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Bill Gates Gives $20M to CMU for New Building 919

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-must-reboot-before-taking-this-class dept.
touretzky writes "Carnegie Mellon University announced on Tuesday that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had donated $20 million toward the cost of a new building to be called the "Gates Center for Computer Science". Some faculty have suggested that in acknowledgment of Mr. Gates' profound influence on the computer software industry, the building should be painted bright blue."
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Bill Gates Gives $20M to CMU for New Building

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  • Microsoft at CMU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by generic-man (33649) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:27PM (#10262675) Homepage Journal
    Funny thing about Carnegie Mellon -- there's a lot of people there who spell Microsoft with a dollar sign and refer to it as the "evil empire," yet every Microsoft presentation is standing-room only. There are plenty of people there that actually respect Microsoft as a company, and of course President Jared Cohon was more than happy to accept a $20 million gift.

    Now the Gates Center is a $50+ million project. If you want to name the building in your honor instead, you could always kick in the rest of the dough.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:27PM (#10262678)
    By the time he's dead, there will be so many buildings with his name on them, he'll be everywhere, like all the towns with Carnegie libraries today. And like Carnegie, he'll be remembered fondly for all the stuff he did that still endures, and not for the things Slashdot likes to bash him for today.

    Like it or not...
  • Beatch Please! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by cdtoad (14065) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:28PM (#10262684) Homepage
    $20Million to CMU? Please Bill... Couldn't you have done something a bit more charitable? Like the students at CMU need a new building? How bout helping out the children of Cleveland Ohio of whom 53% are living in poverty. Half the school buildings here would be condemed if it weren't for the fact that 87 of the 100 building inspectors were laid off last year. And who do we have to thank? Queen Jane. But thanks Bill, thanks for giving unNeedy spoilded rich kids a chance.
  • by I_Love_Pocky! (751171) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:29PM (#10262696)
    I'm always afraid of huge corporate donations to CS departments, because they tend to want to push the program in a certain direction. I don't think it helps anyone to have a Microsoft centric CS education, because CS shouldn't be about practical implementations, but rather theoretical concepts. I hope CMU isn't tainted by this donation.

    I'm not just getting down on Microsoft either, I would feel wary about any large software company. On the other hand, it is a very nice thing for Mr. Gates to do. I'm always impressed by the really great things he and his wife choose to do with all of that money.
  • by Mskpath3 (764785) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:30PM (#10262700)
    Some interesting info on the far reaching economic impacts Gates would have if he spent truly large amounts of his fortune [fee.org]

    Gates is to be commended for this. He's no slouch when it comes to spreading the wealth around.

  • Re:Blue (Score:2, Interesting)

    by generic-man (33649) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:30PM (#10262701) Homepage Journal
    Carnegie Mellon already has one blue building. It's called Donner Hall [cmu.edu] (large JPEG) and it'd be a nice joke if CMU were to name it after Gates instead. It's the residence hall where they stuff hundreds of freshmen every year.
  • by reporter (666905) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:37PM (#10262751) Homepage
    About 10 years ago, Stanford University completed construction of its new computer science building. You can see a picture of it [stanford.edu]. Several companies and individuals donated money to its construction. The majority of the funds came from a group of Japanese companies. Interestingly, among individuals, Bill Gates donated the largest percentage, and Stanford University named the entire building after him.

    When news of "Gates" becoming the apellation of the building broke, heated discussions appeared on the local university electronic bulletin board. Many people were dismayed that Bill Gates, a college dropout with little knowledge of computer science, would receive the honor of having the computer science building named after him. It is no ordinary building. It is the building housing the pre-eminent computer-science department that is among the top 3 in the nation.

    One mathematics professor lamented that money buys anything -- including undeserved honors. He commented that Stanford University might as well name the building after "Donald Trump" since he is a billionaire.

