I’m just old enough to have cut my teeth in early days of the web, which means I got to watch what was then called “multimedia” morph into a fledgling Internet industry. The South Park area of San Francisco, then known as Multimedia Gulch, had recently gone bust betting that CD-ROM would deliver the revolution the web was about to. My first web job was with a cable provider experimenting with the web after realizing it might make their glacial interactive set-top box projects irrelevant. My boss was an ex-photographer who “was in multimedia when it had a hyphen.”
One day snooping in the basement I discovered a cache of indigo-colored Silicon Graphics machines stacked ignominiously like used pizza boxes. I was a big enough Jurassic Park fan to know that these were $10,000 workstations used for high-end computer graphics, and here they were lying fallow–relics of some long-forgotten cable interactive project. Thanks to SGI’s abysmal security, I was able to crack root on one and kept it around–though it served mainly as a desk ornament. Soon, SGI’s failure to roll with their market’s shift from workstations to servers would make the company itself a relic, its enormous headquarters now occupied by one of the web’s emerging powers: Google.
Buzz Andersen is a 20 year tech industry veteran and co-founder of Brooklyn Computer Club, a small NYC-based iOS development consultancy.