The Wheel turns

The Wheel turns, and things from long ago repeat.

I spent the night at the Sheraton Harbor Island last night as part of a company event. Spending the night allowed me to skip 2+ hours of brutal freeway driving, so it was a good choice. The last time I spent the night at this Sheraton was exactly 40 years ago, in 1982. And as it turns out, that was the very event that brought me to San Diego.

I was living in Akron OH working for Goodyear Aerospace as an engineer in their high-performance computing group. Yes, there was a Goodyear Aerospace and yes, we built very high performance computers for NASA, the Navy, the NSA and others. We used a technology that one of our group invented, called SIMD, or single instruction multiple data architecture – a parallel processor. Joining that group was the reason I went to Akron after graduation, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

That spring in 1982 I was part of a team that was charged to take our latest machine, a small version of our computer, to the submarine base in Point Loma to be tested aboard a sub. We had to shrink our refrigerator-sized machine into a two foot cube so that it could fit through the sub’s hatch. It was a modern marvel, 2000 custom processors fit into a tiny, intricate cube.

So on a February morning I dug my car out of the ice and snow (a typical Akron morning), drove to Cleveland and boarded my first flight for west of the Rockies. I had never been anywhere; I was unbelievably naive.

We landed in San Diego and they rolled up the departure ramp. In those days you still departed onto the tarmac. I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was sunny, warm, and beautiful. Five hours earlier I had been in the Arctic, and now…wow! I took a shuttle just a half mile or so to the Sheraton Harbor Island, this same hotel, and my mind was blown again. The hotel sits next to a beautiful harbor full of boats.

Harbor Island Marina

This weather and location shock had a big effect on me – it was a true inflection point in my life. The trip and computer test was a success, and two years later I had transferred to our new San Diego office. Forty years later, here I am again.

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