15. Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction legend:
Quote type: Insightful epigram.
Circumstances of origin: In the 1973 edition of Clarke’s book Profiles of the Future, codified as Clarke’s Third Law.
Why it’s notable: Because it gives everybody who creates tech products such a lofty, worthwhile goal to shoot for. For all the remarkable technologies in our lives, how many of them are truly “sufficiently advanced” by Clarke’s measure?
14. Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft:
Quote type: Single-minded war chant.
Circumstances of origin: Ballmer did his thing at a developers’ conference in 2000, a few days after performing his equally unforgettable Monkey Boy dance at a celebration of Microsoft’s 25th anniversary.
Why it’s notable: Well, because it’s so damn strange (and perversely endearing), for one thing. You wanna look away, but you can’t. But it also neatly sums up a truth about Microsoft: Say what you will about the company, a meaningful chunk of the company’s success has always stemmed from the skill with which it caters to developers, developers, developers, developers….
13. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, although he says he never uttered these words:
Quote type: Apparently apocryphal boneheaded miscalculation.
Circumstances of its origin: Gates is usually said to have made the claim that the IBM PC’s 640K of RAM was sufficient at a 1981 microcomputer trade show, although reports of the now-famous lapse in foresight only seem to date back to the early 1990s. Gates, however steadfastly denies that he ever thought or said any such thing:
I’ve said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time.
Until someone comes up with evidence—any evidence at all–that Gates said it, I consider him innocent. Although, as this excellent blog post points out, Gates has twice said that he was surprised by how quickly 640K proved to be an inadequate amount 0f memory.
Why it’s notable: The quote may be fabricated, but it’s also referenced incessantly–sometimes to make points about tech, and sometimes just to mock Bill Gates. And even if it’s fictitious, it contains a greater truth–the computer industry is constantly misjudging the shelf lives of the technologies it sells us.
i12. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, to Pepsi CEO John Sculley:
Quote type: Edgy job interview question.
Circumstances of origin: Jobs posed the query to Sculley while attempting to convince him to leave Pepsi and join Apple as CEO. (The Apple founder came to regret the hire, of course: Sculley ultimately ousted him.)
Why it’s notable: Because it’s such a classic Steve Jobsism–brusque, inspiring, ambitious, pushy, and ultimately convincing.
11. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple:
Quote type: Kabuki-like catchphrase used by Jobs before final announcement–often a biggie–at Macword Expo keynotes and other product rollouts.
Circumstances of origin: I’m not sure when he started using it–I’d like to think that footage will surface of him unveiling, say, the Apple III as “one more thing”–but it was already an in-joke by the time of the 1998 event that introduced the first iMac.
Why it’s notable: It’s synonymous with Jobs’ peerless sense of showmanship. If there was ever a time when “One more thing” startled anyone, it ended long ago–the bigger surprise was when he didn’t use it before announcing the first iPhone in 2007. And his most recent use of the phrase at September’s music event prompted a surprisingly blasé response.