    Personally, I object to honoring Bill Gates for anything. As far as I am concerned, he is an unethical shmuck who bears principal responsibility for the suicide of Gary Kildall. Search on "Gary Kildall" [yahoo.com] if you do not know who he is.

  • "thank you, bill gates, for donating money to an a academic instution"

    the preceding is an antidote to the typical lowest common denominator slashdot bs

    you may now go back to your usual tired stale jokes and rants
  • Re:Poor Bill (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:38PM (#10262765) Homepage Journal
    Also, there is
    Established in 1988, the CERT® Coordination Center (CERT/CC) is a center of Internet security expertise, located at the Software Engineering Institute, a federally funded research and development center operated by Carnegie Mellon University.
    Now, if 20,000 large doesn't freshen your breath to CERT, dunno what will.
    If you don't like the news, buy the press.
    Maybe these were distortion-free dollars, or something...
  • Re:Beatch Please! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aeroz3 (306042) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:47PM (#10262829)
    You've got to be kidding me? I'm not spoiled. I'm not rich by any means, I am at CMU because I work my ASS off.
    I made a conscious decision in my life to work hard and stay in school because I knew what it meant for my future. So who is it that really DESERVES it more? Is it the people who are the best and the brightest and have worked their asses off to show it; the ones who will be changing the world? Or is it another 15 year old mother of 2 who thought her baby-daddy jamal had a better future as a crack dealer than he could have if he stayed in school. I love the concept that if you are capable, you should be shat upon. I hope that someday, YOU, cdtoad get to live in a world where everything is designed by this lowest common denominator you love so much. Cars? Nope. Computers, of course not! Light bulbs??? Hell no. These folks are not the ones who are driving society and innovation. I'll stick with beleiving in hard work, wise decisions, and innovation personally.
  • Re:Poor Bill (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tftp (111690) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:47PM (#10262830) Homepage
    A thief steals your car and then offers you one free ride. Should you be grateful or angry?
  • by oskard (715652) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:48PM (#10262840)
    "giving away money effectively is almost as hard as earning it the first place."
    -Bill Gates

    Great quote, interesting article, not sure if I agree with it entirely, but the quote gives a cool perspective.

    By the way the Bill & Melinda Society [gatesfoundation.org] (or whatever) do a lot for charities, students, colleges, and NPO's.
  • Re:Cheapskate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by captnitro (160231) * on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:48PM (#10262844)
    The donation was made by one Sidney Frank [cnn.com], whose importation [sidneyfrankco.com] popularization of drinks we were fond of in college (and still are) made him lots of cash.

    It's a good day to be a college dropout, apparently.

    It makes me a little proud to think that you can still work hard and with a little luck have your name on a building, regardless of things like educational status or initial wealth. This applies more to Sidney, I suppose, than Bill. (Now, the fact that it was a half-stolen, poorly written OS and liquor sales to college kids is quite another thing, and I'm sure everybody's going to remember that in replies to this post. Have fun!)
  • by linefeed0 (550967) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @11:53PM (#10262879)
    CMU has put out a never-ending stream of disgusting propaganda since last February when Gates gave a "lecture" [post-gazette.com] at CMU. If you don't care to RTFM, CMU's "alumni magazine" (even more of a blatant PR mill than at most schools) spends an entire article bragging about how wonderful it is for CMU to have tons of incestuous connections with Microsoft. (The message: come to CMU and work for Microsoft!)

    CMU may have quite a few good individual professors and research projects in CS, but the institution as a whole doesn't think twice about being a corporate-flak career school... from their advertising slogan "The Professional Choice" in the early '80s on (when CMU accepted a certain large donation from IBM and almost decided to make all its students buy PC's in 1982).

    Thankfully, many CMU students are still practicing some degree of creative resistance [notdot.net], although a penguin statue allegedly placed on the roof of the student center overnight before the Gates speech was hurriedly removed since apparently CMU values its clean public image more than its students' creativity [mit.edu].

