Quote: 640K ought to be enough for anyone (attrib Bill Gates 1990 January 1)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 14 06:31:12 UTC 2010

640K ought to be enough for anyone.

This is a notorious quote attributed to Bill Gates. It refers to a
restriction on the amount of usable computer memory in early
generation IBM personal computers running Microsoft operating system
software. Although this is a famous quote I suspect it is becoming
increasingly unintelligible since 640K is a technical term, and few
speak of kilobits or kilobytes today.

Often the year 1981 is given for the quote. Gates has vociferously and
repeatedly denied saying the phrase.

The Yale Book of Quotations notes the appearance of the attribution in
a Usenet posting dated 1992 April 4 and in a publication called
Computer Language in 1993. Here is an InfoWorld cite in 1990 in an
article that presents a timeline of development for the personal
computer industry in the 1980s.

Cite: 1990 January 1, InfoWorld, "The Wonder Years: How the PC
Industry Grew Up in the '80s", Page 4, InfoWorld Publications, Inc.,
Menlo Park, California. (Google Books full view)

IBM introduces the PC and, with Microsoft, releases DOS ("640K ought
to be enough for anyone" — Bill Gates)


GB also has a amusing variant dated 1990 "Von Neumann thought 4K bytes
was enough for anyone." I haven't checked it.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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