I’ve always admired the April Fools’ Day column as an art form. The best I’ve ever heard of is the April 1, 1919, cover of the British humor magazine Punch, which supposedly screamed: “Archduke Franz Ferdinand Found Alive! War Fought By Mistake!” (And if it didn’t really say that, well, April fool, it should have.)
I’ve also admired Billy Joel since he delivered a superb concert at my undergrad university, back before he got famous. You’ve probably heard his historical song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” which uses tiny snippets to narrate history from 1950 onward: “Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray ….” So for your amusement, I’ve rewritten that song to narrate the progression of our industry.
I offered to sing the song onstage at Build for only $5,000. Microsoft countered with $10,000 if I didn’t. So I’m getting my revenge by publishing it here. You will probably enjoy it most if you read it while listening to the original song (bit.ly/1fnHqf0). And if you’re crazy enough or masochistic enough to sing it in public, you can find an instrumental karaoke version at bit.ly/1k5RLhS. Go to it, my brave readers. As we geeks say, “a-01two, 10two, 11two, 100two …”
Alan Turing, Frederick Brooks, John von Neumann, Donald KnuthAda Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Three-finger saluteZ-80, first for me, Kernighan and Ritchie CApple and the Macintosh in 1984
Peter Norton, Byte magazine, “The Soul of a New Machine”PDP-8, IBM, 8-inch floppy CP/MBell Labs, Xerox PARC, Wang, Data General, DECCommodore! 64! I can’t take it anymore!
We didn’t start computingIt was always burning since a brain’s been churningWe won’t stop computingNo we won’t stop it, but we’ll try to top it
Bjarne Stroustrup, C++, Bill Gates, Windows, MicrosoftMinesweeper and Solitaire, Dummies tearing out their hairWorld-wide-Web, Tim Berners-Lee, CompuServe and ProdigyDave Cutler, NT, want to strangle Clippy
Amazon and Pets.com, Y2K doesn’t bombCircuit City, Googleplex, what the hell is ActiveX?COM OLE and DDE, Microsoft monopolyJanet Reno! DOJ! What else do I have to say?
We didn’t start computingIt was always burning since a brain’s been churningWe won’t stop computingNo we won’t stop it, but we’ll try to top it.
Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Oracle and EllisonCharles Petzold, Seymour Cray, Google Doodle every dayCamera phones, Nintendo Wii, Roomba Kindle BlackberryJeff Bezos, Craig’s list, Donald Norman, no more Borland
PageMaker, Acrobat, software legend David PlattDell, Gateway, Lenovo, Vista is no-goYouTube, Elon Musk, .NET Framework, Lotus NotesSteve Jobs, iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad
Dot-com bubble, Xbox, Google Chrome and FirefoxSteve Ballmer, David Pogue, Zynga Facebook ZuckerbergAlan Cooper, Clippy dead, GPS and JavaheadsJakob Nielsen, LinkedIn, Silverlight and PythonNetflix, Apple hype, PayPal Yahoo eBay SkypeXSD! USB! TLAs are BFD!
Angry Birds, Snapchat, Candy Crush and Black HatAzure Cloud, eHarmony, Surveymonkey WebMDUber Quber Chatroulette, Samsung Android BabelfishDeep Throat, Deep Blue, NSA is watching you,
Wikipedia, Instagram, Bing, IMDB and SpamTwitter Tumblr MSN, Ballmer out Nadella in,MOOCs, Nooks, Google Glass, Jobs and Ritchie bite the dust.Windows 8! What’s its fate? Will the next one be too late?
We didn’t start computingIt’s been always burning since a brains been churningBut when we are goneWill it still burn on and on and on and on and on?
David S. Platt teaches programming .NET at Harvard University Extension School and at companies all over the world. He’s the author of 11 programming books, including “Why Software Sucks” (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006) and “Introducing Microsoft .NET” (Microsoft Press, 2002). Microsoft named him a Software Legend in 2002. He wonders whether he should tape down two of his daughter’s fingers so she learns how to count in octal. You can contact him at rollthunder.com.
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