    One other thing to note is that this is likely not much more than a matching grant for further increases in students' tuition [jpdavin.com], which pays for a much higher share of an education at CMU than at many peer schools.

  • Re:Blue (Score:2, Interesting)

    by freakmn (712872) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:00AM (#10262929) Journal
    Blue is a homonym of blew, which is the past tense of blows, which describes his software, of course! That and the BSOD, the default background color, the ocean near Washington, Washington state on some maps, and of course Bills scorching case of blue balls. (I made that last one up...)
  • Times have changed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TequilaJunction (713856) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:08AM (#10262984)
    When I went to CMU (back in the days before the WWW) the new technology on campus was by by Apple. Our computer clusters (which were called Apple Orchards - sigh) were about 50% Apple, 20% Unix, and 30% Microsoft. There was a big NeXT following in the very early days as well. I guess we're not going to see a push for alternative OS's there in the near future. As a side note, one more new building on that campus isn't going to make much of a difference. It's looked wrong ever since they tore down Skibo.
  • Screw You Mr.Gates (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tron21 (753055) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:22AM (#10263087)
    I am a student at CMU, we knew about this yesterday. They announced it by handing out fliers with a drawing of the new building on it. Well it turns out that the building and the Society of Automotive Engineers http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/org/sae/ [cmu.edu] garage seem to occupy the same space. Hum, I wonder what is going to happen to our garage. Dear Mr.Gates, do you think you could spare an extra $30,000 to help build something other then more computer clusters on our campus?
  • by symbolic (11752) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:23AM (#10263089)

    I say PR. If it were an act of generosity, Gates would have encouraged them to come up with a more creative name. Nothing like the ego of someone with too much money, too much power, or just a delusional state of having either.
  • Oh come ON! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by freedom_india (780002) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:26AM (#10263108) Homepage Journal
    Why can't you guys take it in good spirit???

    The Gates Foundation is administered by Belinda Gates. Bill.G does NOT have any voice over what she does.
    The Belinda gates Foundation has started many, many projects for AIDS in africa and India, projects which have nothihng to do with capturing market share, or Windows (tm). Hundreds of lives have been saved, thousands have benefitted through his fundings of their education, etc.

    Although it may be hard to digest for you Bill.G haters, his ruthlesness is only in his business and does NOT extent to real world. Show me one another who has donated and build so much for so many people WITHOUT crowing around !!!

    Do NOT judge a person for what he is, but judge him what he does.
    Dumbasses.

  • by ortcutt (711694) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:30AM (#10263136)
    It's about time that CMU got a Gates building. Stanford has had one for a while. It doesn't seem that the name is having any inappropriate effect on the students, faculty or administration here, though. The CS curriculum only has one Windows programming course (an elective) and most of the computers in the labs are either Macs or Suns. Even many of the staff use Macs here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:35AM (#10263166)
    Funny you mention "digital divide" when Gates himself does not believe in it. [nwsource.com]
  • by recursiv (324497) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:37AM (#10263180) Homepage Journal
    Textbook FUD.

    It does show a BSOD. It does also have a countdown to reboot. I've seen it. It's definitely not fast enough that someone would miss it or blame it on glitchy power. (at least 30 seconds)

    The fact that no one else seems to have seen this is evidence that WinXP is indeed more stable than Win9x. In my experience this is unquestionably true. In my experience Win9x crashing was a regular occurrence. The only time WinXP has rebooted is when I've rebooted it or there was a power outage. (yes, a real one with clocks losing their time too)

    The only BSOD I have seen from WinXP is my room mate's laptop trying to go into power saving mode.
  • by ArsSineArtificio (150115) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:37AM (#10263183) Homepage
    One mathematics professor lamented that money buys anything -- including undeserved honors. He commented that Stanford University might as well name the building after "Donald Trump" since he is a billionaire.

    All of Stanford University itself is named after a railroad robber baron.

