Monday, February 16, 2009

Back to the future...

Wondering really what happened at MySQL? And how it happened? And when Sun Microsystems acquired us? Well, that story in it's entirety still remains to be told, although there is at least one book on the subject.

But what I wanted to Blog on here is a similar situation, way back, that actually has been documented, and not by some anomymous writer, but by someone, and a technical person, who was actually there. The subject is the growth of the very early years of commercial computing, more specifically Univac (later Sperry, later Unisys), CDC (Control data) and Cray. The story is told by David E Lundstrom in the book "A Few Good Men from Univac" (ISBN 0-262-12120-4). This is a highly entertaining and interesting book, and the story has many similarities to what goes on here at MySQL / Sun these days. As some of you has probably noticed, there is a certain amount of political game going on here at MySQL / Sun, but that was expected, and this book tells a rather similar story on how Univac was aquired by a much larger company (Remington-Rand), how some key people left and started a competing company a few years later etc. Many similarities here.

Mr Lundstrom himself is a technical, but not deeply technical person. Largely, he held technical sales and marketing jobs during these years (which were much more technical jobs in those days).

Speaking on old computers, if you visit the MySQL User Conference this year, you might want to combine this with a visit to the Computer History Museum. This museum is in Montain View, and has a large collection of old cool hardware. If you were at the now defunct computer museums in Boston and San Jose, I can tell you this is different. This is no stupid "experience computer" thingy for kids, like the thing in Boston used to be (Nothing wrong with that, but as far as a technical computer museum went, the Boston thing left a few things to be desired).

Among the objects at this museum is a working PDP-1, a Zuse Z-3 (I think it's was a Z-3 at least) and a Kitchen Computer, a WEIRD contraption that, I tell you! By the way this is stuff that I saw when I was there last, a few years ago, so things might have chnged. I'll probably be going to this museum on the Saturday before the UC, and maybe we can arrange something, if someone wants to join for an exploration of really old hardware. Drop me an email, if you are interested. If you want to go there on your own, take the streetcar outside the UC hotel, and travel to Mountain View. The Museum is not in downtown MV thogh, so there is a 20 minute walk or so a ahead, not a nice wolk, but possible (you have to cross the 101 on an overpass).

And a note to UC organizers: Maybe you want to talk to these friendly guys at the Museum, they might want to promote themselves at the UC and entertain us with some horrible computer artifacts from the good old days.

Brushing of the dust from digging into the history of computers

1 comment:

back2office said...
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