Early in my efforts to document the creative environment where great technology projects happen, I reached out to Ray Ozzie. Ray is of course a software industry legend, today the Chief Software Architect of Microsoft, in addition to having been the father of Lotus Notes.
Ray very graciously answered some questions about both the physical space and (most important, to me), the soundtrack of a roomful of hackers in 1985:
We went to a used furniture store and bought the CHEAPEST crappiest (but strong) fold-out tables, with strong/comfortable chairs.
We spared no expense on massive whiteboards that covered the walls.
Tim [Halvorsen] & I are messy-desk people – listings and scrawlings everywhere. Len [Kawell] if I remember was an organized-desk person.
If I remember correctly, soon after we opened the office Sony came out with this amazing new thing called the “CD Player” – the Sony D5. We bought one, with some awesome speakers.
We bought everything that came out in those early CD days; Dire Straights was big. Since we all knew each other from college, lots of our college favorites.
But if there were ANY “theme music” for me, it would have been Stevie Ray Vaughan. Texas Flood, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Soul to Soul, all big big big. Played over, and over, and over. Blasting.
It’s a terrific, evocative image of a bunch of creators doing what they love in a place that feels comfortable. Some links for background:
- A fond reminiscence of early Sony CD players, including the D5.
- A somewhat-sanitized official history of Lotus Notes from IBM.
- Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits signature album and one of the most popular albums of 1985.
- Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s Texas Flood, Couldn’t Stand the Weather and Soul to Soul, the blues guitarist’s career-defining releases from 1983, 1984 and 1985.