Bits and Bytes
Jan 9, 2013 - 7:48:48 PM
Remember the wild and wooly days of the semiconductor industry? When both specifications and expense accounts were loose?
Back, back, back in the day - the semiconductor industry was different. Leading-edge was everything, cores were different and competition was fierce.
Now, I've always said that learning the semiconductor industry as an FAE for a disti, is like learning medicine as a surgeon for a M*A*S*H unit. In the beginning I was Radar, but I became Hawkeye. I knew a few Frank Burns. It was fun - we worked hard, played harder. The salesmen enjoyed showing me the ropes; experienced salespeople love showing off what they know, and the Time guys were (mostly) the best.
Now, as an FAE, employed by Time Electronics, I was dedicated to the National Semiconductor product line. This meant that National was paying Time for part of my salary. It was also sort of a control thing. But I also got to fly to Santa Clara for the annual National Semiconductor Field Applications Engineering Convention. In 1989 is was held at the Hyatt in Santa Clara, FAEs from all over the country world! Charlie Sporck, still the CEO, gave the opening address. It was an omen of things to come when Charlie emphasized, over and over, that we had to look for short-term opportunities.
Aside from the classes on serial interfaces, networking, Ethernet, the latest microcontrollers, etc. I had the honor to finally meet the late, great Abdul Aleaf. Abdul was a kind gentle soul, an apps engineer for National. I spoke to him often. When I started working for Time I had seen the COP8 in National's linecard and on one telephone call I asked Abdul, "What's a microcontroller?". His passing in 2012 was a loss for all of us - he was one of the greats in the microcontroller industry.
Classes, friendship, and beer. Lots of beer. And skits! The last day, we had skits and some of the National Semiconductor FAEs put on some real entertaining stuff. The life of an FAE is pretty brtual, There's a lot of satisfaction, and you also get the crap kicked out of you a lot. Usually it's your own factory doing the kicking. One of the skits best illustrated this with the following song:
THERE IS A HOUSE IN SILICON TOWN