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So there you are, out on the corporate battlefield, dodging the incoming artillery shells being fired at you from Tokyo and the guy down the street . . . only to discover that your own generals are purposely trying to get you killed, that some of your fellow soldiers are attempting to shoot you in the back, that the medics and chaplains will rob and kill you if you get wounded, and that your own government has sown mines into the ground beneath your feet . . .

 

I've had many wonderful opportunities to work on a variety of interesting projects in a variety of interesting companies and countries—not to mention with a huge variety of people, interesting, weird, or otherwise. Some of my co-workers have become long-term friends and we've stayed in touch over the years.

Intravation Intravation Sun Microsystems Sun Microsystems
Control Data Corporation Control Data Corporation Sperry Univac Sperry Univac
Philips Telecommunicatie Industrie Philips Telecommunicatie Industrie Marconi Company Marconi Company
Smiths Industries Smiths Industries
   
Intravation

Intravation was founded in 1996 by Steve Toll, a now-and-again squash partner. Steve started Intravation along with Tony Salah and my friend Tom Masino from NextStep days. By the middle of 1997, Tom had persuaded me to join Intravation, and soon after that, Michael Ruddick (Tom's friend from college days) joined the company as well. These days, Michael runs Intravation's day-to-day operations from World Headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois. I coded a lot of the GUI work for Intravation, as well as fighting the battle of the Netscape security model.

Intravation Visit Intravation

Intravation was started to develop Java-based client-server applications for company intranets. Intravation products consist of
Virtual Proposal Center

Virtual Proposal Center (VPC), a collaborative web-based Proposal Management system

Virtual Sales Center

Virtual Sales Center (VSC), a system for generating Customised Sales Collateral

Sun Microsystems

I joined Sun Microsystems early in 1982, after a fortuitous meeting on an airplane with Bill Joy when we were both on our way to Boston for a USENIX conference.

Sun Microsystems Visit Sun

Bill asked me to join Sun and start the Technical Publications division, and I agreed to take on the formidable challenge of making the UNIX documentation fit for ordinary human beings. In the grand scheme of the universe, I reckon I didn't succeed at this task, even if I did make some real improvements.

 

After five years in Publications I was ready for a change and I moved to Acquired Software with a team of fabulous people (including my long-time friends Mary Campione, Alexandra Rankine, Aylon Engler, Brenda Bowden, Mary Hamilton, Scott Rautmann, and many others, and with Steve Goldner handling the important task of keeping company management out of our faces) in a joint development project with Island Graphics and Informix. We developed and brought to market SunWrite (page layout), SunDraw (drawing), SunPaint (pixel painting), SunWingZ (a “third generation” spreadsheet).

Control Data Corporation

I joined Control Data Corporation in Toronto as a Senior Programmer working first on the Star 65 super-computer, then later on the Cyber-180 Operating System. For a while I worked on the Cyber Interactive Debug package, followed by the COBOL Message Control System.

 

I then went back to the Cyber-180 Software Engineering System development tools project, and wrote the first version of the Cyber-180 debug package.

 

As a part of the Software Engineering System project, I ported the Kernighan and Plauger Software Tools in Ratfor package to the Cyber-170, a move that got me into the world of UNIX.

 

Control Data Corporation began a long slow decline in the middle 1980s, eventually ending up as one of those nebulous “System Integration” companies, and were eventually acquired by British Telecom in 2000.

Sperry Univac

In a brief transition from Philips to Control Data, I worked at Sperry Univac (long since merged with Burroughs into UniSys) at their London Development Centre, on RTOS, a Real Time Operating System.

Philips Telecommunicatie Industrie

Philips Telecommunicatie Industrie (PTI) were located in Hilversum, the Netherlands. PTI were a division of Philips Gloielampefabrike headquartered in Eindhoven. PTI had embarked on development of computer-controlled telephone exchanges.

A major aspect of the project was the Project Generation System, namely, given a description of the requirements for a specific telephone exchange, generate the appropriate software components to build the entire software system. I was one of the two first people hired to work on the Project Generation System.

The Marconi Company

The Marconi Company* of Chelmsford, Essex, England, have their corporate fingers in many pies, including marine and aviation radar, wireless, air traffic control, message switching, and more. I worked at Marconi as a hardware checkout engineer for their System-4/30 jointly developed with English Electric.

Marconi Visit Marconi

I went on to create diagnostic software for the Myriad-III, the last of the Myriad Computer line, and finally, was involved in several logic simulation projects.

 

* Yes—the company founded by Marchese Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio.

Marconi Conference Center and Historic Site  The Marconi Conference Center and Historic Site

Denizens and visitors to the San Francisco Bay Area can visit The Marconi Conference Center and Historic Site in Marshall, California, located on California Highway 1 by Tomales Bay.

Smiths Industries

Smiths Industries also have their fingers in many pies, just like the Marconi Company, in areas relating to aviation electronics and marine electronics. At Smiths I learned a lot about aviation electronics and acquired my first taste of computer programming on a venerable Elliott 803B. During a joint study program, I was at Bradford Institute of Technology, where I also learned programming for the Stantec Zebra—arguably one of the weirdest computer architectures ever created.

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Page Updated 2013 May 20