Phrase: more wood behind, all the wood behind one arrow

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 4 14:07:06 UTC 2011

I just read the phrase "more wood behind" and was unsure of its
meaning or history. I did not see any discussion in the archives. Here
is an excerpt of what I read:

Amazon Kindle Tablet Has 7-inch Screen, Custom Android
By: Clint Boulton
TechCrunch puts more wood behind the tablet craze, scoring
a one-hour hands-on with the slate to whet the public's appetite for
the next iPad challenger.

The meaning of the phrase above may be derived from another phrase
used by Scott McNealy the former head of Sun Microsystems. McNealy
probably said "all our wood behind one arrow" by the late 1980s. There
is a citation given below dated February 12, 1990. Also, a cite in
1991 discusses an April Fool's prank in 1990.

In July 20, 2011 an announcement from Google used the phrase "More
wood behind fewer arrows." So McNealy's trope was still in use twenty
years after he used while at Sun. However, the author of the eWeek
article above seems to be stretching the meaning.

WHO'S AHEAD IN THE COMPUTER WARS Look whose earnings are …
CNNMoney - Feb 12, 1990
Sun Microsystems, which didn't even exist a decade ago, is probably
the best-positioned workstation maker for the 1990s. It has a tightly
focused product line and is slowly phasing out older systems that
aren't fully compatible with its flagship SparcStation line of
workstations and file servers. Says CEO Scott McNealy: "We're getting
all our wood behind one arrow."

Sun's Workstations Still Shine, But Rivals Cloud The Outlook
Daily Gazette - Nov 10, 1991
Associated Press (Google News Archive)
Sun touts an "all the wood behind one arrow" slogan, meant to describe
a company focused on one goal - workstations. As an April Fool's joke
in 1990, Sun employees built a 60-foot-long arrow in McNealy's office
with the point going out the window.

Waterfall 2006
You go out deer hunting. ... Real men bring only one arrow. They know
how to aim (and they remember to take plenty of time when aiming), and
they put all the wood behind that one arrow.

Google Blog
More wood behind fewer arrows
7/20/2011 12:03:00 PM
Last week we explained that we’re prioritizing our product efforts. As
part of that process, we’ve decided to wind down Google Labs. While
we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in
Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the
most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead.

The American Dialect Society -

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