A corporate tale of greed, desperation, and the power of expectations. And a little bit about Capacitors.
Hi Ned, great story! Brings back memories. Sorry about your bonus but I am sure money wasn't the reason you stuck around at DEC. I know it wasn't for me..
As a 25-year veteran in Tech, I found that retelling of your experience to be extremely insightful and personally/professionally helpful. Thank you for sharing that. Puts the mindset and gratitude back into perspective.
Wow, a story about Digital without a guy named Steve in it? That's a first for me, although the multiple Mikes do make sense.
Thanks for a great read!
Paraphrasing the last paragraph, I won't count on the fact the next one should also be great though, so thank you right now for this moment I've just experienced reading it :)
Wow am barely 5 years in my tech job here in Kenya and your story has really inspired me.
Great story. I had similar experiences as an electrical engineer early in my career. Management ideas that sounded silly then and ridiculous now.
I used your DEC Alpha machines later in my career when I moved into software. Great machines. I even went out to your benchmark center in Mass to test out new machines. Still have a T-shirt from the place. It was a shock to see DEC disintegrate the way it did.
Thank you Ned for reminiscing your time at DEC. I worked briefly on VMS porting Samba, CIFS file server at HP and met a few engineers from DEC. I have very high respect for DEC engineering.
In my career, I have enjoyed more when there was no financial motive attached. I have seen the worst in people and teams come out when they compete against each other. I have the same feeling towards promotions tied to performance. People tend to pick work that gives them the best shot at promotion rather than something they enjoy and good for the company in the long run.
I wonder if it is possible to create a different reward system where people are encouraged to help each other than individual heroics.
"DEC would be sold off to it’s competitors" ->
"DEC would be sold off to its competitors"
what a great story! as a DEC engineering alum, i agree that the satisfaction of designing and delivering a product far out-shadowed the money
Hi From the UK - Mad Ned (aka?)
This is TC Dexodus committee member and editor of the Newslink Quarterly e-mag that goes to the 1000 or so Dexodus members here. Can I include your great tale (or link to) in a future Newslink?
I started my freshman year at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ in August 1983 and Stevens gained widespread recognition as the first college in the country (maybe the world) to require all incoming freshman to own a computer. The computer that the administration chose was the DEC PC 350.
It was a solidly built and well designed computer with two 5.25" double-sided floppy drives in the space that one normally occupied and it had the world's first hard drive in a personal computer. DEC had not managed to get a floppy version of Fortran 77 ready in time for the rollout so they gave us all 10 MB hard drives with every student promising not to hand it over to the competition and to give it back. Ultimately, we all got to keep the hard drives at no cost (hey the PC cost over $3,300 without the hard drive!).
The only downside was that it ran its own proprietary operating system and DEC was the only company supplying applications that would run on the PC. Contrast this with MS-DOS and the 2,0000 companies making software for that platform and it spelled the demise of the computer at Stevens. Stevens switched to IBM compatibles after I graduated.
Amusing read. Learnt a lot about company cultures.
I really enjoyed the story, but the photo of the scope with digital logic breakout doesn’t do justice to how much harder it was for you to diagnose things in 1996.
Former Digital Equipment Corp employee here (round about the same time). I left because of this. Financials as bonuses were doing better things thank 25k bonuses. So I went there (it didnt pan out as well as expected), and learned that DEC in this group that you refer to are well on your way to seeing it for what it is. Signal Processing. I thank you and wish there were more of us around, but I see us again in the same as way as it has been suppressed to be.