the company had the brilliant idea of branding its work: Remember the "Intel Inside" ad campaign, anyone? Competitors, including AMD, have tried to carve a little slice out of the Intel pie by reverse-engineering x86 processors of their own. So far, they're just playing catch up.

What's So Great About AMD?

For much of the early part of this century, Advanced Micro Devices enjoyed great success by producing processors that outperformed comparably priced Intel chips. Its earlier Athlon CPUs were performance champs, and they usually sold for less than comparable Intel products. But AMD stumbled when it tried to produce an immediate competitor to Intel's latest quadruple-core processors, and the company's purchase of graphics hardware maker ATI imposed a serious burden on its finances. AMD's plans to jump to 12-core processors by 2010 are interesting. And the prospect of success in an antitrust lawsuit alleging anticompetitive sales practices by Intel may be a source of optimism at AMD in 2008. Luckily, the company has some of the most loyal customers in the business. In any event, a serious competitor to Intel (especially one willing to go after it in court) is the surest way to guarantee better, less expensive products for consumers.

What's So Great About Bill Gates?

Courtesy of MicrosoftMicrosoft's success has earned Bill Gates $58 billion so far. Okay, so the prosecutor in the antitrust case United States vs. Microsoft would say that some of the business practices that generated that fortune were unethical, but business is business, right? This summer the former evil-software-empire chairman begins his new full-time job with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, giving a big chunk of that money away. Thanks to matching contributions from Bill's even richer card-playing buddy Warren Buffett, the foundation is currently endowed with nearly $40 billion, which it uses for such laudable activities as fostering global

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