B52 Bomber mission

Aug 1, 2016

I flew a 9 hour training mission on B52 Bomber (https://www.wired.com/2016/04/gods-green-earth-b-52-still-service/) in July of 1976 from Fairchild Air Force Base ( http://www.fairchild.af.mil/ ) in Spokane Washington. I was a system engineer at Singer-Link, which was designing a flight simulator for B52 (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/06/us/b-52s-us-air-force-bombers.html?_r=0) at the time. The flight was a part of our introduction to the plane. B52 was already in service for 24 years at the time. It is still flying with USAF.

B52 was a part of the nuclear triad that included nuclear submarines and ICBMs that US had as a nuclear deterrent. It was designed to be a high altitude, long range bomber and with aerial refueling could stay airborne for very long times. It is powered by 8 jet engines and is massive in size and carries a very large payload. During the Vietnam war, which had just ended, it would fly from Guam for bombing runs over Vietnam. It carries two set of crews; one doing the actual flying and the other resting. Plane had three stations: pilot and co-pilot, a down stairs station for the radar and fire control and a third station in the back for a gunner. Gunner station is not accessible to the pilot during the flight.

It does not have any creature comforts at all. I rode in the radar station and was seated on what essentially was a wooden stool for the whole mission. It was freezing cold as it was the lowest point in the plane. AC intake was next to my feet and it blew very cold air up my legs. Incidentally, men’s urinal tube was next to my left year.

We flew all over western United States. We went south to Nevada Firing range and made several practice bombing runs. We were refueled in the air. After 9 hours of very uncomfortable flying we returned back to the base. Since plane had been refueled, it still had plenty of fuel. Pilot decided to do ‘touch and go’ runs. Pilots have to do a certain number of landings and take offs to stay current on the plane. After several of these, I finally had to pull my plastic bag as I could not handle it any more. This flight is probably one of the most uncomfortable thing I have done in my life.

During my Singer-Link days I had ‘secret’ security clearance and was a part of teams that designed many Air Force and Navy simulators, including E2C, F4 Phantom, F111, C130, EA6B and Tornado. I flew on several different planes during those years.

I finally left Link in 1979 after 9 years. I was itching to get in to commercial world. Silicon Valley was already a hot bed of entrepreneurship and I felt stifled working for a defense contractor which was totally decoupled from its surroundings. I had become a master of hardware design but I was not sure I would fit in the commercial world. We already had microprocessors (8080 and Z80) by then. I had no experience with them as we were only allowed to used mil-standard parts which were always a few years behind.

It took me no time to find my footing in the commercial world. By the end of 1981 I was itching to try my luck in the start-up world. I along with two friends launched Excelan as networking pioneer in the spring of 1982.

TiE annual report 1996

Feb 25, 2016

TiE’s first annual report was published in 1996.

Philosophical framework was wordsmithed by Suhas Patil, Roy Prasad​ and yours truly over a bottle of wine at Suhas’s house.

It took several revisions and precise wordsmithing to get it right!

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TiEcon 1994

Feb 23, 2016

It was not called TiEcon back in 1994. That name did not come about till 1997. But the very first public TiE conference was held on March 26-27 at The Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose. Initial thought was maybe 100 to 200 people may come – 500 had signed up by the time conference happened.Continue Reading

Steve Jobs

Feb 11, 2016

Jobs NeXT-logo-designed-by-Paul-Rand


I saw the Movie Steve Jobs on the flight back to California from Abu Dhabi. It brought back some old memories. I was present at Davies Symphony Hall on Sept 19, 1990 for the announcement of NeXt computer. If I remember right, Steve Jobs said that he already had orders for 15,000! That turned out to be a little bit of an exaggeration.

In 1992 Novell acquired USL (UNIX Systems Lab) from AT&T and became the owner of UNIX operating system. That made me the Czar of UNIX as it was I who had done the deal and USL reported to me. USL had distributed UNIX as source level product to OEMs ,who ported it to their various processors and distributed along with the hardware to their customers.

I felt the companies like Sun had a hard business model; they were doing the Sparc Chips and competing with Intel; system boxes and competing with Compaq; and doing UNIX and competing with Microsoft. And all this on a relatively low volume platform! I felt that Novell could level the playing field with Windows NT by converting UNIX into a binary product running on the same hardware as NT. In that case UNIX and NT would compete on their own merit. UNIX was a mature OS and had a very good SMP version while NT was still maturing and was only a single processor implementation.

I can’t recall the exact date but I think it was in late 1992, I got a call from Steve Jobs requesting a meeting. We agreed to meet for a dinner at Gaylords restaurant in Menlo Park. Steve liked Indian food and Gaylords was his favorite. Steve showed up with an entourage for our dinner. Gaylords already knew what Steve wanted and there was no need to order. Steve told me that I would like what he had pre-ordered.

He got to the point very quickly. What the hell was Novell up to with UNIX? I told him what we were trying to do. He got very upset and started to shout at me profanely. He said that it was the dumbest thing he had ever heard. As food started to get delivered he got very agitated as things were not to his liking. He told me that we should look at NeXT OS UI to compete with Windows UI. I told him that our focus on server side and not on the desk top side. Again he thought that was an even dumber thing and started to berate me. Then he abruptly got up and left, leaving me to eat alone and pick up the tab.

Movie resonated with me. Steve Job I remember from that night night was portrayed truly in the movie.