Lockheed Prepared Me Well

It seems like a lifetime ago now, but I left Lockheed in 1998. That was just about time the start-up craze was hitting is full stride. I’m not going to tell that story here.

Instead, I’m reflecting on how things were done at the “lazy-L” – that’s one of a few pejorative terms some people used to describe one very large government contractor, way back in the ’80’s and ’90’s. By the time I joined the Information Services department, I might have been inclined to agree. Things moved pretty slowly, sometimes. Crossword puzzles and pinochle with co-workers helped to pass the time, and my vocabulary improved somewhat as a result.

In 1988, I was fortunate enough to join the group that did computer support, and everything changed for me. My job was to connect dumb terminals and printers to a mainframe computer. 280px-IBM_704_mainframe[1]If you don’t know what that is, it’s a computer that requires at least as much space as an average living room, a very cold environment, a ton of power, and a full time staff of at least dozens, just to keep it humming. Today, you carry around that much processing power in your average laptop. Your cell phone may have more capability than some of the earlier models. But I digress – I was so happy! Delivering the gift of computing power to people made every day like Christmas for me, where I was the bearer of good tidings and joy.

Today I had an occasion to remember that every terminal and printer required a “green tag” to detail its system ID and other details about how it was connected to the mainframe. On this tag was this warning – something like: “If you plan to move this device, please notify Information Services 180 days in advance.” That’s not verbatim, but you get the picture. There was a whole lot of planning and coordination to be done prior to plugging in a dumb terminal or printer in a new location. This is just one of many fascinating facts that could probably bore you to death before finish reading this article. So, I’ll wrap it up very soon.

Of all the things that happened during my tenure at Lockheed, one of my fondest memories is standing on a platform, looking down into a “clean room” at the Hubble Space Telescope. Those days, we didn’t have a smart phone with a camera in our pockets, otherwise, I’d be posting that picture here for you, instead of the link to a PDF file in that last sentence. HST_Lockheed_Integration[1]

And, by the way, if your phone did not have processing power, you could think of it as a wireless connected dumb terminal, with the cloud as its mainframe!
Imagine we have come full circle….

Enjoy! I know I did and still do.