B: Research in this country is going down. Prior to World War II, the United States was rather poor in research; that’s why radar was invented in England and Germany. We learned the value of research in World War II. But today the quickest way to save your bottom line is to cut off research. In the automobile industry, for example, the average CEO’s tenure is just 4.7 years, so the money you spend on research won’t help while you are CEO. That’s why there is great pressure to do something that will sell now, but on a national basis this kind of ethic is very dangerous.
From a 2004 interview. One of the strange things about the computer business is how little innovation happens these days. This is, I think, related to the gross undervaluing of software in the market. One of the free software advocates once explained to me that you could make money on free software by establishing a “brand”. That’s a remarkable theory for an engineer to embrace and, I think, represents the victory of bankers and marketing experts.