random memes }

Maybe Bill Gates was smarter than I thought?

My second job out of college was at Burroughs - then the second largest computer company in the world, and still growing strongly. Interviewing at Burroughs was fun! I went in at about 9am, and did not emerge until 8pm. In between I got to talk to smart people in many different areas. Later I heard that I might have set a record for the longest set of interviews. After talking to so many smart folk, I was completely convinced that Burroughs was a great choice.

The reality of working at Burroughs in the early 1980's was a bit more of a mixed bag. There were a lot of smart folk working at Burroughs, in that time. The company had all the potential needed to do great things. Yet ... there was something wrong. The company was - for the most part - not doing great things. The Burroughs of that time had inherited a lot of loyal customers, and customers were loyal to Burroughs because of some brilliant work and products done in the past. Somewhere between the 1960's and the 1980's ... something had gone badly wrong with management.

At the time, I did not have enough experience to know what was wrong, or even to be certain that anything was wrong (though I did eventually have suspicions).

I guess the interviews did me some good. I later learned that I'd landed a position that many folk within Burroughs very much wanted (and this was my second job out of college!).

Burroughs was a very early OEM partner for Microsoft Windows. I got sent by Burroughs to a Windows Developer conference in Seattle in 1984. During a lunch break, Bill Gates sat at our table, and suggested that we send in resumes to Microsoft. I was rather surprised at this. My employer had spent money to send me to the developer conference. For me to jump ship afterward seemed - rather rude. (I was very tempted, but my then-fiancée did not want to leave southern California. Turns out that was a very bad judgment on my part - both in the choice of wife, and in ignoring the opportunity.)

I may have underestimated Bill Gates. I thought his sitting at our table during lunch - and the offer - was essentially random. On reflection ... of the tens of thousands of programmers at Burroughs, I was the representative they sent - a kid just out of college. If I were Bill Gates and looking for a useful filter - a guy just out of college who ended up at the Windows Developer conference through the second largest computer company in the world - that would be about as good as anyone could get.

The other way of reading this is that when given the perfect opportunity, you should not trust my judgment. :)