Road Tripping Down Memory Lane

 
 
By Spencer F. Katt  |  Posted 2007-12-19
 
 
 

The Grizzled Grimalkin spent some time in Silicon Valley last week reminiscing with old friends—some of whom he hadn't seen in years.

The Hyperkinetic Kitty had to go all the way to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., to look up his former boon companions: the Commodore 64, the Apple II, the original IBM PC, Tandy's TRS-80 and even the early Atari models. "They all looked remarkably well, considering they have been museum pieces for most of the last 20 years," said the Wired One.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64, the museum had brought together some of the "Founding Fathers of Computing" to talk about those heady pioneering years. The group included Commodore founder and former CEO Jack Tramiel; Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak; and William Lowe, former president of IBM's Entry Systems Division, the builder of the IBM PC.

Tramiel talked about how he ended up naming his company. "Well, I had been in the Army, so I wanted to call my new company 'General,'" he said. "But that was already taken—General Motors, General Foods, etc. Then I tried to name it 'Admiral.' Nope. So 'Commodore' was the only name left I liked."

Wozniak, as usual, looking into the future rather than dwelling in the past, lamented the lack of progress on three-dimensional computer displays. "Right now, we're stymied on the two-dimensional display, and have been for a generation," he said. "There is no 3-D in sight as yet."

The thoroughly Maudlin Mouser tore himself away and hopped a limo south down the 101 to catch Cisco's annual C-Scape conference in San Jose. But the Finicky Kitty heard far more corporate cheerleading than hard product news to suit his taste.

During a demonstration of collaboration technology, Cisco executives simulated a new product that could clean up dirty water. After pouring a glass from this fake filtering machine, the chief demonstration officer, Jim Grubb, offered CEO John Chambers the glass to drink.

But Chambers deferred to Grubb, who, after some feigned reluctance, agreed to drink it. But before he did, he poured a packet of something into the water—the packet was labeled Cisco Kool-Aid. "No wonder these guys are so upbeat," laughed the Lynx.

The following evening the Gastronomic Gossip was at his favorite French restaurant in San Francisco where he had finished the foie gras and was about to tuck in the marinated noisettes when he couldn't help but hear the conversation at a nearby table.

A Sun Microsystems manager was telling a dinner group that "we really suck at doing [data center] management tools. Right now all we can do is try and make our [hardware and software] compatible with others, like Scalent, until we can get our own products developed. We are definitely working on [management tools], but we have a long way to go."

The exec's candor was so inspiring that Spence decided to have the '95 Chateau d'Yquem with his soufflé.

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