After Hours

What former tech giant do you miss the most?

Do you have fond memories of a tech company that used to stand out, but either imploded, faded out, or was dominated by another giant? If so, let us know which company you wish was still around.

IT professionals are a nostalgic bunch. Anyone who has been in IT for more than a few years has fond memories of a company that used to stand out, but either imploded, faded out, or was dominated by another giant. Some of these old companies still exist as a shadow of their former selves, others are completely out of business, and some ended up being acquired. You can almost figure out the age of an IT pro by the company that they miss the most in the "technically superior, but still lost in the market" category.

J.Ja

Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

21 comments
Bizzo
Bizzo

Do Transformers count as being "Tech Giants"?

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

The first female mecha to put her 'assets' to use. I don't miss the show/tech so much as the fact the writers were obviously having fun with the concept. We've grown too serious a a society!

neilb
neilb

I used to work for a reseller who specialised in Apricot sales into the NHS and government. I used to install the VXFT - one of the first ever 486-based boxes with the MicroChannel backplane - and put on either VXNet or Novell NetWare and then the Shogun. I had a tour round the factory in Glenrothes and I used to know all of the techies in Birmingham. I used to take a couple of crates of beer up at Christmas so I'd get top-notch phone support. As you say, happy days. :D

pbasehore
pbasehore

But I miss Amiga. They had some of the best workstations I have ever used--way ahead of their time.

Justin James
Justin James

... from former Amiga users. I've seen them, and read a bit of their history, but never actually used one. J.Ja

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

They had some great equipment at about half the cost of Big Blue. I don't remember what led up to it, but the worst thing that happened to Burroughs was being bought by Honeywell. edit: clarify

Justin James
Justin James

Dang typos! I personally ahve never worked with their equipment, but some time ago, I spenta few weeks reading the history of mainframes, and I kept cheering for them to win. :) J.Ja

j-mart
j-mart

He started with Burroughs in 1980 even to get in required passing a series of aptidude tests to see if you were cut out for this type of work. Quite a lot would have been spent on his training as he was sent to Australia France and the US. This sort of enviroment now long gone is probably why some og the "Old school" IT pros can handle just about anything put in front of them.

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

Honeywell put their sign over the door. The workforce were content with the buyout until Honeywell took their sign down about 20 months later and laid them all off. Sad thing is the Burroughs/Honeywell building is 'listed' so the memories will live long into the future.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

To be specific a brand new B3500 II with a 1MHz system clock and a whopping 512k in core! One screamin' demon in its day. It was the new mainframe in the DPC at the college I attended and was, I think, one of the first installed after New York state switched from IBM to Burroughs. I remember being told it was one of the first computers in the State U of NY system that was able to IPL from a tape drive with a single read and execute instruction, where the old IBM required the operator to enter the entire IPL instruction set from the console.

Justin James
Justin James

To this day, I think that WordPerfect 5.1, while being completely unintelligible to anyone trying to learn it, was the best word processor out there for a skilled professional. It is a real shame that people who produce documents as a profession (legal secretaries, novelists, etc.) are stuck using the current crop of word processing software. But I would be curious what the world would be like if Borroughs lasted and dominated the market that *Nix eventually took. :) J.Ja

Bizzo
Bizzo

Edit: Posted to wrong level.

CG IT
CG IT

PDP 11 was a great computer....and Wang came up with easy to use word processing program...

Justin James
Justin James

... the company I work for originally started by working with Wangs. I have a picture of my father from 1978 next to a Wang, with his hand on it and some engineers in the background smoking pipes, very Apollo 13-ish. And yes, I make the obvious bad pun on a regular basis... J.Ja

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

VMS was a good OS.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

I worked at a manufacturing firm that moved from a VMS-based MRP system to PeopleSoft hosted on a Dell architecture and Windows 2000 Server. Granted, we added some functionalities (HR, Payroll and increased Financial capabilities); but performance actually took a step back.

Jaqui
Jaqui

took me all of an hour to be comfortable with it. took less than a day for have most of the function key options memorised. But I do agree, it was the best word processing applications around for professional use. Corel did continue it, in the Corel Office suite you know, though they did make it far more like word and ruined it in doing so.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

WP51 was almost required for legal offices during the 80s/90s. The offices I know of set it up with the proper formats and templates for legal documents and have seen no need to change since. I updated my will in 2005 and watched the clerk cut, paste, and type in WP51. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find that it's still [u]the [/u] word processor in the legal community.

Justin James
Justin James

WP 5.1 is no longer the legal industry standard, but it was still in usage well into the 90's. Corel (and Novell) both did their part to kill it as a professional grade tool in the persuit of chasing Word's market. The company I work for makes software to help law firms work with documents, so I get to hear about these things on a regular basis. J.Ja