  • Re:And of course... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by register_ax (695577) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:43AM (#10263215) Journal
    lol, morals are human-defined so there is always a "right" and "wrong" and they will always have to be disputed.

    It is unintelligent to not critique an action that will prove directly beneficial to the person partaking in the act. It should be recognized that this industry is the same industry he is in. That is what debate/discussion is, looking at various points of view. Of course slashdot has a slant and to be honest, that's why I come here. I got a lot of the pop perspective from those other moving pieces of matter I happen to bump into in that thing called RealLife. If that comment wasn't made, or yours, I wouldn't be coming here. I like the perspective, not that it's right or wrong mind you. Thanks for your comment.
  • Re:BSOD jokes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 5i (112354) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @12:54AM (#10263262)
    nope! wrong again.

    I spent 12 straight hours on saturday trying to help my brother with his XP machine.

    He wanted to use it to play games, had spent a bunch of cash on good hardware, etc... and had spent the last 3 months enlisting help from various skilled support-type geek friends to try and stop it crashing.

    It crashed, on average, about every 3 minutes. And not in one game, but in any of a whole bunch. And we're talking yes, full wipe out to BSOD and/or reboot.

    Ok, so bad vid drivers the most likely reason, sure (although any one of a dozen error code didn't help pinpoint it. And no, not memory, we full memtested it, stick by stick, removed hardware ad nauseum).

    Eventually, we put Win2k on it. An hour or so later he was up and running for a good 24 hour session, no crashes at all. .. and don't get me started about my ex's XP laptop that regularly blue screens during movie playing.

    me, I won't touch it with a bargepole, not until SP3 at least.
  • by atrizzah (532135) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @01:00AM (#10263287)
    I've never read anything to suggest that Gary Kildall committed suicide at all. Look him up in the all knowing Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
  • by ArcticCelt (660351) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @01:04AM (#10263304)
    In any case, as long as you have a shiny nice new building on Bill's dime, who gives a crap what it is called?

    In Montreal one of our finest Commerce Universities (HEC), when they built a complete new campus they decided to sponsor each classroom and put the name of the sponsor on the front door of each classroom. Its ok when your finance classroom is named after a bank, but one classroom was named after a chicken fast-food chain and their was a little bit less of glamour in the name of that class. :)

    Anyway they had an insanely great new campus for less money and who cares about the names?

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @01:21AM (#10263378) Journal
    I can't help but wonder what CMU's KGB organization [cmukgb.org] will do when this building goes up. Basically, KGB is an on-campus group which engages in all sorts of random silliness, and describes itself as "an eccentric bunch of nerds, geeks, freaks, visionaries, outcasts and ne'er-do-wells, who plan on being on the right side of the guns when the Revolution comes."

    When Bill Gates came to visit campus earlier this year, the group painted the Fence [cmukgb.org] (a frequently painted object in the middle of campus) bright blue in his honor. Also, during the Q&A session of the talk, KGB's president Ed asked the following:

    (transcribed from rough memory)
    Ed: Hello Bill. Have you ever used Linux?
    Bill: Yeah, a few times.
    Ed: Would you accept my gift of Linux? [holds up Linux CD]
    (chuckles and applause from audience)
    Bill: What's it worth? (grins)
    (more chuckles and applause from audience)
    Bill: Sure.
    (Ed gives Bill Linux CD)
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @02:55AM (#10263697)
    I actually like his new haircut [cmu.edu]. Now if only he would finally notice that he can't beat OSS and therefore join the bandwagon, so that I need not talk my mouth fuzzy with convincing my customers to use Linux I'd be cool with the man.
  • by Sage Gaspar (688563) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @03:04AM (#10263716)
    I don't know if this is necessarily a deceptive move or not (I think it might have been just to keep people from going crazy when "fatal error" or something popped up), but I can confirm that my OEM XP CD as of last month and a Win 2000 version from last year or so both came with a "Reboot upon system error" option checked.

