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Brief History Of Linux (#26)

On the surface, Transmeta was a secretive startup that hired Linus
Torvalds in 1996 as their Alpha Geek to help develop some kind of
microprocessor. Linus, everyone found out later, was actually hired as
part of a low-budget yet high-yield publicity stunt. While other dotcoms
were burning millions on glitzy marketing campaigns nobody remembers and
Superbowl ads displayed while jocks went to the bathroom, Transmeta was
spending only pocket change on marketing. Most of that pocket change went
towards hosting the Transmeta website (the one that wasn't there yet)
which, incidentally, contained more original content and received more
visitors than the typical dotcom portal.

Microsoft relies on vaporware and certain ahem stipends given to
journalists in order to generate buzz and hype for new products, but
Transmeta only needed Non-Disclosure Agreements and the Personality Cult
of Linus to build up its buzz. When the secret was finally unveiled, the
Slashdot crowd was all excited about low-power mobile processors and
code-morphing algorithms -- for a couple days. Then everyone yawned and
went back to playing Quake. It's still not entirely clear when Transmeta
is actually supposed to start selling something.



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