Mini Legacy

I opened the NYT and read about Ken Olsen, 84 and J. Paul Getty III, 54 (their stories were on opposite pages). A lot can be accomplished in the extra 30 years that drug overdose took from someone. Mr Olsen managed to trim down then IBM mainframe into a DEC mini-computer. In today’s terms, it would be akin to liberating us from a desktop with a smart-phone.

Had we died 30 years earlier, we would have experienced only the punch cards .

America was watching Rocky or Rambo (played by the same actor). Lots of muscles and lots of rage (“cut me” “where they call Hell, I call Home”).

Had my life ended that year, I would never have had a chance to venture with some friends to Hong Kong refugee camps just to help out survivors at seas (Jubilee). As of this edit, some are at it again, this time, destination Australia.

I remember President Reagan firing the air traffic controllers and turning the Cold War into Star Wars (shield). It’s a decade of “you can’t handle the truth” (arms- for- hostage deal).

So in a span of 30 extra years, we built cars that were bigger and computers smaller.

Our “habits of the heart” led us from “bowling alone” to “friending everyone”.

Just last Sunday, thanks to technology and networking, a friend  from Jr high called me out of the blue. Decades had passed in between. In 81, we  put up with the Culture Club and the Breakfast Club. Madonna and Jane Fonda, both wore underwear outside, aerobics or not. It’ s a “born to run” hyphen to link “born to be wild” and “born this way” (Gaga and Armani now team up to bring bed-room couture to show room everywhere).

And instead of G.W. Bush with his Decision Points, we got Carter, penning and pondering the should-have-been back-up helicopter ( botched hostage rescue attempt). This reminds me of hundreds of abandoned choppers on Vietnam War last days.

America and its wavering confidence (Day 444 of Iranian hostage etc…). Opportunity in crisis for Reagan and the Alpha Male.

“frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (his actual line: ” Tear down that wall!”).

BTW, 30-year time also consolidated an Egyptian reign, witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union- gun factory and the rise of China -toy factory. While the chip set doubles its speed every 18 months, the world as is couldn’t keep up with Moore’s Law. We wish we had seen it coming, like Mr Olsen, who insisted that a mini version of the mainframe would sell (to researchers and engineering firms etc….). This had been counter-intuitive until, a prototype of personal computer was developed. Both Mr Olsen and the larger public then saw no use for it “in the kitchen counter” (appliance thinking).

Mr Olsen faced his own “innovator’s dilemma” personified in Steve Jobs (1984 launch of the Mac and his Second Coming in the I’s series).

Now, had Steve Jobs heeded his own advice (to stay hungry), he wouldn’t have missed the Twitter revolution. 30 years is a lot of time to process content and tinker with things. Stay hungry. Stay alert.

P.S. Donald Trump still looks the same while Donald Rumsfeld does not.


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