A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.
I recently made my second trip to Palo Alto, this one was to help my wife’s best friend Bev celebrate a significant birthday. But while there, I realized I was making a journey of my own. A pilgrimage to the heart of what I hold dear. Without realizing it I had come home. To me, Silicon Valley is the Mecca of technology.
The pilgrimage starts when you step off the plane in San Francisco. The corridor walls are plastered with billboards proclaiming the latest and greatest in Tech; Apple iPads, Blackberry and Android Phones; applications abound. Driving down the 101, the skyline is full of reminders of technology. Evernote, Checkpoint, Oracle and Core Logic all have buildings visible from the roadway.
Anne, Bev and I had lunch at Royal Siam, a very nice Thai restaurant in the middle of Palo Alto. As we were leaving, Bev remarked about a group of six individuals, talking about some technology. “They are your people.” This got me thinking about what I truly enjoy in my life. Anne was headed towards a mani / pedi and I had a couple of hours to myself, so I went to Mountain View.
Computer History Museum
Is where I realized that the valley was Tecca. The history of the computer is familiar to me, as I have lived it. Not as long as the computer has been around, but certainly my life has been wound around it. My father was in the Air Force and when I accompanied him to his shop, I remember seeing some of the terminals and mini computers that are now on display.
The first computer my family owned was a Franklin Ace. I learned about programming on a TRS-80, used Wordstar and VisiCalc on an IBM PC in College. I Missed a Hall and Oates concert becuase Wordstar ate my 5 1/2 disk drive and I had to completely rewrite the report. I discovered shareware software and dropped Wordstar for PC-Write. I studied how to build and host a forum on Compuserve.
I deployed Zenith 248 computers in the Army and dabbled with Dbase II. I took a computer programming class and learned C on a PDP/11. I had a .mil email account. I tested and integrated modems with the German Telephone system.
After the Army I worked with Banyan Vines and built my first clone; my vice was Compuserve. I represented my employer as part of the PCWeek Corporate Partner Program, which gave me an opportunity to beta tested Microsoft 95 and Internet Explorer among other software. I saw my future in e-mail and implemented an X.400 gateway between Microsoft Exchange and Banyan Vines to talk with a Microsoft Mail Post office. Tech happens and I found myself learning about Lotus Notes, Checkpoint firewalls, HP switches and Cisco Routers.
Today I’m working with Cisco technologies in routing, switching, security and wireless networking. I play with tablets, smartphones and other gadgets and study how they can make our lives better and yet, I am constantly tired of work.
It took a trip through Tecca and the Computer History Museum to remind me of why I love all things tech. It refreshed me spirtually and prepared me for the next phase of my life. The Internet of things.
Just what a pilgrimage is meant to do.