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5/15/2004
10:35 PM
John Soat
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IT Confidential: The Long, Strange Trip And Its Veterans

John Ashcroft says Majoras would be a 'superb' FTC chairman.

What a long, strange trip it's been. Last week, the Massachusetts Software Council marked the 25th anniversary of the electronic spreadsheet, honoring Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, the developers of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet software product. The launch of VisiCalc in 1979 for the Apple II turned the PC from a hobbyist's toy into a business tool. "VisiCalc helped shape the PC industry and contributed to the rise of entrepreneurialism and economic expansion in the late 20th century," said Paul Egerman, chairman of the council, at the event.

While we're waxing nostalgic, the Association for Computing Machinery and the IEEE Computer Society will present the Eckert-Mauchly Award to Frederick Brooks Jr. next month at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture in Munich. Brooks is being honored for his work on the IBM System/360 family of computers, which introduced the concept of a unified computer architecture. The award carries a $5,000 prize and was named for John Eckert and John Mauchly, who in 1947 collaborated on the design of the first large-scale computing machine, Eniac, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer.

John Guevara's great migration north has taken a slight detour. The Cuban-born, Miami-raised Guevara was CIO of auto-component manufacturer Delphi Mexico's operations--he lived in El Paso, Texas, and worked in Delphi headquarters in Juarez, Mexico--when he was tapped last September for bigger things at Delphi's headquarters in Troy, Mich. Guevara never did make the trek to Troy, and, last week, he said he quit Delphi to decide among three new opportunities, at least one of which involves a sunnier clime.

Pinnacle Systems, a digital-production products vendor, last week disclosed a shake-up that brings in Justin Yaros as its new CIO. Yaros most recently was senior VP and CIO at Sony Pictures Entertainment; before that, he was senior VP and CIO at 20th Century Fox.

Timothy "Do Not Call" Muris unexpectedly resigned last week as head of the Federal Trade Commission, and to replace him, President Bush has nominated Deborah Majoras, who as deputy assistant attorney general helped negotiate the controversial antitrust settlement with Microsoft last year. Majoras still has to be confirmed by the Senate. In a statement, assistant attorney general Hewitt Pate said, "It would be an honor to work with Debbie once again to enforce our nation's antitrust laws."

Lawyers involved in Microsoft antitrust litigation are like a group of battle-hardened veterans, a fraternity (or sorority), a secret society. Do they have lunches, picnics, annual dinners? Do they have a high sign or a secret handshake? If you know, share or send me an industry tip to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to wax nostalgic, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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