There are leaders and there are followers…

… and I am a follower, by design. I look back and compare my steps to the steps of my heroes, and it’s obvious how little I really knew… or for that matter, how little I had a chance of ever knowing. They were still my experiences; but, while I was putting together chips, Woz was taking classes, becoming an engineer, and being promoted by another famous Steven. While I was trying to put together small businesses, the other Steven was selling products. Nothing I did was revolutionary and aside from the education opportunity it afforded me, it was largely a waste of time.

I remember my father reminiscing once that he hadn’t bought Coke or IBM when it was cheap, and he wondered out loud if one day he’d regret not converting the corner of 17th & Pierce to a gas station. That would have been around 1964.

I would not say he had regrets, that corner sold as part of a 5M dollar package ten years later. It is strange today to see the spot, our whole yard is a circular driveway for a high-rise. The once “river view” from the 13th story is no better than that from ground level when I grew up there. The newest neighbors are higher.

I spent long hours in car dealerships, and particularly remember looking at my Alfetta GT for hours, imagining how it would be, not only balanced 50/50, front/rear; but, also side-to-side. I envisioned a computerized circuit at each wheel probably providing air into a shock absorber and a central control that would be manually operated by the driver. What it could actually do, I had no real idea, it seemed like somehow, driving feel would have to get better if the car were balanced side-to-side, as well.

But, it wasn’t legal in SCCA racing, nor necessarily did it have a reason to exist on the street. It seemed like a good idea; but, I just never saw an application, much less a company or an industry. I did nothing.

I started with my circuit boards and wiring prior to starting college. I needed an education. And the education gave me an opportunity. And the opportunity allowed me to serve my country in some small way, to work with heroes every day. I was married with children planned in the future, one class at a time for seven years was my path to a two-year degree.

I started both college and working in data processing that year as a COBOL programmer.

In 1978, the perfect connection to the industry was IBM. They hadn’t opened their notorious “black bag” yet to give us the PC; but, it was coming. My computer architecture class was taught by an IBM full-timer, pin-stripe suit, and all.

While going over and over a complex architectural point, I am quite sure that I “invented” hyper-threading in that class and explained it to my teacher. But, as with any great invention, it’s a matter of time whether you get credit for inventing it, or someone else does. I did nothing.

Hyper-threading was introduced in 2002, I dropped the ball; because I never gave it another thought for those 24 years. When I saw it available, I though, oh, yeah. What took so long?

I do believe there is no original thought, that there is nothing new, every drop of water, every molecule, having always existed. So, I have set myself to believe that my thoughts are no different than yours, that I am no better, nor necessarily any worse.

I often evaluate myself there, too. I don’t involve others in my folly. And my track record isn’t always known. I am better at promoting others than myself.

By 2003 it has been estimated that there are one billion 555 timers manufactured every year. About all I remember about a 555 timer is “60-minute timing in 60 second cycles”. Basically, I did a little more than “nothing”. I built a few circuits, had a few ideas, learned something else, and moved on.

My earlier transition from the automotive industry to the computer industry included a short stint recruiting.

My employer will remain nameless due to certain circumstances. Two us where hired through an ad on Tuesday, given three days of training and helped to place ads for the weekend that were income by Tuesday.

Very simple, straight-forward and effective. The company, unfortunately, was “the company”. The existence was admitted to in the Washington Post; although, the location was off by twenty miles. It was in Tyson’s Corner, not Rockville on the Pike, as reported in the Post.

It was the model for a franchised personnel system; Thick with military, involved in controversy with the Diplomat National Bank, which itself had some issues involving Korea. Somewhere along the line, a whole bunch of money went missing, and the company infused new personalities in ways you would not imagine. Then the company, and most of the people, evaporated.

This subject alone could be a book. Most likely to be chalked up as fantasy or fiction. Espionage takes place at many levels… Know it.

Of course there were times in my chip wiring days when I envisioned many components on fewer chips, saw it all on one chip… it has come to that dozens of years ago today. It gets better and better, stronger and stronger. No way could “I” have achieved any of that. No way I could ever have gotten enough education, experience, money to do all that… It is not like I didn’t do nothing though.

My mentor was a marketing genius. He worked with an IBM Selectric typewriter, a master of words, what he wrote once was always what needed to be written. I never saw him make a typo or a correction. He had type balls for all the necessary characters and symbols, but, was properly conservative with their use; much unlike, some newbies today with fonts in a word processor. He knew what it took to get noticed, down to paper and printing style. Even stuffing the envelope and addressing. Pure genius!

As it applies to my life, he wrote the book on the job search.

Being from Washington, my mentor was in frequent demand by out-going congressional offices. No telling how many hundreds of people he helped as he helped me.

One of the lessons he taught was that you must elevate yourself to the position you want. This was one of those lessons that was hard to take, hard to understand, and you always felt fortunate not to have to do that.

It seemed like lying back then. I have achieved the desired elevation today 🙂

Stay tuned for more. (more story, not lies).

30 year career in data, analysis, architecture, transformations, migrations, replication, using Oracle, Sybase, SQL Server, DB/2, XDB, Informix, Ingres, Seed, SQL DB/4381, and others. Nobody buys a database. People buy solutions. AWS is my network.

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