    Removing it involved delving into the registry in 2000, but there's a simple checkbox in XP.

    Either way, it was a royal pain the first time I discovered this "feature" when my Win2K box got a virus and began crashing on boot to windows, thus ending up in an infinite reboot cycle with no real way of understanding what was happening. It took me a while just to get it to stop rebooting, and THEN I had to repair the virus.
  • by ajkst1 (630286) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @04:39AM (#10263985)
    I don't think this donation will change the culture towards Microsoft at CMU at all. As has already been mentioned, there are a TON of CMU grads that work at Microsoft. CMU grads know Microsoft wants them and many of them do go to work for them. Avie Tevanian [apple.com], CTO for Apple, is a CMU grad and has done great things with them. CMU is a Linux and open source hotbed. "The Microsoft Way" is the last thing many of them want to learn. This [apple.com] [apple.com, QTVR required] is an example of why CMU isn't going to all of sudden jump to "The Microsoft Way." They have a significant interest in UNIX and Apple, and that's been there since 1983.

    I went to Carnegie Mellon 2 years ago for a seminar on integrating OS X into a college campus. I got to take a tour of the lab pictured in the link and imagined the 120 PCs and CRT monitors in there and it wasn't a pretty sight. The 15" iMacs they replaced them with are much nicer in terms of size and flow in the room, especially when the room is full. It's a nice donation by Bill, so don't take it as his way of converting CMU to Microsoft. Of all the schools in the world, CMU would probably be one of the last to go.
  • by tezza (539307) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @04:51AM (#10264020)
    In Cambridge they have a William H Gates Building [cam.ac.uk].

    I have a mate doing his PhD in Comp. Sci up there, and he says a lot of the staff in there are militant Linux advocates. They relish the irony.

  • by leonmergen (807379) * <lmergen AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @06:05AM (#10264179) Homepage
    IMHO, the whole progress after the first version of Windows wasn't innovation, but a logical route. "Hey, i've got a graphical user interface - let's make it prettier" and that's basically all that Microsoft has contibuted.

    Nothing against Microsoft and all, but Gates hasn't contributed as much as Kindall by far.

  • by TheCage (309525) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @06:31AM (#10264227)
    Actually, Stanford is named after Leland Stanford Jr., who died of typhoid. The university was meant as a rememberence to him. A better story about the elder Leland Stanford's career and naming is the student body's attempt to have the school be the "Robber barrons"
  • by flacco (324089) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @06:31AM (#10264229)
    While I admire Bill Gates for his charitable work, I don't think he himself has contributed much to the field of computer science.

    i think you're a bit off on the charitable work part. consider the timing of the charitable work in relation to the anti-trust trial. you'll see that it coincides quite closely with the other get-our-political-act-together moves microsoft made at that time.

  • Re:huh?! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Simon (815) <simon@simo n z o n e . com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @06:51AM (#10264279) Homepage
    to think Lotus and Wordperfect drove the success is misguided at best. As the parent poster suggested it was MSDOS and its ease of use and simple design that allowed programs like Lotus and wordperfect to work

    :-) MSDOS didn't have any "ease of use". Programs like Lotus and WordPerfect were loaded into memory by MSDOS after which point they received little support from MSDOS as an operating system, especially in comparision to the OSes at the time such as AmigaOS and the Mac. "simple design"!? MSDOS was/is a mess.

    As for PCs as a gaming platform. The PC was always seen and marketed as the "serious business computer" in the 80s. DOS games were absolute crap in comparision to the competion then. It wasn't until the early 90s that the PC started to emerge as the primary home gaming platform.

    --
    Simon

  • by LaCosaNostradamus (630659) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @07:02AM (#10264312) Journal
    All good info, but -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- people with enough money (to afford the setup and maintenance fees) like to use things like "foundations" to handle all their subsequent finances in order to avoid taxation. The donations are the price to be paid to have such a significant tax shelter (i.e. they have to give some money away in order for the foundation to justify existing as a charity).

