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

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 16 05:43:15 UTC 2010

Thank you for such high praise Fred. The results of your broader
search are fantastic; outstanding work on the often difficult task of
matching and filtering alternative phrasings.

Gates is not the richest man in the world nowadays, but the interest
in this quote is still high. Many people are entertained by "feet of
clay" style quotations.

Appreciate your comment Joel. I also worked on some software systems
with tight memory limitations, but never that tight for a full OS.
Babbage probably said 1000 gears and latches ought to be enough for

On Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 7:05 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Quote: 640K ought to be enough for anyone (attrib Bill Gates
>              1990 January 1)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Garson continues his brilliant string of discoveries on quotation origins by pushing back this extremely important quote.  His posting below inspired me to go back into Nexis to do a broader search than I have done in the past on the Gates 640K quote.  Here is the still earlier evidence I found:
> Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates once said 640K of memory was more than anyone needed.  He was wrong.
> InfoWorld, Nov. 14, 1988, article by George Morrow beginning on page 59
> InfoWorld, which seems to have been the key vector of the quote, also has a very interesting earlier version:
> When we set the upper limit of PC-DOS at 640K, we thought nobody would ever need that much memory.  -- William Gates, chairman of Microsoft
> InfoWorld, Apr. 29, 1985, editorial by James E. Fawcette beginning on page 5
> The 1985 version seems to be more of a matter-of-fact statement of the early thinking about memory, rather than the more dogmatic-sounding assertion ("ought to be enough for anyone") that became famous.
> Fred Shapiro
> Editor
> YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)

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