Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

There Were Giant Flying Businessmen in Those Days

One of the side effects of choosing the name "Solaris" for our OS is that we share it with several other companies in unrelated fields: sunglasses, snack bars, roofing shingles and the like--and the book, of course. I hear there were even movies.

Just for fun, I collected a few images of these on our Facebook page in the album "Sorry, Wrong Solaris," and other people have sent in additional ones over time.

Last night, my cohort Rick Ramsey, he of BigAdmin-which-is-now-OTN-Garage, sent me another one: a Brazilian construction equipment leasing company. "Huh," says I. "Perhaps not the same strong connection to operating systems as, say, a bus company, but let's take a look."

Hmm, what's this?


It turns out this particular "Solaris" company was responsible for doing the site preparations for Cirque du Soleil as they toured South America. And, that tent... there's a SPARC/Solaris connection, there.

Enter Ultra Man

Here we are, hours away from a major SPARC/Solaris-based product event. Those of you who have been kicking around the industry for a while may remember that way back in November 1995, Sun had another event: the launch of Sun's first 64-bit SPARC processor, UltraSPARC.  And especially back then, events like that needed an interesting venue.

Someone's great idea: what if we held it in a really big tent?  And who's got a big tent they don't happen to be using at the moment?

...Cirque du Soleil did! This is one of their tents, set up for the launch event in the parking lot of the then-brand-new Sun Menlo Park campus (alumni will recognize the fitness center in the background). The story about how this event was set up and executed is fascinating, at least to a computer industry/show biz geek like me; leveling out an area and setting up a huge circus tent to hold a one-hour press event with 1,500 people in attendance, then tearing it down again immediately. And the industry hadn't even made it to dot-com madness yet.

The logo for the event was "Ultra Man" (not to be confused with "Ultraman"), "a man, stylized, bespectacled, business suited, legs tapering into flames of rocket fire as if he were launched from a cannon."


That would be he.

There was even a guitarist opening the event, a former Sun employee who knocked it out of the park. What was frustrating to me personally was that this all happened literally days before I moved to Northern California, so I had to settle for watching it via closed circuit TV. Webcast? Yeah, didn't really have those back then, so we instead had satellite downlinks to various Sun offices, which hosted local viewings of the event. That did make it more of a social thing.

As I add this to the Facebook album, the final bit of serendipity, as many of you may already be thinking, is that the site of this 1995 event is today in fact the Facebook headquarters campus.

Today's event isn't going to be quite so elaborate; we've already got a perfectly useful conference center to hold it in. But even if we don't have giant flying bespectacled businessmen waiting in the wings (that I know of), the product news should be very interesting. I don't know if either Larry or John play guitar.

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