A Light-Hearted History

Please read from the bottom up if you want chronological order.

I am back to focusing on GraphicsMagick again. Clearly lack of employment is good for GraphicsMagick.

After working for ReQuest Multimedia, I worked as a contractor for Magnasync which was a small company which built voice recording systems. Although it was ran like a startup, the company was actually 51 years old and part of J&R Moviola, an even older company which has been around since the early 1920's (e.g the Moviola Victrola). While Magnasync's business has been voice recording systems since the 1950's, Moviola's claim to fame has been film editing equipment for the motion picture industry. Unfortunately, after over three years of dedicated service, Magnasync abruptly dumped me with one phone call, failed to honor the terms of my contract, and failed to pay me as well. Presumably the company is no longer in business since its web site has gone black.

After about a year of enjoying the Alcatel severance package and focusing on GraphicsMagick, I decided to take a contract position with ReQuest Multimedia. The work involved porting an existing code base for the ARQ product line from QNX 4 to Linux. Later on, I became a regular employee. The ARQ is a high-end audio player (“MP3 player”) for rich people with models which support over a terrabyte of disk (i.e., more than an iPOD). The task ended up being much more than a “port” since the software was in need of a major overhaul. After the port was completed successfully, I decided to leave ReQuest and go solo.

Starting in 2000, Alcatel started reducing staff due to the technology implosion. In April 2002 I was starting to feel safe again since there were only about 15% of us (from DSC) left and it seemed pretty inconceivable that Alcatel would completely waste the $4 billion that it spent on DSC. However apparently I was wrong since I was laid off anyway. The project that I was working on has now been relocated to India.

In August, 1998, DSC Communications was purchased by Alcatel, a huge European company with 130,000 employees. Several months after the purchase, the project I was working on was re-directed from developing a new POSIX-based object-oriented platform to one based on Alcatel's established S12 product. This is a bit disappointing as all of the cool projects I have worked on in the past four years have either been canceled (no longer a market for this product, yada, yada ...) or re-directed. Thankfully, the pay appears to be the same whether a product is delivered or not.

In January, 1995 I left Interphase and joined DSC Communications Corporation. DSC mostly builds telephone switch gear. They are best known as being responsible for several major telephone blackouts (see article) in the MCI telephone system. This was apparently due to a bad binary patch which caused an error to cascade through many switches. Luckily, the memory of this disaster had rapidly faded in collective memories and DSC was making money hand-over-fist. So I joined them in the quest for the almighty buck.

Similar to my position at Interphase I worked as a software tools guy but with much reduced responsibilities. Lucky for me, shortly after I started, the project I was working on was canceled and I found a position elsewhere in the company. Now I am working as a normal developer again, figuring out how to meld a network of "open" systems into a telephone switch that must stay up 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Fat chance, huh?

In October, 1992 I accepted a job at Interphase, a leading designer of high end interfaces (Ethernet, Token Ring, FDDI, SCSI, ATM, & Fibre Channel) for UNIX servers, super computers, and workstations. My position was "Software Tools Specialist". This is great because part of my responsibilities were involved with porting and testing the latest public domain development tools. No one said that work couldn't be fun too! While at Interphase, I got a lot of system administration experience including Internet firewalls and setting up Interphase's first WWW server (http://www.iphase.com/).

In July, 1992 I became unemployed and not being creative enough to think of anything else to do, I created a one man consulting firm called Simple Systems. I chose this simple name both because I like to keep things simple, and because the specialty of the business was the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). I did a month of SNMP consulting for a company (TIL Systems) in Toronto Canada, helping to develop an SNMP agent for an X.25 IP router.

From 9/91 until 7/92; I worked as a system programmer for PUREDATA Research which was a R/D office of Pure Data, a manufacturer of LAN equipment. Pure Data designed, manufactures, and sells a complete line of ARCNET, Ethernet, and Token Ring products. The corporate headquarters was in Toronto Canada. Total sales were around $20 million a year (Now that PUREDATA has purchased Intel's SatisFAXion FAX-modem line, I would think that sales should be up). One of my many projects at PUREDATA Research was to develop the firmware for a SNMP manageable 10BASE-T ethernet concentrator. Unfortunately, due to attrition of management staff, our office (in San Antonio, Texas) became officially to small to support its existance and it was closed in July. Pure Data was later acquired by Lenovo, the Chinese computer company.

From 9/86 to 9/91; I worked for Alamo Techology, Inc. (still at 301 S Frio St. #400, San Antonio, TX) a minority owned small-business, defense contractor where I designed test systems for missiles and jet engines. This was all very interesting work but I can't talk much about it here (I don't like bright lights in cold basements). As an employee of ATI I did lots of electronic hardware design in both the digital and instrumentation areas. I also did a fair amount of C programming for embedded system targets. Before I left, I headed a small development group of 5 engineers.

Created by Bob Friesenhahn, bfriesen@simplesystems.org