Updated: 8/16/15; 18:44:02

pedantic nuthatch
Life in a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. B.M.A.T.C., and Etruscan typewriter erasers. Blogged by David Gorsline.

Friday, 23 April 2004

I have been following the Computer Associates follies with more than a little schadenfreude.

I worked for a small cost accounting software company that was acquired by CA (they were known as Computer Associates International back then) in 1988. We were small beer compared to some of the other companies that CA bought that year, but we did get a visit from executives who assured us that business would go on. I don't remember whether I actually met Charles Wang—I think I might have been in the same room with him once—but I did learn how to pronounce his name correctly ("wong").

In those days, CA was hoovering up utility software companies like UCCEL, who sold products with catchy names like UCC-1, UCC-2, UCC-7. When my company's staff moved into CA offices, I checked out the supply closet: there were pens with the logos of at least three other acquisitions on the shelves.

My company wrote products for Prime and VAX minicomputers (VAXen used to be made by Digital Equipment Corp., which was absorbed by Compaq some time ago). CA didn't seem so much interested in my company's maintenance revenue stream (their usual reason for an acquisition) as they were in co-opting the competition and putting us to work on maintaining its mainframe-based competing product.

And so I made a couple of trips to corporate headquarters. In the late eighties, that was a converted Grumman bus manufacturing plant in Garden City, New York, on Long Island. The main floor was a vast cubicle farm, and it was there that I first witnessed prairie-dogging, when the mainframe crashed and dozens of programmers' heads popped up out of their cubes simultaneously. I got my first taste of best-practices CICS programming in the 1980s: the horror! the horror!

I left the CA after about a year, and perhaps half of my company was still there at the time. Gary, the owner, had been kicked upstairs into a marketing job and was miserable. Larry, one of my bosses, moved to Andover, N.H. to write graphics in assembler and was very happy. Bruce and a couple other people started a consulting business to take care of our old clients that CA wasn't interesting in servicing. Susan, Julie, and Jim took jobs with our major competition in the mini market, and did very well for themselves. A couple of years after the acquisition, only a handful of the original company was still on the Computer Associates payroll.

posted: 11:16:58 PM  

If I may be permitted... Whoo-hoo! I pushed a little harder on my walk today, and I broke 39:00 for 3 miles!

posted: 3:41:32 PM  

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