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banner Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 14:52 GMT
Sun Microsystems: A brief history
Sun Microsystems and AOL have joined forces
Sun's Ed Zander and AOL's Barry Schuler in alliance
Sun Microsystems developed the Java programming language to run on any type of computer.

But Microsoft was accused of taking Java products and tweeking them so they ran better on its Windows operating system.
Sun Microsystems
Sun is worth $135bn, and came head-to-head with Microsoft over modifications the latter made to Sun's Java computer language.
It is also best known for its servers, and recently its embracing of the Linux operating system. It has particularly targeted corporate computer clients, focusing largely on the internet
Microsoft defended its move, saying it had merely adapted Java to make sure it worked well with Windows.

But during the trial, an e-mail from Microsoft boss Bill Gates was presented, containing the line "Do we have a clear plan on what we want Apple to do to undermine Sun?"

Sun Microsystems has overcome those difficulties, gaining some powerful friends in its internet age development.

Scott McNealy, chief executive of the company founded in 1982, is a big opponent of Microsoft being broken up.

Intellectual rights

At the Telecom 99 conference last year he said: "I think break-up is the wrong remedy to do up front. If it's a last resort, yes, if there are no other competitors then break them up.

"But we're still there, Oracle's still there, Novell's still there. If you only have Ma Bell, then create baby Bells.

"If you have other competitors you shouldn't be creating Baby Bells."

His preferred result was for Microsoft to be prevented from making investments in other companies to obtain intellectual property.

"If they hadn't been able to go out and buy Internet Explorer (from Mosaic) and had to develop their own browser technology, maybe they wouldn't have been able to take Netscape out," he gave as one example.

Quadrupled value

Sun Microsystems has got itself some powerful friends, especially its three year alliance with America Online, agreed at the same time as AOL's purchase of Netscape in 1998.

The companies are working together to develop next generation internet device.

The company seems well placed for future growth, as its software and network operations are used by many of the growing web companies.

It has also been investing in and developing a range of Linux products.

Its value has more than quadrupled in the past year, with its market worth topping $135bn at the start of February 2000.

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