Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Day of Internet Therapy

I spent a very therapeutic day yesterday trawling through Linkedin looking for old friends. It really does seem to be the case that we are each only five people away from knowing everyone in the world (like 90% of statistics, that was made up). The approach that I took was to scan the contact lists of all my contacts and look for names that I remembered; it certainly seems to have born fruit.
It was particularly pleasing to find John Giannandrea once again. Dubbed "John, Jean and Andrea" by still ST-resident wit, and excellent engineer Julian Wilson, the name was particularly appropriate as John did have the productivity of at least three good engineers. It was John who asked me to pay for a connection to the internet and thus gave INMOS (and subsequently ST) its first internet connection; it didn't take long to see how this world-wide email connection was going to change the way we did business. Sadly, through this connection I learned of the recent death of Jeff Mock who worked on the Pixar Renderman Engine when Pixar were using transputers and came to INMOS for a 6 month sabbatical. He provided us with the C run-time library to support multi-threading in our C development system. He was a great guy personally and participated in many of our lively technical debates. We were also priviledged to see some of the early images, such as the baby, that appear in their later blockbusters like toy story.
Of course the internet and email was one part of the story, and this arrived before web browsers arrived on the scene. It was some years later in 1994 that Mario Guanziroli gave me a demo of Mozilla in Cagliari; being slow on the uptake, it took some time (and explanation) for me to appreciate the significance of the "document" that we appeared to be browsing being distributed across various researchers' desktop machines.
As an unexpected side-effect of this trawl I have been delighted to have received so many good wishes from friends and past colleagues. I must apologise for the short notice I gave for my leaving drinks at the Cambridge Arms; it did of course result in a saving worthy of a Corporate Finance VP. I hope to be able to make amends over time.

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