Say what? A look back at McNealy zingers

The list of "McNealy-isms" is legendary within the tech industry. Here's a sampling of his jabs.
Written by Charles Cooper, Contributor on
Say what you like about Scott McNealy, but one adjective you'll never find attached to his name is shy. The Sun Microsystems co-founder has reveled in running his mouth, and the list of "McNealy-isms" has become legendary within the tech industry. The following includes highlights from two decades' worth of his witticisms:

• "Probably the most dangerous and powerful industrialist of our age." (Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates)

• "Ballmer and Butt-Head." (Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Gates)

• "A giant hair ball." (Microsoft's Windows and Windows NT)

• "When Steve Ballmer calls me wacko, I consider that a compliment."

• "General and motors." (Microsoft and Intel)

• "Windows More Errors" (Windows ME)

• "Look Out" (Microsoft's Outlook)

• "The Corvair of Web servers, unsafe at any speed" (Internet Information Server)

• "Captive Directory" (Active Directory)

• ".Not," ".Not Yet" and ".Nut" (Microsoft's .Net development strategy)

• "The beast from Redmond" and "the evil empire." (Microsoft and its headquarters.)

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• "Only a monopolist could study a business and ruin it by giving away products."

• "With Microsoft, the first hit is always free--remember that all your life."

• "Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system. I guess I would be nervous if my system was built on their technology, too."

• "We've got bayonets fixed, and we'll go into any cave no matter how dark and dank it is. And in the air war (against Microsoft to win new developers), we'll go after any developer and not just let them turn over to the dark side."

• "Having Microsoft give us advice on open standards is like W.C. Fields giving moral advice to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."

• "The only thing I'd rather own than Windows is English, because then I could charge you $249 for the right to speak it, and I could charge you an upgrade fee when I add new letters."

• "I've always argued the best way to keep your teenager off drugs is buy him a Pentium Pro, give him NT and Microsoft Office and a printer, and tell him you get $500 if you can print something out of PowerPoint on that printer. That will take him six months of drug-free activity. I think that's probably the best thing you could possibly do for your teenager."

• We should "shut down some of the bullshit the government is spending money on and use it to buy all the Microsoft stock. Then put all their intellectual property in the public domain. Free Windows for everyone! Then we could just bronze Gates, turn him into a statue, and stick him in front of the Commerce Department."

• "Listen, I have never turned down a meeting with Gates or Ballmer...On many occasions, I've challenged them to get onstage one-on-one and have a reasonable debate, but they've always refused. And that's because they don't even flirt with telling the truth anymore. And if I were protecting a monopoly like they are, I wouldn't do it, either. Because they know the real truth."

• "The visual I see is a slow-motion collision of two garbage trucks--and they are just about to meet bumpers." (On the prospects for the Hewlett-Packard and Compaq merger.)

• "If I could embed a locator chip in my child right now, I know I would do that. Some people call that Big Brother; I call it being a father."

• "Technology has the shelf life of a banana."

• "Open source is free like a puppy is free."

• "People say, 'Tape is kind of boring.' Well, I say go in and tell your customer that you have lost their back-up tapes and you'll see excitement pretty quickly."

• "You already have zero privacy--get over it."

• "So I think the opportunity with Java versus 'CaptiveX,' as everybody calls it, is either you want to be captive to the Microsoft arena or you want to have something that runs on everything."

• "Is there a McNealy's law? Yeah, that's 'eat lunch or be lunch.' Or if you're in academia, 'do lunch, or be lunch.'

• "I enjoy my wife enough to now have four children."

Compiled from CNET News.com archives, BusinessWeek, Thinkexist.com and the books "Bad Boy Ballmer" and "High Noon."

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