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Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 14:52 GMT
Oracle: A brief history

Oracle's founder Larry Ellison Oracle is riding the internet wave

Oracle would become the largest software company in a world without Microsoft.

As it is, the giant $170bn firm is still just a third of the size of the Seattle firm.

It has been closing the gap recently thanks to its early concentration on the internet.

It is very simple - they broke the law and should be punished. They probably should be broken up
Larry Ellison
Chief executive Larry Ellison's vision is of a world of network computers - such as adapted TVs and handheld devices - which gain their strength and power from a giant computer elsewhere.

These network computers would, coincidentally, not need an operating system, which has been the foundation of much of Microsoft's strength.

Value trebled

Mr Ellison describes PCs as "ridiculous devices", saying: "Just as the PC moved the mainframe off centre stage, the Internet has pushed the PC off."

Instead the powerful network computers would find the Oracle software and systems just the ticket.

The growth of Oracle during the 1980s and early 1990s lagged Microsoft, as so many others did, because of their failure to spot the vast potential of the personal computer.

But its business systems have come into their own in handling the vast amounts of traffic now being directed to leading internet sites.

More than 90 of the world's 100 most valuable dot com companies use Oracle software.

That helped fuel a 40% rise in profits during the last three months of 1999.

Lack of guts?

Investors seem to have confidence in its future - with its market value trebling in the past year.

The Oracle chairman, never one to skirt controversy, said in 1999 that his Microsoft counterpart, Bill Gates, believed the US Government did "not have the guts" to split the company because it feared the impact that sales of Mr Gates' stake in the company would have on the stock market.

Mr Ellison said that Microsoft's dominance of the computer market stifled innovation.

He said: "The problem with this model is that you can't innovate around the world. If you control the technology then you are the only one who can innovate."

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See also:
12 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Oracle calls for Microsoft break-up

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