One person's thoughts may change the world
Jesse Jackson, Miles Davis, and Bill Gates. An unlikely combination. I’m the first one on the planet to combine them, to see their mystical and supernatural connection. It even sounds kinda cool, Jackson, Davis, and Gates, like a title of a law firm. Almost a spiritual revelation, and I, me, “Thinkofone”, the only one in our solar system, the Milky Way, The local group, and the Virgo Cluster knows what it is. You had to put on your astronomy hat for that one, touche Neil Degrasse Tyson!
If you’re not well informed, Jesse Jackson is a civil rights leader out of Chicago who runs the Operation Push organization. Miles Davis, is well Miles Davis. Trumpeter, band leader, composer, the coolest Mickey Ficky on the planet, and then some. Bill Gates? well he’s Bill Gates. Co-founder and former chairman of Microsoft. Multi-billionare Bill Gates. Now, this all started with a proclamation, something that touched my soul, something that revealed a revelation that has been brewing in me for years, yet, has not been able to boil to the surface, until now. I put them in their particular order for a reason of my revelation.
Jesse Jackson made a recent commentary about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. ( “Shhhhhhh, it’s gotten very quiet in the room”). In fact, he’s leading a delegation to the Hewlett Packard annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday to bring attention to Silicon Valley’s poor record of including blacks and Latinos in hiring, board appointments and start up funding. Now you might say, hmmm, doesn’t he have enough on his hands, why is he going out there to those wiz kids, propeller heads, smart rich people claiming they don’t want to hire any black folks! Well Reverend Jackson, you should have talked to me first.
Yes, that’s right me. Oh, you think I’m playin’. You think I’m trying to be funny. Well let me tell you something about a computer my dear friends. Well, actually let me tell you a little something about Bill Gates. Bill Gates went to Harvard for one year. Yes ladies, one freakin’ year. Lil Wayne even wrote and sang a rap tune called Bill Gates, or as he says in his rap tune, “use to be a baller but now I’m Bill Gatin'”. OK, anyway, Bill left Harvard after his revelation of creating or writing software, along with his older buddy and friend, Paul Allen. Paul is worth 15 Billion by the way, 53 richest on the planet, and a Washington State University drop out. In fact, Paul convinced Bill to drop out of Harvard and get into programming, to make… lots of money. Heck, Paul even came up with the name Micro-soft. Paul and Bill were making a BASIC language interpreter. Now to show off my computer skills, an interpreter is not even a full compiler. CBASIC was king back then, a full four pass compiler, created by Digital Research. Do you know why I know that? It’s because I was using it to write software back in the mid 80’s with it.
But before I even continue that, this leads me to Miles Davis. Now you’re going to say “thinkofone”, what does Miles Davis have to do with this? Everything. Miles grew up in east St. Louis, son of a Dentist, started playing the trumpet at 13. In 1944, the Billy Eckstine band visited East St. Louis Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were members of the band, and Davis was brought in on third trumpet for a couple of weeks because the regular player, Buddy Anderson, was out sick. Even after this experience, once Eckstine’s band left town, Davis’ parents were still keen for him to continue formal academic studies.
Well, Miles Davis convinced his parents that he wanted to study at Julliard school of music in New York. He went to school during the day, and played with the local jazz musicians at night. After one year, he quit Julliard. Sound familiar? It better. The shape, span, and breadth of jazz would not have been the same without that critical event happening. Miles Davis did not create jazz, but he changed it several times. Hard bop, modal jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion all have Miles to thank for creating for taking it to another level, long before Bill Gates ever decide to go to Harvard, quite, purchase QDOS from Tim Patterson who reverse engineered it from CP/M which was developed by Digital Research who were the same Mickey Ficky’s who wrote the four pass compiler. Bill and Paul “licensed” their new operating system who sold it along with their legendary IBM PC which netted Bill and Paul millions and eventually billions. Lil Wayne should write a song about Paul Allen too….
Now, I’m not saying you should drop out of school after your first year to fulfill your dreams. But there was a certain pedigree about them. They both attended the best school for their craft. They both had an influence before they even reached college. They both went on a leap of faith. Miles did it before Bill or Paul did. They were the best at their craft and never looked back.
