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. :)