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Scott McNealy co-founded the computer technology company Sun Microsystems, a fervent rival of Windows.
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At the age of 27, Scott McNealy co-founded the computer technology company Sun Microsystems during Silicon Valley's boom in the 1980s. He served as the company's CEO for 22 years, strongly promoting open computing systems like Java and with a sharp tongue, criticizing Bill Gates and Microsoft. In 1988, the company was doing $1 billion in annual sales. He stepped down in 2006.
Businessman, computer technology. Born on born November 13, 1954 in Indiana, this pugnacious Midwesterner who helped found Sun Microsystems at the tender age of 27 has cast himself in the role of defender of the free computing world. With his fierce promotion of the Java programming language, he launched a threat to the dominance of Windows and Intel in 1995, and continues to attack Microsoft and its chairman, Bill Gates, at every opportunity.
"In a world without fences, who needs Gates?" is one of McNealy's milder verbal thrusts at the Microsoft chief. Long a proponent of open computing over proprietary systems, Sun tried once before to set industry standards when it permitted cloning of the SPARC microprocessor and AT&T's UNIX operating system in 1987. That attempt failed, as IBM and Hewlett-Packard created their own proprietary high-powered server chips and versions of UNIX. It remains to be seen if McNealy will win this time.
McNealy grew up in the affluent Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where his father was the vice chairman of American Motor Corp. As a boy, McNealy explored his father's plant on weekends, and rummaged through his briefcase at night, perusing stacks of business papers. But young McNealy's advanced reading didn't spark academic ambitions. He was an average student who devoted most of his energy to sports, until he surprised everyone by scoring a perfect 800 on his SATs. He raised his academic sights and applied successfully to Harvard University.
McNealy graduated with a degree in economics, and hoped to follow in his father's footsteps, developing a career in manufacturing. He dreamed one day of owning his own machine shop, employing perhaps 100 people and passing the business to his children.
Instead, he ended up on the West Coast. After rejecting him twice, Stanford Business School accepted him in 1978, and he graduated in 1980. He worked a series of manufacturing jobs, in plants that made truck hoods, motorcycle saddle bags, and Army tanks. He intended to return to the Midwest, but a romantic interest - and great golf courses - kept him in the Bay Area. The romance fell through, but McNealy stayed.
In 1981, a former mentor from Harvard asked him to manage the manufacturing arm of his computer company. A year later, while McNealy was still learning computer basics, a business school friend asked him to take charge of the manufacturing for a new technology company, and together they founded Sun Microsystems in 1982. Two years later, the founding CEO left and McNealy was asked to take the job, temporarily, while the board searched for anew chief.
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