Give Credit for the Mouse Where Credit Is Due
In "Xerox" (The Corporation, Apr. 12), you claim that Xerox Corp. created the mouse. That just ain't true. Douglas C. Engelbart (then of Stanford Research Institute, now known as SRI International) demonstrated the first mouse in 1968. I've had the pleasure of holding that first mouse. It's a clunky thing, about 3 inches wide, 4 inches deep, and 2.5 inches high. It's made of wood and has two wheels, one each for horizontal and vertical movement--no mouse balls here. On top is one little red push button.
The computer industry moves fast--very, very fast. But we should never forget to whom we owe our debts. Xerox Palo Alto Research Center rightfully deserves much of the credit for developing a full-fledged graphical user interface, but almost all of it was built on pieces created by Engelbart.
San Carlos, Calif.Return to top
Microsoft's Junk-Mail Filter
While I enjoyed "Neck and neck in the browser race" (Technology & You, Mar. 29), the author's characterization of the court's decision in our case against Microsoft Corp. was incorrect. The actual preliminary injunction, granted by Judge [Robert A.] Baines of the Santa Clara Superior Court, did not compel or even request that Microsoft unbundle its antispam filter from Outlook 5.0. Rather, the judge ordered that Microsoft "shall be enjoined and restrained from distributing, licensing and/or selling, directly, any product (including any and all types of software), including without limitation, any commercial, public, trial or beta versions of software that include cards or notification messages to the intended recipient's standard electronic mail in-box...." According to undisputed expert witnesses, Microsoft could have modified its E-mail filter to comply with this order (i.e., allow cards sent using our free service to get through) with just a few hours of work, and thus released their filter product.
As a recipient of much junk mail, I would welcome and use a functional junk-mail filter. The only reason I can think of that Microsoft might have pulled its own filter product (instead of simply allowing our cards through) is that the filter was injuring other companies in addition to Blue Mountain Arts Inc., and Microsoft feared resultant litigation. Why else would they choose to remove what they claim is such a potentially useful feature?
We applaud spam filters and firmly believe in the establishment of precedents that encourage their development in the free market. We did not seek nor win an "injunction barring the inclusion of the antispam filter." Withdrawing the product was a unilateral decision made by Microsoft that neither we nor the courts played a role in.
Jared P. Schutz
Blue Mountain Arts Inc.
Boulder, Colo.Return to top
Car Shopping on the Net: "Terrific"
It's about time that cars and pricing got demystified. And the Net is as good a place as any ("Old carmakers learn new tricks," Marketing, Apr. 12).
I just bought a GM Buy Power (BP) vehicle, a Chevy. It was a terrific experience. I tried Autobytel.com Inc. but couldn't get a written quote. Dodge and Chrysler offer a written quote. General Motors Corp. puts the vehicles and sticker online. The online Kelley Blue Book gave me invoice and manufacturer's suggested retail price for cars and options. Rebates and incentives were shown, too. Some great tools there.
Having contacted several GM BP dealers, I realize some are less committed than others. The local Pontiac place wouldn't even take the time to show me the cars I had picked out on the Internet. The Chevy dealer seemed to be with the program. Note, too, that GM got my business not simply because I am open to GM cars, nor only because of the GM BP program, nor just the great price. It was also because I have a GM-branded credit card that awards me "dollars" to use toward a purchase.
Although I was tempted by a Chrysler, my right brain wouldn't allow me to toss the couple of grand I had in GM card "earnings." Those dollars paid the sales tax, license, and two years' insurance. With extra weekend rebates the car was more than 20% under invoice. Here in Silicon Valley, it is not uncommon for dealers to add 15%. So I congratulate myself for 40% off "the local stick-it-to-yah" price. No one begrudges an honest profit. The business has no one to blame but itself if it has made customers dread the shopping experience and thus open to alternatives.
Stephen P. Huntington
San Jose, Calif.Return to top