QotD: John C. Dvorak

If it wasn’t already ludicrously obvious that John C. Dvorak is an asshat, here’s a snarly, clue-free piece of evidence from 1984:

Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation — as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I dont want one of these new fangled devices.

— John C. Dvorak in the San Francisco Examiner on February 19th, 1984 (via Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s time machine, 1984: How critics reviewed the Mac)

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24 Responses to QotD: John C. Dvorak

  1. I think you are being very mean to asshats. Dvorak always was a wally, even back then (and I can remember his columns in PC World)

  2. While I don’t have the proof to back it up, I quite distinctly remember reading his PC Mag column some years back telling everyone how mp3 files were utterly terrible and would never take off. Clearly a man with vision.

  3. Anthony says:

    But he’s an asshat with style.
    Mice suck, anyway.

  4. anon says:

    I never respected him or any of his predictions….

  5. James Henstridge says:

    Perhaps you are failing to interpret his reviews correctly. How many products has he disapproved of that actually turned out to be failures?

    Perhaps being slammed by Dvorak is an indicator of future success.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Isn’t he the same guy that said Windows was chewing up 100% of his CPU with the “System Idle Process”?

  7. He sure is!

    See http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1304348,00.asp

    And I quote:

    “IDLE-TIME PROCESS. Once in a while the system will go into an idle mode, requiring from five minutes to half an hour to unwind. It’s weird, and I almost always have to reboot. When I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, I see that the System Idle Process is hogging all the resources and chewing up 95 percent of the processor’s cycles. Doing what? Doing nothing? Once in a while, after you’ve clicked all over the screen trying to get the system to do something other than idle, all your clicks suddenly ignite and the screen goes crazy with activity. This is not right.”

  8. Ben says:

    Thanks for tracking that down, Chris. Funny stuff.

    It seems like this guy has a habit of writing without researching, and making wild predictions. He’s got a steady job out of it somehow.

  9. “It seems like this guy has a habit of writing without researching, and making wild predictions. He’s got a steady job out of it somehow.”

    So what did we do wrong?


  10. laceration says:

    I and probaly about 80000 x the people that read this blog, read Dvorak. Why? because he is a provocative and interesting thinker. I have always had a theory that there is a inverse relationship between creative thinking and sound judgment. Sometimes Dvorak is stunningly wrong, but often he cuts right through the crap and gives a crystal clear view. Writers who can do this are on a short list and I have not found any on Planet Ubuntu, where I picked up this article. I also find it ironic that your audience likely consists of linux command line geeks that are probably the last holdouts still asking the question Dvorak posed.

  11. laceration, your arguments are so wrong on so many levels that I find it hard to respond. But I’ll try. Firstly, most creative thinkers are creative because they see a problem in a completely different light. This doesn’t give them unsound judgement, in fact its probably the reverse – often their judgement is correct because they see what so many others do not. To say that Dvorak is a “creative thinker” because he rubbishes things like the mouse is strange to say the least.

    As for your belief that most of the readers of Jeff’s blog are “linux command line geeks”, I’d say that you are completely wrong. Jeff’s blog is also aggregated on Planet Gnome. I’m not sure you are aware of but Gnome has a high focus on GUI applications and usability, with very little command line involved. I’ve also found that a high majority of Ubuntu Linux folks chose Ubuntu because it is easy to use and probably use the GUI more than the CLI. I’d say that if anything they would find the question that Dvorak posed (“why would ANYONE need a mouse?!?”) to be as ridiculous as Jeff highlighted.

  12. Chad says:


    I’m one of those “command line geeks” that you speak of and I’m not holding out for anything. I agree with Chris and Jeff’s comments and, also, I simply like doing things from the command line.

  13. kraken says:

    “I dont want one of these new fangled devices.”

    Hmm, I said the same thing when my parents got a mac. I picked the thing up and scratched my head thinking nobody would ever use such a funny looking device.

    Keep in mind this was 1984. Virtually nobody used a mouse back then. The C64 was the most popular computer back then and it didn’t need a mouse.

  14. Tony Fisk says:

    I can remember wondering why anyone would use the mouse on a Mac as well…

    The year was 1997, and I couldn’t believe that people actually *liked* a system with a single click mouse!

