24 years, 364 days

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Immediately after college, I started graduate school in Mathematics in 1980. After a couple of years I decided to take a leave of absence because 1) the woman to whom I was engaged was going to start graduate school several hundred miles away, and 2) I wanted to rethink what I was doing in my career. In thinking about where to work, I decided to apply to IBM because I had worked there as a summer student. Since I was a known quantity to them, I figured I could start at a higher position and a higher salary.

The day I joined IBM was December 20, 1982. Tomorrow is my 25th anniversary with the company.

In that time I worked on optimization software for the internal telecommunications network; moved to IBM Research to work on symbolic mathematical computation, user interfaces, a compiler, and web-based scientific publishing; spent four years in the middle of my Research work finishing my Ph.D., with IBM picking up the tab; moved to the Software Group to commercialize use of XML in vertical industries; worked on web services and SOA; took a turn in Websphere marketing for a couple of years; and am now in my current gig.

Along the way I did marry that woman, and am still married to her with our 25th anniversary coming next summer. We’ve had two kids and seven cats (though not all at the same time). We’ve moved six times, getting older houses further and further north.

That is, I’ve lived and have had a variety of careers, I just happen to have worked for the same company for a pretty long time. I have no idea when I’ll retire from working in this industry and it seems like a long time from now, maybe twenty more years. When I was younger I couldn’t understand why people would retire because I was in a very academic frame of mind. Now I get the point (grin), but I think of it as more of a transition to doing something else constructive, like teaching or writing full-time.

In any case, 25 years doesn’t seem as long as it used to.


  1. Personal Computers, OS/2, Lotus SmartSuite.

    They come, they go. 25 years has been quite a ride, for IBM and for the world.

    I think IBM’s in the “Software and Related Services” business. At least, that’s where we are pigeonholed in Yellow Pages. But way out on the “Related Services” end of things. IBM sells people and hardware to perform the “Related Services”, at highly differentiated prices, depending on what the salesperson thinks he or she can get. Globally. Anything that’s profitable.

    Now, do you by any chance know any other businesses, in the same pigeonhole, who sell “Software” at highly-differentiated prices, but who are a bit short-handed to deliver the Related Services ?

    There’s a new version of IBM Lotus Symphony out, with an “Invite a Friend” feature, here
    http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/invitefriends.jspa . Someone must be real desperate to bring about a billion people on board before the upcoming ISO vote.

    The software’s free. For everyone. A “Public Service Broadcast”. Global Internet tends to reduce all the ‘old’ to ashes, and allows the Phoenix to emerge. Gets the plane off the ground, we don’t need wheels any more, wings are right for the next stage of the journey.

    Put that Quarter-Century shield on your badge tomorrow, and let’s grow.

  2. Congratulations! I’m staring into my 50th anniversary in this career (not employer) next May and it seems too short. I will have to balance the next 25 with feeling I am slowing down. I agree with the value of retirement.

    Right now it looks like you are in the wonderful time of seeing your children off to college and also expanding your participation in civic life. Do you have another campaign coming up for 2008?

    May the continuing journey be bountiful, satisfying, and adventurous.

    – Dennis

    PS: I bailed from Facebook too. The Beacon business made me crazy and I simply cancelled out and then cleared all of my browser cookies.

  3. Hey Bob,

    Congratulations !!

    25 years are a lot of time, but I guess if you break them down to events and periods, time kind of passes by… ;-)

    I hope your next 25 years will be as joyful as the first.


  4. Congratulations on the milestone, Bob. Know what you mean about thinking that a long tenure makes sense…I just can’t seem to think any other way about the future. Anyway, your work, in all those roles, has certainly been appreciated by many.

  5. Happy 25 years!

  6. Congrats Bob! Don’t forget to get that “limited duty bullseye” stamped on your badge. :)

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