From Hyperconnectivity To Social Networking

I will be retiring on April 10 after 37 years in Nortel. The decision was actually made pre-filing, but I decided to stay on to participate in one last VoiceCon, my swan song so to speak.

I have spent my career help create networking for a hyperconnected world.

Back in the 70s (what I called my pioneering years), when the world was circuit switched and flat, and when the ARPAnet was running on minicomputers over 4.8Kbps lines (not a typo), I was part of the team mandated to develop a carrier-grade packet switch that could support 56 Kbps trunks. This created the opportunity to interact with some of the networking visionaries of the time: Vint Cerf, Larry Roberts, Louis Pouzin, Derek Barber to name a few. Nortel delivered a switch that could handle 10 packets per second, but test equipment of the day could only measure 1 packet per second! Remember, the IBM PC came in the next decade!

One highlight was writing a technical paper (co-authored by Bell, France Telecom, Telefonica and Telenet) that was accepted by the IEEE Communications Conference and the National Computer Conference a month later. This was the start of IT Convergence.

We have all experienced the enormous technology changes that have occurred over the years. Let me illustrate this in dollars per bit terms. Back in the early 80s, I built an Apple II clone. Memory was a huge chunk of the cost, all 48 Kbytes of it. Last year, I received a 1Gig USB memory stick (a standard give-away these days) for speaking at a Microsoft OCS launch event... in early 80s dollars, this was worth $250,000,000. Wow!

I will now leave it to others to create applications that live in this hyperconnected world, like the web.alive application that I demo'ed at the Nortel booth (nothing like working the booth at a trade show... one last time).

Interestingly, my retirement has entered the social networking space, in the form of a blog by Rich Tehrani who attended a surprise dinner Nortel threw for me at VoiceCon earlier this week. Also attending were several Nortel execs and four leading industry analysts. Rich is my mentor at TMC and always has his camera handy. It was a lovely evening with lots of shared memories and a great send-off.

O yes, dear reader, while the joy of retirement comes from not having any plans, I do plan to continue this blog.

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