Where Virtual Meets Real

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A lifetime in technology

In the summer of 1955, I got my ham radio license (K6RBF) and began a life in technology. In the sixty years since I have seen several paradigm shifts, starting with the shift to transistors (solid state devices) from vacuum tubes (empty state devices!)

In each, there was a "Tower of Babel" phase - the phase where IoT is now. That phase turns out to be the most fecund, the most fertile - it has the most opportunities. And the strangest thing: during that phase "getting it out" matters more than "getting it right"!

In 1956, I attended a Ham Radio convention in San Francisco with my father. At one exhibit there was a very large oscilloscope displaying a waveform with steep sides and a very flat top. I looked at it and said "man, dig them crazy skirts". My father said I was wrong - it was a square wave. But the exhibitor said "the boy is right". What we were looking at was the response of a 16-pole crystal filter. The base wasn't time: it was frequency. I learned the duality lesson early!

When the microprocessor came out, Motorola came to me with a beautiful 8 1/2 x 11 inch book almost two inches thick explaining everything I needed to know about their 6800 microprocessor. Intel came to me with a two page data sheet marked "Preliminary": one page with electrical specification, the second with the instruction set. But there was another big difference: Motorola said they would have the microprocessor ready in a couple of months, Intel gave me two in a plastic box.

Intel saved transistors by not accounting for the inversion. Motorola insisted on adding transistors so the data in and data out would have the same reference.

Guess who won the race? Multiply my experience by that of a couple of thousand other engineers, and you will see why Intel won - even though theirs was the most frustrating processor to work with.

And Texas Instruments got rich by supplying buffers for both.

First the Internet

As the Internet grew from its DARPA seed, I was there. There in the background, helping in its creation.

I followed the visionaries, doing what what I do best: making things work and making things that work. I enjoyed it: I like learning new technology, new ways of doing things.

Those were exciting days! The microprocessor was new, and the applications seemed endless.

Just do it!

So I did.

Now the Internet of Things

That's were we are today with IoT: "Get it out" is more important than "Get it right".

The big guys are doing it their way, trying to take the whole pie, and the little guys are getting rich tying them together.

Just do it!

So I am.


When I retired, I was asked what I wanted to do. Easy: ride my motorcycle on back country roads, hike in forests, spend time with family and friends, and play with technological toys. That last is coming together: I am re-creating myself as an "Internet Telecom Elder".

The IoT is just starting the "Resolving" phase.

I have been through this six times. I see the patterns, and I am "Zipper Resolving": bringing together winning technologies.