Geeking Out on the Good Ol’ Days

I am 22 years older than Ethernet. At 22, I worked for Xerox Canada and was getting training in El Segundo and a bit of on-the-job troubleshooting experience between courses at Xerox PARC labs in Palo Alto, not on Ethernet, but on Xerox Sigma 9 (used to be Scientific Data Systems) mainframes and various peripherals.

Three years later, I was working for Digital Equipment of Canada and was getting training on the PDP11 series and later back to Boston for Large Computer Group training on KI10s. Those were the days when large companies put technical people through frequent vendor-specific training at company-owned schools, before Zoom-rooms and webinars became so much cheaper but inferior training in many ways.

In-person class room training and the associated after hours socializing with colleqes were both important it turns out.) Anything from 2 weeks to six months at a time. Although I’d still not actually worked hands-on with Ethernet by the time I entered management, I’d been trained on two of three computers first used for ARPAnet WAN testing between campuses. It’s not like I’m a unicorn or anything, but it is “a bit” rare to find others with similar cross-vendor experiences to reminisce about.

Later as I worked for many other companies, the Internet, built from connected Intranets that are increasingly Ethernet-based LANs, matured and grew up right along beside me. So anyway, 50 years later I am still 22 years older than Ethernet, but I suspect it will still be with us when I am gone. I’m still working now though, pulling cables, racking servers, and even the all-nighters (two last week, but at least some, like these, were done remotely from my home office.) 

Most people who are 22 today don’t usually know there ever was a Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) and that they were once the second largest computer company in the world next to IBM. They also don’t know that after Digital Equipment was named, calculators, digital clock radios, VCRs, and wristwatches all started to have the word “Digital” prominently printed on them and Digital’s Switchboards got many calls about calculators, watches, clock radio, and VCRs with digital displays. How I wish I had the domain name today!

David Wadleigh is President & CIO at Terrific.IT LLC and a longtime member and supporter of the NOSHA community.