Alpha Software | Adventures in Alpha Land - Episode 8

Show Notes

00:00 Dan: Intro to episode 8.

01:20 Adam: Start in computers.

02:00 Adam: Rebuilt Citibank’s retail systems.

02:57 Adam: Started looking at the Apple II in 1978 and then VisiCalc, but couldn’t convince Citibank to use Apple.

03:24 Adam: Left in 1982 to start Analytica and build Reflex.

04:24 Adam: Sold company to Borland, who sold 60x more product, partly by dropping the price greatly.

05:10 Adam: You have to make it possible to program in a spreadsheet, in this case Quartro for Borland.

06:21 Adam: Borland dropped the language in Quatro, I left, and was soon recruited by Microsoft to build Access.

06:29 Adam: Built Access as the product manager with a built-in use of programming.

09:06 Adam: I noticed in 1995 that many Access users were generating HTML for web sites.

09:55 Adam: Wrote internet Application Manifesto for Microsoft calling for what became Ajax.

10:51 Adam: Argued for a simple cross website information protocol for IE5. At the time it was XML, later it became JSON.

11:29 Adam: Added idea of Active Server Pages.

11:46 Adam: Focused on back-end of IE and built the DOM and Ajax.

13:34 Adam: Started building CSS.

14:35 Adam: We were ahead of our time. Javascript wasn’t fast enough then.

17:33 Adam: Our one requirement was that we had to be faster than Netscape.

18:03 Adam: We added XML as a data language, and we then had everything we needed for Ajax in early 1999.

20:16 Adam: I argued that this could be used for a web mail UI, but I lost at the time.

21:10 Adam: Later I moved to Google and ran Google Docs, and we were focused on this vision.

21:22 Adam: When the Office team and the Windows team realized what we were doing, there was a lot of yelling.

21:40 Adam: The IE5 team was disbanded and many of the key engineers followed me to Google.

22:59 Adam: We didn’t realize what we had with IE5 at the time, so we dropped a lot of the UI and Ajax functionality

26:42 Adam: This is all about Moore’s law. Things become practical because of the increased speed of computers.

27:30 Adam: In 1998 when we built XML I had to fight that passing data as text instead of binary was almost as fast.

28:51 Adam: The big lesson is that simple, easy to use text formats… The moment Moore’s Law makes it possible, they’ll happen.

30:01 Adam: I went off to do cloud computing, 2001 was not a good year to do this.

31:19 Adam: Mobile started to look like the new frontier.

31:57 Adam: We went to Google, but were enjoined from working on mobile. We had to work on Google Docs instead.

32:10 Adam: How it felt to see Google Maps and Google Mail for the first time.

32:48 Adam: Story about Quartro.

33:26 Adam: I also built calendars and the spreadsheet stuff at Google, and ran GMail, and Blogger. It was validating to see this stuff worked.

34:09 Adam: Tablets and smartphones

35:05 Adam: Model View Controller

35:24 Adam: With mobile, everything lives on the mobile device.

36:21 Adam: We changed as profoundly with mobile as we did with the web.

37:07 Adam: Forms on phones or tablets.

38:24 Adam: It’s not about productivity apps anymore, it’s about getting information at the right time.

39:03 Adam: With Reflex and since, its speed, speed, speed.

41:33 Adam: Data will just be on your phone.