Tryst with Apple
One of the most daring things that I have done is to get married, even before I got my first job in early 1992. As I have written once, I got hitched to Radhika when I visited Hyderabad for a casual summer vacation while doing MS in India in 1990. Radhika joined me in US a week before I graduated, and I did not even had started looking for a job. It is way before DOT COM, so it’s not like prospective employers were lining up for me in the school to grab me. I did not know the term ‘recession’ in 1990s, may be because I did not watch TV during my MS and also did not read much of the newspaper either (which typically used to weigh couple of pounds and costing one tree). Decades later, I learnt that I graduated at the time of a mini recession.
There were very few ISVs where I could apply for a job. There were no online job portals such as Monster. So the usual process was to collect addresses of prospective employers from various sources (magazines, and other databases), and/or go through few headhunters in town. I collected over 1000 physical addresses of employers to send my resume via US Postal Service. I prepared my resume on a Macintosh in University of Houston computer science lab (where my cousin and friend was studying). Good effort was spent in writing a cover letter, selecting a fine paper to print the resume, and using auto label generate feature to print 1000’s of addresses. Radhika helped sort and stuff cover letters into the envelopes and mail them. 10% of the mails bounced as addresses were wrong or company moved/closed, few acknowledged saying they don’t have a job for an IT graduate, and got couple of interviews but they were unsure of the process of hiring someone who is on a F1-PT (Student on a Practical Training, which is called as OPT these days) visa.
Few weeks later my cousin got a call from a headhunter, asking if he knew how to administer bunch of Macintoshes on an Apple Talk network. He said NO and asked me if I knew what it is. Like a typical desi, I bluffed saying, YES I can do it. I was confident because I had spent good time on Macintosh machines in the university lab during MS. Job offer was from oil industry giant, Texaco. I went for the interview at Texaco in South West Houston. IT manager (who was going on a paternity leave for few months and wanted a temp to fill his role) asked me few questions and gave me the job paying me $8/hr. So, I got the role of System Administrator for TEXACO’s EPTD Research Center, as my first job. Luckily the activity to be performed was well scripted and I could master it with some ease. It involved installing layered software, updating the operating system & system software, configuring new users on AppleTalk networks, performing DBA role, handling storage media, taking care of back-up, and some network monitoring & end user support for Apple users (who were mostly graphics designers on state of the art Macintosh machines at that time). As told by the IT manager, this job did not last for more than few months, but gave a great break into the industry.
Within a week, I found my second gig (where I got paid $18/hr) and it also involved tryst with another innovation from Steve Jobs, i.e., NeXT box. I was considered fortunate for many reasons, for actually getting a well paying job in tough times (and it was credited to my wise decision of switching to computer science from Civil as day after I had touched down in US 3 in 1988), and opportunity to work on NeXT. I was hired as objective C developer for Wiltel Communications and it involved developing internal application for WilTel using NeXTSTEP Interface Builder (first ever drag and drop UI kit), in addition to developing NMS objects for larger WilTel project where mission was to build GUI for NEC’s ATM switch. It also involved developed multiple database interfaces using DBKit objects with SYBASE RDBMS as the backend database. It was lot of fun and one of the Enterprises out there, which adopted NeXT framework, as CEO of WilTel who was a biker and an ardent fan & follower of Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, WilTel did not have a process/policy in place to sponsor me for H1, so I ended up leaving them after 9 months to move to Schlumberger where I worked next 3 years doing GUI work using X-Windows and Motif.
BTW, my blogs’ intention wasn’t to reproduce part of my resume here, and I am not looking for a job via this blog :). But ‘JOBS’ movie re-kindled several memories from 1990’s and wanted to document it for reasons not yet not known to me at this time.
I started owning Apple products beginning with the iPod, and iPhone during this millenium, and starting using Mac Air and Mac Book as official / personal computers over the last 4 years and no brainer to say that I love it. Recently an year ago, I purchased AppleTV, which brought me closer to watching newer Hollywood movies with lot more ease (from luxury of being in India), and Time Machine which keeps me less paranoid as my data is always backed up when I am around home
Here is my review of recent movie on Steve Jobs (with few spoilers)
JOBS movie starts in 2001 where he introduces iPod to his team in his internal conference room. Then it goes back to 1974, documents his rise to becoming a legend, the famous launch of 1984 ad campaign for Apple 2, getting fired by the CEO (John Scully) whom he himself hires, starting NeXT, no mention about Pixar, being invited again to become interim CEO, firing his board and retaining major right, design of stylish iMac, and then movie abruptly end. There are popular events that most of us know of about Steve are shown, but not all of them are stitched seamlessly so one can easily jerks in story. However, most techies out there should love the movie. If you are aware of technology trends in last 30 years, you will become very nostalgic seeing those events in the movie. Anyone who loves the story of rise of an under dog, ought to love it too. Since movie ends abruptly it gives an incomplete feeling. I loved the movie despite several things that could have been done to the scripts to make it an epic. I wished this movie were an hour longer. Movie did inspire me to write my tryst with Apple in a blog, beginning my first job in Houston around 1991 as AppleTalk admin for $8/hr, and as NeXTSTEP developer using Objective C
I am looking forward to for next biopic on Steve Job, which is based on official biography.
Few snaps from the past (graduation, from school of computer science during MS)
My buddy from Computer Science class