Doomed tech companies

This is disappointing news. Via Nicholas Carr, it looks like Silicon Graphics’ time is up as they apply for bankruptcy.

SGI’s heyday was really before I knew anything about them. The last time I read anything about them (lucky I’ve still got the link lying around!) was an eWeek article talking the history of the company and some cool stuff they (still) do. Well worth reading.

My comment to myself at the time was: But hang on, some of that doesn’t sound right at all? I mean, Pringles? What’s a computer graphics computer doing investigating how Pringles fall into their containers? That’s clearly more of an engineering job…

Seriously, though, some of those things they were allowed to tell us they were doing sounded seriously cool. Oh well. Here’s Cringely on SGI in 1997. And here he is again on Apple, same era, with the quote “Jobs would be thrilled to kill SGI outright”. Why throw in that remark? Well, I’ve seen numerous throw-away references over the years that Apple should buy SGI. I don’t know any of the technical details, but it sounds like it would be exciting.

There’s a bit of an obsession with Cringely today. SGI isn’t the only tech company that’s fallen under hard times (or has been for years).

I, Cringely, ‘Killer Apps’: “Sun is simply doomed. Their software isn’t better, their hardware isn’t better, and they can’t see themselves as anything but a maker of hardware or software, so my simple recommendation is that they take the rest of their cash and try entering a hot new field like – say – space flight. Or making really fine cakes. The world will always need fine baked goods. Or just give it back to the shareholders. Really.”

I don’t mind reading Cringley’s column. It’s well written, and he raises interesting (albeit far-fetched) points. But this is just impolite. Jonathan Schwartz does a pretty good job of instilling enthusiasm into his company.

Besides, doesn’t “give it back to the shareholders” sound like a solution to a troubled tech company that we’ve heard before?