    With a foundation, Bill and Melinda can take in income or capital gains, and pay essentially no tax on them -- making a mockery of the tax system imposed on the middle class. Those two people may have charitable urges like most folks do, and a foundation certainly would be helpful if only for a logo and a "non-personal" checking account, but the untold hundreds of millions in tax breaks are the real reasons that they paid some accounting firm to setup their foundation.

    If you're curious about how extreme tax breaks are getting, go read David Cay Johnston's new book "Perfectly Legal".
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @07:47AM (#10264471) Journal
    Microsoft recruits like mad at CMU (esp. for Microsoft Research) because it's a good computer science school, not because they have special ties.

    It's very true that the university administration (not the School of Computer Science administration) is big on having buddies at large businesses, at having ins in the defense world, stuff like that, to help suck in grant money.

    However, the School of Computer Science is quite different. SCS is very critical of Microsoft. I don't think there is a single SCS course taught on Windows or using any Microsoft products (there are a few taught using Mathematica, but generally one uses either Solaris or GNU tools, and not even proprietary products). I remember one CMU philosophy course (a Humanities and Social Science class, not even SCS) where the professor handed out a document in .DOC format and the next day came in, apologized to everyone due to all the complaints, and asked whether we'd prefer PDF, PS, RTF, etc instead. You could theoretically get by using Microsoft Office, I guess, but there's quite a bit of pressure to use LaTeX in SCS. My databases class focused on Postgres, because you could recode parts of the scheduler (unlike, say, MS SQL), which was important for teaching DBMS internal theory. I remember when one SCS professor, Gregory Kesden (damn cool guy, BTW), asked some Microsoft guy to come give a lecture on the .NET framework in a university lecture hall, and got absolutely chewed out by the SCS administration for doing so, who viewed this as promoting a Microsoft product.

    If CMU has ties to any company, it's Apple. Apple's OS X kernel was written at CMU, CMU uses a ton of Macs -- probably about as many Windows machines, down from a majority of Macs at one point, and Apple people come to speak more often than Microsoft people.

    CMU maintains their own Linux distribution (Andrew Linux) and develops and has developed a phenomenal amount of open source software, including major packages. CMU's done a lot of the OSS SNMP code out there, AFS is from CMU, festival (the OSS speech synth package) is from Alan Black at CMU, Coda is from CMU, and so forth.

    CMU has an absolutely ridiculous degree of interaction with Slashdot just because of all the *IX geeks at CMU. I attended CMU's SCS and knew a single Windows guy -- did work on Windows, liked Windows, etc. Not common.

    I agree that the SCS people probably won't like having a building on campus called the Bill Gates building -- Bill Gates is not particularly well-known for advancing the field of computer science, and a number of people feel that he's tended to hold it back in the name of profit. The university people, though, who are responsible for finding offices and lecture rooms for the SCS people, are probably thrilled.

    Of all the major CS universities that I visited when deciding on a university, CMU was the *only* done that didn't rattle off a list of "the places that you can get a job" or push their job-placement services. The assumption was that you were coming because you liked/were interested in research, not because you wanted job placement. That was a major turn-on for me.

    Point is, CMU isn't likely to be much of an MS school any time soon.
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @08:04AM (#10264529) Journal
    Gates and Allen coded the original Ticketmaster ticket reservation system, IIRC. Microsoft did up some productivity apps that later became Office -- if Gates was still involved in actual development then, he can take some credit.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:47AM (#10265388) Homepage Journal
    How much more is Gates going to be remembered as the great success story who gave his money for the good of others? Any blemishes on his character will be easily waved away as jealous competitors, not anyone with a serious grief.