Which now leads me Jesse Jackson and what he wants out of Silicon Valley. I’ve been working in the computer “industry” for over 30 years now, was in it in it’s microcomputer infancy in the 80’s. Watched Bill Gates very closely back then. Had my Jazz awakening back then as well. Started my own company while still in school called Compu-Term. Get it? Micro-Soft/ Compu-Term. It was short for Computer Terminal. I had an idea to rent out computer time to mainframe compilers for a cost back in the day. Good idea, but I soon figured out the real money was in writing software. Created my first program called “The Newsroom Management system”. Was a complete newsroom management system. I use to work at a local TV station and when I left, I remembered what my manager once said, “If someone can combine all news activities in one application, they’d make a killing”. So I did it. wrote the whole freakin’ thing while working at another company. But I had issues. I wore too many hats. Had to keep the lights on in the office, so my partner and I were selling software, network services, etc… I even wrote Ray Noorda and asked him to donate Netware to my company so I could test it over a network and sell it as a package to news stations.
My second big flaw, I was a bit head, not a marketing person. I went about marketing the software the wrong way. I should have sold to the parent company to the news stations instead of trying to sell it to the station themselves. So I should have got audience with Post Newsweek for stations affiliated with NBC. Third biggest flaw, I needed money, and I had no idea what a venture capitalist was back then. Getting money to purchase the equipment to test and develop the software properly would have gone a long way. Compaq, the computer company, started out on a napkin between four engineers. They got seed money and off they went.
Fourth biggest flaw was I should have hired a white guy to sell. No matter how hard we tried, my business partner and I at the time where not going to convince the minds of managers that my product could have helped their newsroom run better… Not two young black guys.
The point I’m trying to make about Jesse Jackson is, the minority footprint in the software field is small. When I was younger, I was a code head who was always trying to learn a new computer language, buying compilers and writing code almost all of the time. C, C++, Modula-2 Pascal, Delphi, Java, etc. I’m not seeing that kinda passion from the black kids I see, even the ones who really are into computers. The East Indians and Chinese produce five times as many computer scientists and engineers as the United States does. They dominate the industry and in some ways, are a little prejudice about it. East Indians come from a classic cast system, and you may think it doesn’t exist, but it does in many way, not outwardly but they seem to apply it to minorities in this country. They and the Chinese are somewhat xenophobic, tending to spend time only around those similar to themselves.
Typically many black people tend to come from humble backgrounds ( single parent homes, low income, poor school systems, proper nutrition, etc ), so there is a less likelihood they they can get comparable education, let alone exposure to engineering, computer science, etc… So Revered Jackson, well I commend your attempt to level the playing field, it’s hard to level it when you don’t have a full team or many players to show up to compete. The answer is…. Start in your own back yard first. Chicago has a large base of black people, mostly located on the south side of the city. A war zone. Gangs. Drugs. Poor schools, etc… Start with a plan to get that working and then you can address the silicon valley issue. I agree, perhaps they can donate software and hardware to assist in that effort to change the system. I’m not a school administrator but if there was a method to get kids grades up in those challenged communities and expose them to the STEM method, and finally funnel them to HBCU’s, that would produce the students google, HP, Microsoft, and others are looking for. The HBCU’s already provides you the infrastructure you need to develop more engineers and programmers.
I agree, Microsoft could do better by recruiting and promoting more black people, similar to their new Chairman, John Thompson. John was cultivated at none other than, IBM. He was president and CEO of Symantec for ten years. John went to an HBCU, Florida A&M. He went on to MIT’s Sloan school of Management. John is the MFM. 25 years ago, my best friend and I said, “More black students should go into computer science. They could dominate the industry and influence what kinds of software and hardware could be produced”. 25 years later, the East Indians and Chinese dominate the workplace in that space….
Jesse, go to Silicon Valley, to cultivate business for black companies, but don’t scold the for being successful. More importantly, have them adopt schools, starting in your own city, Chicago. Bill Gates offers the Millennium scholarship, but in order to get it, you have to be exposed to STEM, and have a high GPA. So expose them to STEM programs so they can have the opportunity to apply for schools HBCU schools, to get them ready for the ever changing software and hardware industry…. And… Ask them to partner with some of the HBCU’s!!!!!
Miles and Bill were exposed early…. How do we get those kids in urban areas exposed the right way….?