"ID cards must be shown to get into the building no matter how bad the photo is." -- Security sign in the lobby of New York advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, as quoted in The New York Times Microsoft (MSFT) chairman Bill Gates marked the end of an era when he took the stage in New York on Oct. 25 and introduced Windows XP, the latest operating system. While its point-and-click features are whizzy, one thing is missing: MS-DOS, the engine of the PC since its 1981 debut.
DOS, at last, is dead. Gates marked the moment by typing the word "exit" for the last time on the once-familiar black screen. Back before Windows, people used to have to type arcane DOS commands--like, "copy memo.txt c:\memo" to copy a file. And, still present in earlier versions of Windows, DOS was blamed for frequent crashes--including the dreaded "blue screen of death." Few will mourn its passing.
Yet DOS created a phenomenon. Written by Tim Paterson at Seattle Computer in 1980, Microsoft bought it for a paltry $50,000. It sparked one of the greatest explosions of wealth in history. Today, Microsoft is valued at $341 billion; Gates's stock is worth $41 billion. "They should worship DOS," says Dwight Davis, an analyst for Summit Strategies who began tracking Microsoft in 1978. "It was the foundation for Microsoft's domination of an industry."
So what does Paterson think? "I have no regrets seeing it go," he says. "I'd rather point and click." Paterson later joined Microsoft, retired on his stock options, and now, for fun, designs robots for Comedy Central's BattleBots contests. No, his robot isn't named DOS. It's HexaDecimator. Airlines are hurting bad. Travel is still down by double-digit percentages, according to the latest Travel Business Roundtable survey released on Oct. 31. So airlines have launched a desperate plea to get people back in the air.
With fares not seen since the recession of the early '90s, every major carrier is on board. American has christened its sale, "The Great American Get-Together." Southwest (LUV) is selling $39 fares between California cities. Delta (DAL), with $31 one-way flights from Atlanta to 32 cities, has started partnerships with El Al Israel and with New York City. Continental and American are awarding double mileage. United is running long TV ads in attempts at reassurance.
The question is whether airlines can break even. "We're not making money at those kinds of fares," says Southwest's chief financial officer, Gary Kelly. "To have a business, we'll need fares to get back to normal levels." Yet, as transportation analyst Daniel Kasper at consultants LECG notes: "They may well be losing money, but it's the best they can do under the circumstances." With health scares everywhere, there's a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that shouldn't be taken lightly. It found death rates are 6% higher for many leading causes of death when patients enter hospitals on weekends.
Sparse staff with less experience is the most likely culprit, say the authors, who analyzed 3.8 million patient records at hospitals in Ontario from a 10-year period. "Not only are there fewer workers in a hospital on weekends, but also those that are on are less senior, and they're less supervised," says article co-author Dr. Chiam Bell, an internist at Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Science Center in Toronto. Plus, he adds, weekend staffers are often overburdened with tasks usually done by support staff.
While the American Hospital Assn. questions the relevance of a study done in Canada to U.S. facilities, Bell says the findings apply to any hospital with lighter weekend staffing--and that includes most of those in the U.S. and the Western world. His recommendation: "People who are sick shouldn't put things off until the weekend." However, getting sick on the weekend doesn't mean you should wait till Monday. Delay itself is a greater risk, he says. At least a half dozen CEOs have been ousted or have resigned since September 11. Here are the highest-profile, starting with the most recent departures:
JACQUES NASSER, Ford Motor
Poor financial performance; clash with homey Ford culture; failure to fix Firestone fiasco
PETER BONFIELD, British Telecom
Acquisition strategy burdened BT with $44 billion debt and split the company
LARS RAMQVIST, Ericsson
Presided over growing losses; missed the trend to low-end phones
JAMES GOODWIN, UAL
Massive losses; failed takeover of US Airways; concessions to pilots' union resulting in high costs
SHAILESH MEHTA, Providian
Large loan losses; paid $400 million to settle charges of imposing unnecessary fees September 11 was a turning point for the U.S. economy. But the terrorists also landed a body blow in Canadian towns whose prosperity has long hinged on easy cross-border travel.
Now, with tightened security and wait times at crossings unpredictable, cross-border workers are quitting their jobs, and stores and restaurants that counted on Americans taking advantage of the weak Canadian dollar are hurting badly. Border retail stores report sales down as much as 50%.
Windsor, Ont., just across from Detroit, "is dying on the vine," says Richard Blouse, president of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce. About 7.5 million day-trippers cross the Detroit River into Windsor each year, but traffic is now at half pre-attack levels. A crossing that used to take a few minutes now can take hours. "If things are going to bounce back, it's going to take a very long time," says a spokesman at the large Windsor Casino, which laid off 762 employees.
Already, border hassles have caused more than a dozen of the 1,600 Canadian nurses in Detroit-area hospitals to quit; Canada's nursing grads are eschewing U.S. job interviews, adding to the nursing shortage here.
There's pain on both sides of the border. Hawthorne Consulting, based in Vancouver, closed its office in Blaine, Wash., on Oct. 12 because Canadian employees were waiting up to two hours to cross. "We all agree with the new security measures, but we're just getting wiped out," says CEO Owen Anderson.
The Niagara region, too, finds business down 25%, says Carolyn Bones, president of Canada's Niagara Chamber of Commerce. "We've tended not to think about the fact that there is a border," she says. They're certainly thinking about it now. The job outlook may be dim, but hiring is booming for one specialty: security guards. Demand will jump 8% to 10% over the next few months, says Robert McCrie, professor at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
With 1.1 million guards nationwide in jobs that generally pay $8 to $12 an hour, that means 100,000 new slots--at least temporarily. Increased airport security could account for 28,000 of them.
At the moment, there are more jobs than seekers. "We could take on 5,000 more if we could find them," says a spokesman for security firm Wackenhut, which employs 25,000 guards nationwide.
But up to half the new jobs could turn out to be temporary. Once companies take a more comprehensive look at security needs, they will install surveillance cameras, reroute foot traffic, and consider identification systems that require less manpower to maintain, says Gary Schiff, head of security services at Kroll. For now, though, guards are a quick solution-- and one that will create jobs. Jack Welch, one of America's most visible chief executives, is now one of its most high-profile retirees. Since leaving General Electric on Sept. 7, Welch has become:
-- Adviser to J.P. Morgan Chase CEO William Harrison
-- "Special partner" at investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
-- Best-selling author (with John Byrne of BusinessWeek) of Jack: Straight from the Gut. Sales so far: Nearly 300,000
-- Emerging political pundit, holding forth on Manhattan, the recession, geopolitics, and, of course, the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to make GE pay $460 million to clean up the Hudson River.
So much for that golf handicap.