tsJensen

A quest for software excellence...

Captain Zilog - Redux

Nothing like a great laugh to perk up your day. Stumbled onto this Captain Zilog on computerhistory.org today. Take a moment and read it. What happened to those good old days? Did the dolldrums of reality take over?

"Systems designer Nick Stacey works late into the night, unknown to him, a small eerie comet passes overhead..."

"I am known to men as...opportunity! I give you the key to man's destiny in a brave new world!"

"It is the beginning of a new freedom for man's imagination! It is a microprocessor! I bestow upon you all of the knowledge that goes with it, but use it wisely! Now, go!"

Corny? Yes. Prescient? Definitely. It was 1979. I was in junior high school. It was the battle of the little, inventive, hungry geek vs. the titans of business with deeper pockets than I could imagine. It was an epoc battle that went to the best and the brightest, not to the most powerful. Or so it seemed. But as a kid, I was only barely aware of the war that raged in the world of technology in those days. To me, it was just an exciting time of change.

Now, change is more terrifying because I have responsibilities. I have four kids, a mortgage and car payments. Just like everybody else I know. And a lot has changed in the last couple of months. And it's been terrifying. And exciting. Two days ago, I blogged about the ethics of meta-searching. It came as a shock to others involved in the project because I had not discussed it with them. I blindsided them. That was fundamentally unfair. And yet, even had I wrung my hands over the issue and discussed it with them, it would probably not have changed the end result. Things changed. And it scared the heck out me. Some of them are probably still angry with me. I don't blame them. I would be too.

Looking back to the days of Captain Zilog made me laugh. It also made me think. Zilog is not a player in the huge PC market. But it's still alive and from all appearances, it's doing well. They innovated. They struggled. They stayed alive and ultimately found a niche market that has served them well. Are they comparable to giants like Intel and Microsoft? No way. But did they survive? Did they make money. I'm guessing that they must have given the fact that they're still around and still selling the Z8 line.

So what is our challenge? We must find a way to survive. Find a way to innovate something truly useful. Believe in that thing. Work hard to make that thing succeed, even if it's in a market you had not originally foreseen. In other words, we must adapt without losing a sense of who we are or what we've created. Time will tell if we, as technologists and entrepreneurs will do just that.