1983 MITS / Pertec Computer Corporation

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MITS / Pertec Computer Corporation - 17032 Armstrong Avenue • Irvine, California 92614 - At the age of 18, I'd been consulting for a few years; I was getting pressure from the parents to "get a real job" and not just consult. I figured 6 months or a year wasn't exactly short term or flakey (for a teenager), but I took it to heart and was going to try for something "more stable". I tried to find an employed position, but it was harder than I thought: companies would pay me more as a consultant (based on experience), but they wanted to hire based on pedigree (Degree). I was willing to "start at the bottom" and work up; and "the bottom" turned out to be in QA (Quality Assurance) at Pertec. Hey, I'd try anything once, and things I liked more than once, so why not?


The first "personal" computer was by MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems), and their ALTAIR 8800. MITS was acquired by Pertec. Pertec made peripherals; floppy drives, tape drives, instrumentation control, and so on. They were making a 68000 based super micro-computer; a multi-user micro. I figured this was great, a hot computer, and working for a piece of Americana. And I'd done some hardware QA and QC at Brunswick; so why not try Software QA? I gave that a try.

Quality Assurance is a bit of an oxymoron, as quality is never assured. I spent a lifetime doing Software Quality Assurance one summer. After that, my dealings with QA, and appreciation for what they do has never been the same.


The long and short of it was that I worked really hard at making it work, but I wasn't motivated to "just" do Q.A. I wanted to code and help the company make good products more directly.

I could out code most of their coders, but corporate politics were such that I'd never be allowed to code. This flabbergasted me, at the time, but over time I sort of got it. The team I worked for wanted me to do Q.A., anything else was "beyond my duties". The team wanted to work for, didn't want a "spy" from Q.A., or someone that had ties in other parts of the organization, or hadn't gone through the same pain to get in that they felt they had. I hadn't paid my dues yet, so they were going to turn down a good opportunity; to get a motivated coder at bargain basement prices. Hey, it happens.

They say that even animals know not to shit where they eat; or in less vulgar words, that you shouldn't date out of the office pool. I'm not one to learn lessons the easy way; so I tried it. Twice. In all honesty, when you are a work-a-holic, or just a modern person that works a lot, how are you going to meet people? Especially when you are a consultant that switches jobs every few years. In both cases, I left the job before I left the girlfriend, so it was fine while I worked there. But in one of the cases, when we broke-up she went a little nutso stalker for a while... and it certainly would have been awkward/unpleasant if we had both worked at the same place. So I learned that lesson, without ever having to learn that lesson the hard(er) way.



I learned a lot about companies. Working up in some organizations can be a very long and tedious process or politically imprudent. Generally, it is easier to hold out for what you want before you go in, rather than to try to shift after you get in. Or at least, only accept a job that is something you'd be happy doing indefinitely; even if it isn't what you ultimately want to do someday. Now this isn't true for all companies, but it is for some - and I was a lot warier after that. I also learned not to take a job based on what others thought I should be doing. Not settling has been tough at some times, but it has made me a better employee for the organizations I have worked for. And when I've gone in, it was full force.

One other key learning is that if you have a centralized paging system, you should make Mike Hunt and Richard Tingles (who goes by "Dick") to change their names. Ever time those guys got paged, I couldn't stop from giggling.

I helped one friend (JTP, "Jim-the-Pervert") get a job here (working in shipping/stocking).

It was still a good experience; to have in my past. I kept bumping into these people, and others, around in the area over the years. I also learned that the industry is small. Even though I left, they fully understood why, and knew that I was a hard worker; so I'd got good references over the years. I was really mad and frustrated at the time, but I'm glad that I didn't burn a bridge or vent on my way out. They were professional to me, and I was to them, and I don't regret that at all.


Written: 2003.05.05