  15. deedeeflo says:

    Poster number 1 is nuts. Dvorak never wrote for PC World, nothing like fading memory in old age. He wrote for InfoWorld, another IDG Publication.
    Meanwhile, taking quotes out of context, away from the era they lived in is the asswipe concept of life. Easy to see what was “oh so wrong” in retrospect. Get a few years under your belts and see what is going to hit and what will fade in todays’ market..and let’s see how you do.
    I think Dvorak has been more of an observer of the time and pretty much right about the key things. (And, mice do suck, compared to on keyboard commands if you are busy, or trying to do any production work. But, I’m assuming some of you are two fingered typists…)

  16. deedeeflo, I think we all realise that nobody is right all the time. However, Dvorak acts arrogantly and positions himself as an infallible oracle of technology, so when therefore he gets slammed for when he gets things wrong. What can I say? If he wasn’t such an asshat, he probably wouldn’t get *called* an asshat, and people might be more forgiving when he gets it wrong.

  17. Cas says:

    The slam on Dvorak is funny as hell, especially coming from Waugh. Kinda’ like the kettle calling the pot black if you ask me. Dvorak COULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT. At that point in time, nobody used a mouse, and the application base didn’t need them. For Waugh to pull this outta his bum now and claim “oh look how wrong he is and whatta prat” is just another reason waugh don’t get paid what Dvorak gets paid.

    Waugh here is just as opinionated an asshat, but he can’t hold a candle to Dvorak.

    Also, Dvorak has been laughing all the way to the bank all these years BECAUSE he relishes the roll of asshat. Its his schtick. The difference ‘tween waugh and dvorak? I prefer reading Dvorak. At least he’s humorous.

  18. Jeff Waugh says:

    Indeed — if you read Dvorak as comedy rather than analysis, there’s definitely humour to be found. Good try though!

  19. lol!

    I thought it a bit ironic that Cas reads your blog.

  20. Cas says:

    Here’s some comedy for you then.


    Now is Master Dvorak such an “asshat”, or……..hmmmm?

  21. Jeff Waugh says:

    You think a single article which appeals to my particular tastes (with the usual smattering of easily avoided inaccuracies) might sway me, against a career of dunderheaded idiocies? Do find another playground.

  22. Cas says:

    A lot of your posted drivel shows up on planet Ubuntu. I read the planet as a matter of course as I’m an ubuntu advocate and user. I see stupid stuff from your feed there from time to time, I come here and you have a comment section so I respond, and you don’t like the response so its “go find another playground?”
    Cry me a river.

    And oh that was a well thought out and meaningful response about a MAINSTREAM journalist who is beginning to advocate in said mainstream press the OS we both love.
    -hopefully you understand sarcasm as I in no way have any illusions about swaying you.

    You don’t like the guy, big whoop, the world is full of opinions, mine included. But you put your opinions out there for the world to see and then expect us all to fall into the Waugh-world lockstep with no other opinion or dissent?

    Dvorak has been a mainstream well paid journalist/commentator for a long time NOT because of your opinion, but those of his peers in the community and the industry as a whole. He is respected because unlike your ‘take’ on the guy, he has been right far more times than wrong. He takes chances, and on this issue he was wrong. No one bats a thousand, but he has been critical of linux in general for years and this of course can be a real sore spot for linux folk. But in general he’s been critical of a lot of silly crap over the years, calling a lot of stuff out correctly.

    Comments to the article posted can’t sway the poster (usually), but they can counterpoint the smack occasionally for others to be swayed in another direction, or to just provide another point of view to provide an opinion contrary to what has been published.

    Unless of course the author of the article decides to censor said comments. Then of course another playground as you so eloquently put it would be found.

    As I’ve never seen you do that, you have my respect for that at the least.

  23. Jeff Waugh says:

    Ah, complaining about my blog because you choose to read it elsewhere… I am sorry you have been inconvenienced by my reference to historical analysis that seems hilarious in retrospect. Next time, I expect a thorough flogging and evisceration for reflecting on Bill Gates’ famous suggestion that “640KB of RAM should be enough for anybody”. That Dvorak gives a crap about Linux is entirely irrelevant to the humour in this quote (and his general lack of clue).

    Good try, though — your “righteous indignation about someone else’s sense of humour” style is definitely improving!

    (Also, people deleting shitty comments on their own blogs can not even remotely be described as “censorship”. There are plenty of other places you can go to say whatever the hell you want. When you attempt to say something within someone else’s forum, they have every right to choose whether or not to publish it.)

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