    I think I speak for quite a few people when I say that I really don't care, as long as the computers a generation from now aren't locked into end-to-end Microsoft products. Business historians remember Carnegie and Rockefeller as robber barons; they'll remember Gates as a robber baron too, and that's good enough for me. While it's a bit sad that Microsoft made the bulk of the money from the PC revolution while doing almost none of the innovation, as a computer enthusiast I just want their crappy software to be gone (or at least non-monopoly) by the time my kids are in college.
  • by rnd() (118781) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:57AM (#10265533) Homepage
    The parent is 100% accuate. Bill Gates has employed more of the top computer scientists than anyone else in the history of the world, and such employment is one of the main reasons that college kids want to major in computer science.
  • Re:Poor Bill (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stonecypher (118140) * <stonecypher.gmail@com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @05:28PM (#10271391) Homepage Journal
    CERT is basically government-funded. The reason they're at the university is that almost all government-funded big computing stuff is at either a university or a shady secret building with no windows. The SEI is one of three government installations at CMU, alongside the supercomputing center and the Mellon Institute (the last of which is also industry funded; yay Westinghouse.)

    CMU gets a $20m contribution every year. Nobody in the university is particularly impressed. Certainly not CERT, who have dealt with enough of Microsoft's issues to know better. They're no less jaded than you are.

    Gates isn't trying to impress the university. He's trying to impress the undergraduates. If this means that two out of every hundred undergrads are now pro-microsoft, given CMU's success rate, he's just made a good investment moneywise. That's why MS and Borland give their toolchains to universities, why Apple pushes its platform but why clonemakers don't: they're all pushing their particular interface, because the academia drives novelty, and novelty owns this market. We stick to what we're used to and when looking for new we default to what we've heard of. Gates is buying familiarity, and given the experience I've had with doe-eyed freshmen, it's working.

    That said, he's also a hell of a real philanthropist. Not all of the money he gives away has an ulterior motive. Even if you go through my particular views on what he's given away as dirty or not-dirty, and only count the not-dirty stuff, he's still the single largest philanthropist in history, donating hugely to agrarian and immunological concerns.

    He may be a scumbag businessman, but he's turning a lot of that money to organized capital-g Good efforts which were otherwise going ignored.

    We tend to forget that Carnegie was so hard to his workers that he built apartment buildings where the apartments had corridors between rooms that were half-height and offset upwards, so that apartments could be stacked more efficiently; it is arguable that much of Carnegie's success came from skill in screwing his workers (he basically invented both the company shop and company housing unless you count the Egyptian pharoahs; he's basically the reason for the move to unions, yellow dog laws and the Homestead riots.)

    Why do we forget? Because, in his old age feeling guilty, Carnegie tried to give it all away. (He was so rich that he wasn't able to spend his fortune in his dying decade; he got about 80% of it out the door, and had to give the rest away as trusts.) He established the world's largest library chain, including modern governmental library systems (yes, there are more Carnegie libraries than US libraries.) He established many of the US' great cultural centers, including one so focal to American stage culture for fifty years that even now, another fifty years later his name brings to mind the same joke in all of our heads (Practice!) He established one of the world's great museums as part of one of the world's few nongovernmental museum chains, which maintains what are largely considered three of the world's great art collections today (you go to the Louvre for renaissance painting; you go to MOMA for experimental painting; you go to Garnegie for contemporary and modern art.) One of the world's great travelling art exhibitions is named for him and maintained by one of his trusts. Many of the nation's great parks are maintained by his money. Many of the world's great mansions belonged to him, his family or his friends. He gave huge trusts silently to dozens of what are still our great universities to promote industry and technology. One of our great universities was built on his money (Mellon pulled out at the last second, when it was too late to remove his name. Carnegie was a great man. Mellon was a scumbag.)

    I hate to say it, especially here where he's so hated, but in fifty years when his business tactics are forgotten and nobody's heard of Stac Electronics or Gary Kildall or OS/2, largely because of his phila

"If John Madden steps outside on February 2, looks down, and doesn't see his feet, we'll have 6 more weeks of Pro football." -- Chuck Newcombe

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