The lae judge Thomas Jackson left his mark on the world of technology

18 Jun

 

Today, we honor the passing of the man who almost changed the technology industry. At the age of 76, retired federal court judge Thomas Penfield Jackson‘s life was silenced by cell cancer over the weekend. Judge Jackson had a distinguished 20 year career sitting on the federal bench but for us in the technology world he is best known for he ruling to break up Redmond-based Microsoft.

It was the late 1990’s and there was no Firefox, Opera or Chrome. Smaller companies that were trying to get a foot hold into were accusing Microsoft of shutting them out of their operating system. The case gain moment to the point that it went to federal court in 2000 judge Jackson ruled that the Redmond-based giant was a monopoly and had to much power on what software was included on their operating system. On June 7, 2000 he make a landmark ruling that Microsoft should be broke up into two companies, one that would make the operating system and one for the applications.

“I think he has a Napoleonic concept of himself and his company, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyed success, with no leavening hard experience, no reverses,” judge Jackson said about Bill Gates in one interview.

His ruling was overturned by and appellate court the next year. If his ruling would have been upheld and the mighty Redmond-based company did have to break up one could only imagine how different the development of software would have been over the last 13 years. Since it was over turned we will never know for sure if judge Jackson’s ruling would have helped or hindered the development of new technologies.

“I know of no good reason why a judge who has made a decision, in a case of obvious interest and concern to many people, should not at least be willing, if not expected, to respond to legitimate inquiries about it from responsible interlocutors, whether they are lawyers, academics, students, journalists, historians, or the local garden club,” Judge Jackson wrote in 2002 about judges speaking out on high profile cases.

For more on judge Thomas Penfield Jackson you might wish to read the following:

 

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