Tuesday Nov 06, 2012

A Quarter Century of SPARC

SPARCYou might have missed an interesting milestone: the 25th anniversary of SPARC. Twenty-five years! Almost 40% of my life: humbling, maybe a little scary. When I joined Sun Microsystems in 1988, SPARC was just starting to shake things up. The next year we introduced the SPARCstation 1, which had basically triple the performance of our Motrolla-based Sun–3 systems.

Not too long after that, our competition began a campaign of “SPARC is dead.” We really distressed them with our success, in spite of our small size. “It won’t last.” “It can’t last!” So they told themselves. For a stroll down memory lane take a look at this page.

History of SPARC

I remember the sales meeting we had in Atlanta to internally announce the SPARCstation 1. Sun hadn’t really hit the big times, yet. Our much bigger competitors viewed us as an ill-mannered pest, certain of our demise. And, why wouldn’t they be certain: other startups more our size, such as Apollo (remember them?), Silicon Graphics (they fought the good fight!), and the incredibly cool Symbolics are memories.

Wait! There was also a BIG company, DEC, who scoffed at us: they are history, too. In fact, we really upset them with what was supposed to be an internal-only video production that was a take-off on Bruce Lee movies, in which we battled the evil Doctor DEC – complete with computer mice (or is that “mouses”?) wielded like nun chucks with the new SPARCstation 1 somehow in the middle of everything. The memory is vivid, but the details hazy. After all, that was almost a quarter century ago.

So, here’s to Oracle’s SPARC: still going strong after all these years.

– Kemer

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Contributors:
Rick Ramsey
Kemer Thomson
and members of the OTN community

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