In a comment on my Thoughts on DEC post, Tom Miller offered a rat’s ass if I scanned in my VAX 8600 (Venus) Ibox microcode listing.
Well, here’s Venus Ibox microcode v3.73, generated on 7-May-1984. Tom, you owe me one rat’s patootie.
This ran on Venus through the end of 1984. I had transferred to Alan Kotok‘s Simplified Architecture for Fast Execution (SAFE) project, where I was looking into VAX-11 emulation. Large VAX Engineering’s senior management called an “all hands on deck” emergency, and everyone needed do whatever they could to help Venus ship on time. So, I informally returned to work on Venus and ran one of the lab debug shifts. It was equally exhilarating and stressful…an, “I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world,” and, “I hope I never go through something like that again,” experience.
This version ran VMS and oodles of VAX programs. I don’t know if there was a later version; if so, I never heard about it.
BTW, here’s a nice paper about why DEC went down the tubes.
I’m off this week, and while loafing around the house I took an hour or so to search the web about Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), a former employer. That was a mistake, because it got me thinking about my past. This was fun for a while, and then it got sobering.
I worked for DEC from February 1978 until August 1996. During the glory years (before 1986) it was an adventure. We were on a world-changing mission. The code I wrote would live on and the work I did was so cool. Working for DEC was like working for Microsoft in the ’90s or ’00s, except that nobody hated your company. It was like working for Google except that nobody thought you were evil. It was like working for Amazon but pretty much everyone loved working there and it seemed like the world rooted for you to succeed. Most of all, everything we did clicked. There were some bad decisions, but the company always recovered and went on to greater glory.
I wrote CPU microcode for the VAX-11/750 and VAX 8600, worked on some cancelled projects that nobody will ever know about (ECL microprocessors, large ECL mainframes, a new RISC architecture), and my last project was working on Windows NT at DECwest. In its day the VAX 8600 micropipeline was the coolest thing since sliced bread. How many people today know or care about it? Zip.
I started my search for a new job on September 29 2014, when my employer (IP Street) implemented some organizational changes, and I concluded it was time for me to move on. I accepted an offer on December 22. My search took 12 weeks.
My parameters, and some unease, at the outset
I was still gainfully employed, which helps when you’re job hunting. The changes that were the proximate cause of my leaving would be implemented in the November — January timeframe, so I wasn’t worried about future unemployment. For IP Street, this was as good a time as any to leave: The product was stable, there wasn’t a big product initiative in progress, and the impending business changes would cause a blip in the company’s pace anyway.
I talked to a few recruiters in my recently concluded job search. Two of them stood out from the pack…
Kathi Jones, founder of 3DegreesTalent, spent a lot of time working an opening, even after it became clear that the company might not pay her a commission.
I contacted Matt Chung, of West500 Partners, late in my search, when I already had companies in play. He gave me great résumé advice, and displayed a personal touch that is unfortunately less common today.
There are many other fine recruiters in the Seattle area. These two went the extra mile.
I’ve resigned from IP Street. Tomorrow is my last day.
I’ve worked at IP Street since it launched nearly five years ago, and I loved contributing to the company in big and small ways. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve worked with great people.
I’m very proud of the team we built, the product we built, and how we rose to meet every challenge. When you create a product and watch it grow and adapt over time to include features that weren’t even dreamt of when you started, it’s wondrous!
Alas, there’s a season to everything, and now’s the right time to move on to my next career adventure.
Going in to work tomorrow will feel odd.
I’m counting the days until I get on the plane for PyCon! My company’s not paying for my attendance, and I’m using PTO for my time out of the office. OTOH, I’ll have a clear conscience if I happen to talk to a company in the exhibition hall.
Jeff Bezos was in the news this week. Our local tech news site, GeekWire, published five posts about him. What are the most important traits of innovators? Have a willingness to fail. Bezos believes that truth shakes out when ideas and perspectives are banged against each other. Think long-term. Etc.
Some of the commentary was a tad critical of his personality. (Not in GeekWire, but elsewhere.) One observation (I don’t remember where I read it) was that he cared only about the business, to the point where he could make “hyperrational” decisions about what’s best for Amazon. Which makes him a great CEO, but maybe not such a great friend. If it’s true.
It got me thinking, not for the first time, that most entrepreneurial advice about starting a business is useless. Even if it comes from other entrepreneurs.