DaveNet: Thursday, September 25, 1997; by Dave Winer.

blue ribbon Seybold 1989

From James Jewell, jjewell@i-2000.com, in reply to Winning At Seybold:

The last Seybold in which all three, Warnock, Gates and Jobs, were on stage was in 1989 at Moscone Center. At the time Apple and Microsoft were about to announce True Type fonts based on quadratic splines and surprise (coincidentally) John Warnock was poised to announce the opening of the specs for Type One fonts to counter this major league BS. This sets the stage.

Bill was on first. He droned on about how Windows was this wonderful and that better coupled with a computer mediated transparency "show and tell" which highlighted all of the "new" functionality of the GUI from Microsoft.

This was a Mac crowd which was able to contain its enthusiasm for the Wintel platform - but Bill seemed unfazed. (The only guy who was more oblivious at pandering was Efi Arrazi - a master when he was describing the Scitex dream System.) Anyway then Bill moved on into how True Type was going to revolutionize the world of electronic typesetting and of all the Wintel DTP vendors who had embraced the new font technology. Yawn. The crowd was falling asleep except for John Warnock who was visibly getting redder with each passing second.

Then it was over. Seybold introduces Warnock and he reviewed the benefits of Postscript, Type One fonts, and questioned the need for a confusing new font technology with unproven benefits and so on. And coincidentally, he was pleased to announce "wink" that Adobe management had decided that the specifications for Type One fonts would be published very soon, very soon indeed. This was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the standing room only crowd. Bill didn't bat an eye. I mean it was pure FUD by that time anyway. I think he was enjoying John squirm.

Then Seybold introduced Steve and you could have heard a pin drop. No reality distortion field in evidence. What he said was it didn't matter what Apple thought, or what Adobe thought, or what Microsoft thought. The only important player was IBM. What IBM thought was the only thought that was relevant. Remember those ubiquitious Thimk signs. Oops typo. ;>)

Coincidentally, at the time there was, as I remember, an announcement a few weeks earlier about IBM support for NeXT, NeXTStep and especially NeXT's adoption of Display Postscript as an imaging model. Funny how these coincidences seem to keep cropping up.

This was followed by a short talk by Nick Donofrio from IBM. He must have had fun stating that IBM did not, at that time, have its mind made up about which technology it was going to support so, for now, it would support both.

It was becoming clear as mud.

In retrospect, and with the benefit of history, what IBM thought did not amount to beans in this market segment, Steve and Bill and True Type were not all that relevant either. The market had embraced PostScript and Type One fonts and they are today still the most widely used font and page description technology.

For me the bottom line was that this was just another public display of giant egos and crass commercial interest attempting to manipulate a market for their own benefit. It had nothing to do with users or developers.

Unhappily, I expect that this Seybold will yield the same harvest.

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