April 24, 2006 4:48 PM PDT

Say what? A look back at McNealy zingers

Say what you like about Scott McNealy, but one adjective you'll never find attached to his name is shy. The Sun Microsystems co-founder has reveled in running his mouth, and the list of "McNealy-isms" has become legendary within the tech industry. The following includes highlights from two decades' worth of his witticisms:

• "Probably the most dangerous and powerful industrialist of our age." (Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates)

• "Ballmer and Butt-Head." (Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Gates)

• "A giant hair ball." (Microsoft's Windows and Windows NT)

• "When Steve Ballmer calls me wacko, I consider that a compliment."

• "General and motors." (Microsoft and Intel)

• "Windows More Errors" (Windows ME)

• "Look Out" (Microsoft's Outlook)

• "The Corvair of Web servers, unsafe at any speed" (Internet Information Server)

• "Captive Directory" (Active Directory)

• ".Not," ".Not Yet" and ".Nut" (Microsoft's .Net development strategy)

• "The beast from Redmond" and "the evil empire." (Microsoft and its headquarters.)

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• "Only a monopolist could study a business and ruin it by giving away products."

• "With Microsoft, the first hit is always free--remember that all your life."

• "Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system. I guess I would be nervous if my system was built on their technology, too."

• "We've got bayonets fixed, and we'll go into any cave no matter how dark and dank it is. And in the air war (against Microsoft to win new developers), we'll go after any developer and not just let them turn over to the dark side."

• "Having Microsoft give us advice on open standards is like W.C. Fields giving moral advice to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."

• "The only thing I'd rather own than Windows is English, because then I could charge you $249 for the right to speak it, and I could charge you an upgrade fee when I add new letters."

• "I've always argued the best way to keep your teenager off drugs is buy him a Pentium Pro, give him NT and Microsoft Office and a printer, and tell him you get $500 if you can print something out of PowerPoint on that printer. That will take him six months of drug-free activity. I think that's probably the best thing you could possibly do for your teenager."

• We should "shut down some of the bullshit the government is spending money on and use it to buy all the Microsoft stock. Then put all their intellectual property in the public domain. Free Windows for everyone! Then we could just bronze Gates, turn him into a statue, and stick him in front of the Commerce Department."

• "Listen, I have never turned down a meeting with Gates or Ballmer...On many occasions, I've challenged them to get onstage one-on-one and have a reasonable debate, but they've always refused. And that's because they don't even flirt with telling the truth anymore. And if I were protecting a monopoly like they are, I wouldn't do it, either. Because they know the real truth."

• "The visual I see is a slow-motion collision of two garbage trucks--and they are just about to meet bumpers." (On the prospects for the Hewlett-Packard and Compaq merger.)

• "If I could embed a locator chip in my child right now, I know I would do that. Some people call that Big Brother; I call it being a father."

• "Technology has the shelf life of a banana."

• "Open source is free like a puppy is free."

• "People say, 'Tape is kind of boring.' Well, I say go in and tell your customer that you have lost their back-up tapes and you'll see excitement pretty quickly."

• "You already have zero privacy--get over it."

• "So I think the opportunity with Java versus 'CaptiveX,' as everybody calls it, is either you want to be captive to the Microsoft arena or you want to have something that runs on everything."

• "Is there a McNealy's law? Yeah, that's 'eat lunch or be lunch.' Or if you're in academia, 'do lunch, or be lunch.'

• "I enjoy my wife enough to now have four children."

Compiled from CNET News.com archives, BusinessWeek, Thinkexist.com and the books "Bad Boy Ballmer" and "High Noon."

See more CNET content tagged:
Scott McNealy, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Sun Microsystems Inc., Microsoft Corp.

4 comments

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My favorite McNealyism: The Itanium is "The Itanic"
We'll miss him.
Posted by scottmcgrath (3 comments )
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That was easily the most amusing article I've read in some time.
That was easily the most amusing article I've read in some time.
Posted by TurboTad (2 comments )
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A Legend of his own Kind
Good write-up.

Scott McNealy is probably one of the few men in this world whom has consistently, constantly and successfully badgered Microsoft throughout the ages and still had his company in one piece to tell about it afterwards.

Three Cheers and Hats off to this brave man for having the balls to do what many others should have done, but were too afraid to do.

Sun's Java is still the best thing around and Sun's Operating System is a zillion times better than anything Microsoft could ever come out with.

I'm sure Scott will be missed at Sun Microsystems, but he'll continue to be a legend of his time no matter what he does from here on in.

I actually met Scott once while he was in Japan and got to speak with him for about 30 minutes. He really knows his business and his rivals business in-depth.

Again... three Cheers and Hats off to a job well done over the past decades!

We need more people like Scott McNealy to boldly stand up and speak against Microsoft!

Walt
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
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Scott McNeally and Sun
I worked at Sun for 11 years. And had the opportunity to see to Scott, Ed Zander and the rest in the early years. He was great. Sun was a great company. I loved every minute of it until I left. We gave it our all. Heady days.
Sun was Scott and Scott was Sun.
However, Circa 1999, they lost their way. Too much bravado and making ego errors.

Those days are gone and we have the new guy making a $1M salary. Scot never had a salary that big. $1m for what. Their stock is in the tank. They need to pay for performance and if they don't perform they should not make that kind of money. The once great Sun.
Sad very sad.

In closing, You missed a fav Scott quote about COMPAQ...
"big hats no cattle". He had a wonderful wit. He and Zander made a dynamic team.
Posted by heartzincali (1 comment )
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