Larry Ellison relives reveals network computer netbook dream

Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1995...


Larry Ellison has once again demonstrated how he always gets what he wants in the end, by floating the possibility that Oracle could get into the stripped down client PC business.

OK, it looks like he's latching onto the latest greatest thing - telling the JavaOne conference that now Oracle is swallowing Sun, he could well imagine the market welcoming Java-powered netbooks.

In fact, he ventured, "I don't see why some of those devices shouldn't come from Sun. Here will be computers that are based on Java and JavaFX and devices based on Java and JavaFX, not only from Google but also from Sun."

But this will all bring tears of nostalgia to the eyes of anyone who remembers the ground-breaking launch of the network computer, back in 1995.

Back then, when it looked like Wintel was going to dominate the world forever, Ellison and his plucky sidekicks - Scott McNealy and some guy from IBM - took to the stage at Comdex to propose a line of cheap, diskless PCs that would take full advantage of the network or even something called the internet.

Sun's Java would take care of things at the client end, IBM threw in the client hardware expertise and Oracle would do the heavy lifting when it came to software.

By the early part of this decade... not very much had happened. We did meet someone at a party once who worked at Larry's Network Computer division, but they were about to move to a shack in the woods in New Hampshire, as the business was wound down to nothing more than an entry in Oracle's register of trademarks.

Larry, on the other hand, has stayed in Silicon Valley, and is in the process of buying Sun, a Java shop with a hardware business attached. So, now, if Larry wants a network computer, sorry netbook, with a Sun - or Oracle - logo on it, he can have one. Whether anyone else will remains quite another matter. ®

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