A head hunter friend called me one
day back in 78 and asked if I wanted to work on the big iron IBM
systems for a while. I laughed and reminded him that I was proud of the
fact I was self taught x-jarhead with an attitude. I liked being
a Maverick and there was no way IBM was going to let a Hippie like me
near one of their big machines. I agreed to take the interview as a favor,
we had a lot of history racing sports cars. He needed to fill the last time
slot for a string of friday interviews.
He promised me I would not only see but would get to touch an IBM
Mainframe as part of the interview process, more than that, he could
not tell me, other than IBM may not want me touching their systems,
but there many ways to skin a cat. I had little choice but to go find
out out for myself, this was too crazy to be believed.
I arrived at a warehouse north west of Chicago and walked
in the side door to find myself in a body shop environment. Instead of
cars it was computers that were being sanded and painted. A crusty
Biker type put down his sander and yelled "What the Hell do you want" I
replied I was there for a job and was looking for the office. He
told me to wait next to a system staged over next to the loading dock,
he would call up to the office.
There next to the loading dock was 370/135 and Motor/Generator with all
its doors off and gates open.
When no one came for me right away I began looking it over real close.
I was fascinated by what I would later learn were tri-leads.
There were some loose ones on an open logic book which I inspected very closely.
Three wire 50ohm flat coax replacements with grounding gold ends that bridged
a gold pin and a ground plane. It looked like the entire system was hand
wired and wirewrap it was great!
Some time later a man walked up and introduced himself, I was so lost
in the spectacle of this great system. I think I grunted a greating and
pushed my inadequate resume in his direction. I started right into 20
questions! I started by asking about the flat wire coax like waveguides
that seamed to connect everything, he told me they were tri-leads.
I figured that when he saw I had no formal education I would get the
bums rush out of there so I wanted to gain as much info as I could about
After a few minutes of questions and answers he handed me a piece of
paper with a net list on it and a few tri-leads and said finish this
for me. They are several missing from this board here in the center of
the gate, find them. He then truned and walked away to take a phone
call. A few minutes later he returned and asked if I needed any help
figuring out the grid system, I said no and pointed out that I had
already found and replaced the 3 wires. To my horror he powered the
system up, as he said "lets see if it works now".
It powered up and he smiled and pointed to one of the lights that was
flashing, and told me I was hired. I could not believe my ears. I
suggested he take a look at my resume, his boss might not be so happy with
my lack of education. He told me he was all the boss I would ever be
concerned with, On the Job Training starts on monday morning.
Three days later I went out on my first 135 gig.
A trip to Philly an ICA (Intrigrated Communications Adaptor) came off
and an IPA (Intergrated Printer Adaptor) went on, two days and
back home again. This was to be a fun job.
I was instructed that when questions came up about my
background and qualifications. I was to responded with a vague
reference to my Military background, the fact I had clearance and
did mostly classified or work under non disclosure. A war story or two
almost always got me knowing nods and a smile from the questioner,
sometimes a Wow.. cool..
The FE job was good for about a year. there was a lot of travel and some
nerve racking events when things did not go so well on the first try,
but all in all, it was a good job. A year later I was transferred to a
mico computer startup project and never looked back :)
So that is the story how little old me got to play with the big iron. I
soloed on 135 and 138's for a while, than ended up on a team that
specialized in memory installs and removal on 168's.