It was very similar to now, but also very very different…
Bob Coe once told me he did not have to interview the candidates for his Administrative Assistant position. I should simply ask each candidate to link her hands behind her head with her elbows pointing forward and walk toward the wall. If her elbows were the first part of her anatomy to touch the wall, she was eliminated from candidacy. All applicants whose breasts touched first, he would interview.
We had a Quality Director named Jim Griffin. An employee threatened to kill him once. And someone else kept pooping in his desk, really, pooping in his desk drawers (I am not kidding, who would make this stuff up?). This was not a real popular guy.
The guy who wanted to kill him came over to Mt View building 2 when he could not find Griffin in Mt View building 4. I worked in building 2. Someone from building 4 called me in my office at about 5:45 pm and said that this guy was on his way and by the way, he had a firearm. Really. So, I went to the lobby and moved the folks who were waiting there to the lunch room. Just as I was running back across the lobby to lock the front doors, the guy with the gun comes in demanding to see McNealy. I explained to him that that was not the appropriate escalation process for his complaints. No, I didn’t. I talked to the guy for about 5 minutes and he gave me the gun. The police came and arrested him. Griffin never thanked me…neither did McNealy, come to think of it. But it was my new boss’ first day on the job and she told me in that typical, passionless HR modulation that she was very impressed by how I handled it. I never liked her.
This is a list of extreme points of Earth, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than, higher or lower in altitude than, or farthest inland or out to sea from, any other locations on the landmasses, continents or countries.
AltaVista; I liked it so much that I stole the graphics took inspiration from it when building Sun’s first internal search engine:
Goodbye AltaVista. You deserved better than this. Better than the one-sentence send-off Yahoo gave you today, when announcing your July 8 closure date. But then again, you always were the bright child neglected by your parents.
The Amazing AltaVista
You appeared on the search engine scene in December 1995. You made us go “woah” when you arrived. You did that by indexing around 20 million web pages, at a time when indexing 2 million web pages was considered to be big.
Today, of course, pages get indexed in the billions, the tens of billions or more. But in 1995, 20 million was huge. Existing search engines like Lycos, Excite & InfoSeek (to name only a few) didn’t quite know what hit them. With so many pages, you seemed to find stuff they and others didn’t.
As a result, you were a darling of reviews and word-of-mouth praise. You grew in popularity. In fact, I’d say you were the Google of your time, but it would be more accurate to say Google was the AltaVista of its time. That’s because Google didn’t even exist when you were ascendant. That’s also because you help paved some of the way for Google.
It was a brief ascendency, however. You were headed upward, but your parent, Digital Equipment, didn’t quite know what to do with you. You started out as an experiment, and then got used as a poster child for Digital to prove why companies should buy super-computers.