I grew up in Endicott, New York, often referred to as the birthplace of IBM. I remember thinking that IBM was the only company in the world because all my friends' fathers worked for IBM. And so did mine. I never thought about working for any other company. I wanted to be a writer and I loved the Think magazine that was delivered to our house every month, so I decided that's what I would do, grow up to work for IBM as a writer for Think magazine. I did become a writer, a technical writer. And I did come to work for IBM, right out of college. I never got to work on Think magazine, but I developed many technical manuals for IBM system software products, and I am now an editor at developerWorks.
One of my favorite memories of working for IBM dates back to my summer as an intern at what was then IBM's Federal Systems Division plant in Owego, New York. An announcement came over the PA system announcing a successful test of one of the early space shuttles (Enterprise maybe?). The IBMers at the Owego plant had built the onboard computers and the Input/Output Processors for that space shuttle. I remember a collective cheer resonating through the plant when that announcement came over the PA system. Everyone stood up at their desk and shouted for joy and with tremendous pride.
I eventually came to work on IBM software development projects and I must say, I never experienced any PA announcements or collective cheers when we announced a new release of WebSphere. It's just not the same. Those days of IBM's involvement in the space program were really special. When I visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and see the IBM shirts hanging on the backs of the chairs in the mission control room and stand inside the big ring that was the Instrument Unit (IU) for the Saturn V rocket, I feel a tremendous sense of pride. It occurs to me that I was beginning my IBM career in the early days of the space shuttle program and now in the later years of my career with IBM, I will experience the last space shuttle flight. What a run!
Me inside the IU (built by IBM) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.