Wednesday, October 08, 2003

AT&T War Stories (1985) #2, Rare Boards:

In 1985, the first year people say AT&T lost a billion in the computer business, I was managing an AT&T demo for a trade show. We were using special AT&T-built (that is, nonstandard) PCs, and we needed six high resolution graphics boards for our demo. These boards were new and rare as hens’ teeth. I was given the name of the AT&T guy doling them out and warned it would be nearly impossible to get some. I went to see him. Like most AT&T employees he was on the phone, a long call. I sat in his office and studied a big poster on his wall displaying part of the orchestral score (chorus and orchestra) for an AT&T advertisement. I can read music scores, so I did. When he got off the phone we talked about the score. It was part of an ad he had developed for AT&T; he was very proud of it and delighted by my interest. Then I braced myself and asked him for his rare graphics boards, preparing to justify my need as strongly as I could. But he immediately answered “sure” and I walked out of his office carrying my boards. This is unfair, I said to myself. These boards have to be carefully apportioned according to each project’s value to AT&T. I don’t deserve these six boards. But I sure didn’t give them back.