Re: Bill Gates

The Low Golden Willow (
Sat, 4 Oct 1997 19:29:06 -0700 (PDT)

On Oct 4, 5:01pm, Geoff Smith wrote:
} On Sat, 4 Oct 1997, The Low Golden Willow wrote:

} > Adam Smith? Tom Paine? The inventor of the alphabet, if there was a
} > single one?
} The Latin alphabet, or just alphabets in general? If you mean the English
} alphabet, then there is more than one inventor, since it has mutated from
} the original Latin one.

Er, the Latin alphabet was pretty derived itself. Alphabetic systems
(allegedly unique in origin, unlike hieroglyphic systems or syllabries)
are traced back to the Semites. So I could mean an original Semitic

The uniqueness is in using phonemes as elements, rather than syllables or
words. The other two types of systems have been independently invented
multiple times; all true alphabets can be traced, in probable
inspiration if not in design, to the Semites. The original alphabet
didn't have any vowels in it, and recently I've wondered if from the
Semitic point of view it was functionally a syllabary. In which case
the true alphabet was actually invented by some Greek(s) who adopted the
Semitic symbols, realized that none of them coded for vowels, fixed
that, and thus accidentally created a phonemic alphabet whereas left to
their own devices they'd probably have created a syllabary.

Significance: English uses over a thousand different syllables, but 26
letters. We could use a few more, but still fewer than 50. Syllabaries
often have 50-75 symbols, meaning their language is restricted to that
many syllables.

Souce: Lancelot Hogben, _The Mother Tongue_.
Disclaimer: That's largely my only source; don't take this as expert

} > *cough*. Linux is very public. The source code is freely available and
} Sorry, I should have been more specific. I meant go public with shares.

I know that's what you meant. The concept still doesn't seem
applicable. There is no Linux company to go public.

} is huge, but Linux business sense appears to be lacking. (not that I have
} a problem with programmers programming for the sake of it. I just hope
} someone comes along and gives Microsoft some worthy opposition)

Worthy opposition? The product is free, powerful, locally modifiable,
and can be supported by whomever you want. Hard to beat that, unless you
want to run Excel. See below.

} > Java is being touted these days. If Microsoft ported Word and Excel to
} > Jave people at least wouldn't have to deal with Windows.
} I'm not sure what you mean by this. Java is not an OS, it's a programming
} language, a lot like C.

It's a programming language cum virtual machine, or else a programming
language with a much larger standard library (i.e. graphics and
networking); from either viewpoint "porting" applications is much
simpler. As you said, Microsoft's OS edge is the positive feedback of
having all the popular applications; standards can catalyze their own
growth. Java applications can run on any machine and OS which supports
the Java VM, or can be easily compiled for any machine with Java
libraries (for C you have to worry about local extensions, like
graphics) so your choice of OS/machines wouldn't be constrained by
available applications. You wouldn't need Windows to run Word or Excel
if they were ported to Java; you could run them anywhere which supported

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

"If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd
everytime, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side."
-- Orson Scott Card