[SIGCIS-Members] Tom Watson and Seymour Cray quotes

Brian Randell Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk
Thu May 19 03:06:54 PDT 2011


I've been trying to trace the origins of the oft-repeated pair of

"Last week, Control Data ... announced the 6600 system. I understand
that in the laboratory developing the system there are only 34 people
including the janitor. Of these, 14 are engineers and 4 are
programmers... Contrasting this modest effort with our vast development
activities, I fail to understand why we have lost our industry
leadership position by letting someone else offer the world's most
powerful computer."
- Thomas J Watson Jr

"It seems like Mr. Watson has answered his own question." -- Seymour
Cray's response to Thomas Watson.

which I'd assumed were both apocryphal. In fact I find that Watson gives
the first quotation himself in his book "Father, Son and Co: My Life at
IBM and Beyond", saying that it was in a memo that he wrote to his "top
men" on August 28, 1963.

However, I've not been able to authenticate alleged Seymour Cray's
alleged response - which I fear is too good to be true.

Can anyone in fact validate it?


Brian Randell

School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
EMAIL = Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk   PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232  URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/brian.randell

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