Soon, Quayle Consulting will be 15 years old. Funny how VMS has been around exactly twice as long…
My first job was working at Fairfield Engineering. They mostly built conveyors for coal-fired power plants. The DEC PDP-11 was used as a controller for many of those systems. We had a VAX 11/780, running VMS V3.2, but it was too expensive to consider using as an “embedded” controller. Also, the VAX was huge compared to the single-board PDP-11’s.
I moved to a company making welding robots based on PDP-11’s. After a month, it went under due to poor management. It disappeared so completely that the US government couldn’t find a trace of it some years later when processing a security clearance for me.
I spent six years away from DEC stuff, working at Battelle Memorial Institute. Three Mile Island was good to me — there was a flood of government bucks to model nuclear reactor accidents (in Fortran, on CDC mainframes). When that dried up, I moved into an experimental group (and got to learn Unix on a Masscomp computer). But, just when it seemed like I’d be there forever, I got laid off. That’s when I realized that I was responsible for own life.
I eventually landed a job at CRISP Automation, doing Motorola 68000 programming. The embedded system talked over Ethernet with a VAX system. I remember VMS 4.7, and the transition to VMS 5.0. Those were fun days, working with a group of people who loved VMS and were razor-sharp developers.
CRISP Automation got bought by Square D Company. All of a sudden, we were the automation group of a company that everyone’s heard of. Of course, it couldn’t last. Square D got bought in a hostile takeover by Schneider. They made it very clear — they had their own automation group back in France, and they didn’t need one in the USA.
Before the takeover, Square D had put in a severance package of one month’s pay for every year of service (called a “poison pill” or “tin parachute”). So, when the VP’s came to explain the “future”, I jumped up and volunteered to be the first one to go.
With 5 months of pay in the bank, I started Quayle Consulting on September 16, 1992. I remember that date because I was able to be at my son’s first birthday photo shoot at Olan Mills on September 18th. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have been able to go because I’d be at work.
Quayle Consulting became a corporation in 2001 — the bigger the business, the more they insist on only working with other corporations. Silly, I know, but the paperwork was cheap and easy.
Things have been up and down. For me, “consultant” doesn’t mean “between jobs”. I wouldn’t trade this “job” for any other!