Not An Acronym

Sun Microsystems, my erstwhile employer, a silicon valley institution, neé icon, is on the point of disappearing. Management has had the company on the block for quite a while, shopping it around for months. After an aborted sale to IBM (close call!), it appears that a couple of old friends (Ellison and McNealy) have struck a deal to avoid an embarrassing bankruptcy. Quite how successful they’ll be at that somewhat depends on the outcome of a judgement being handed down by the U.S. Government relating to the anti-trust issues around Oracle owning Java. It seems unlikely to me that they’ll do anything other than delay… unless there is another suitor in the wings driving the investigation…

All of which has got me reminiscing about my time there. When i joined the Sun it was to work on Java database connectivity, JDBC™, as part of the Java Enterprise group, which was, at the time, building what would become Java Enterprise Edition, or J2EE. It was a big deal for me – the first big company for which i’d worked, surrounded by super smart (if, at times, slightly <cough> dysfunctional…) people.

This was during the Tech Bubble (that ended rather dramatically) in 2001. Up until that pop, money appeared to grow on trees, and we all had a great time spending it. We’d do crazy things like hold group meeting in the bars like the Peppermill… sipping cocktails, served by slightly overweight girls in bunny outfits; fly to New York for a booze up, thinly disguised as a conference… stay in $500 a night hotels on Time Square. Despite all that it was an amazingly productive time. In some sense, that small team, really did change and set the direction of the industry for while. I’m proud to have been involved.

As part of my job working on JDBC™ (hang on, we’re getting there…) i was tasked with producing a new version of the API, version 3.0. For a bunch of (interesting, but esoteric) reasons this project was far more about agreeing and specifying the existing behaviour than adding anything new. Decisions made several years before really constrained most of the useful changes. If i had to do it again i’d probably attempt to sell the idea of starting from scratch. Anyway, upon completing the project i got permission to have a fleece (t-shirts are so disposable and everyday… Sun was, at the end of the 90s, the largest t-shirt producer in California!) with the following embroidered logo:

It had become a running joke that i spent most of my time having to remind people that JDBC was not an acronym for Java DataBase Connectivity… even though it obviously was, but acronyms can’t be trademarked, so the obvious was wrong, wrong, wrong. Just to make things interesting, Sun, of course, is an acronym (Standford University Networks).

Sad to see it go. Happy Cupertino memories.