IBM Archives
News Page

Looking for something? Check the Site Map
Help children know about Jesus.

Working Environments at IBM

Jet Pilot - 1977-1979

At the Lexington plant, in Jet Pilot engineering, we were in modules that had two engineers per module. There were two walls on each side and a 7' high wooden partition between two modules, so you could hear people in the adjacent module talking and if people were smoking in their module, the smoke could roll over to your module. Yes, people smoked right there in the office. Those were the days, heh?

Most everyone wore ties, at least the degreed engineers did. Some the technicians didn't. Some of those guys were the smartest ones around. I remember they could the hex programs that the Jet Pilot printer was programmed with. When I saw a guy doing it (scanning this page of hex codes) I thought he was goofing around and trying to fool me. But then I realized he really was reading the stuff. Amazing. I guess if you work with it enough, you learn the patterns and can read the hex.


In Jet Pilot engineering, I guess I packed my lunch or went out to lunch. Since I didn't have much money, I think I was packing lunch for a while at the beginning. IBM had a really good cafeteria but I very seldom ate there. Even when I went over to Facilities engineering and the cafeteria was just around the corner from my office, I didn't eat there. In retrospect, I really don't know why.

Facilities Engineering

In facilities we had movable partitions that made up cubicles just big enough for one guy and his drawing board and a built in desk and drawers. The partitions were about five feet tall so if you stood up you could see all around the area, and anyone else that was standing up. The partitions and furnishings were relatively new so the environment was much nicer than what I had in Ink Jet, although it really didn't matter to me.

The start and stop times were on 12 minute intervals so as to minimize traffic into and out of the parking lot. I started at 7:36 and got off at 4:36. For a while, we stood in the doorway of our modules with our jackets on waiting for the clock to hit 4:36. The management didn't like this and let us know.


In facilities I started going out to lunch with Don and Lee. In the summer sometimes we'd stop for an ice cream cone. I always got a chocolate dipped cone and told them you had to know what

IBM Mansfield

I started in the Mansfield office in April, 1987. The PC had been created (I owned one) but we didn't have them at work. Everyone still had 3279 terminals. We had a big printer in the same room with the copier. Everyone's print went to that printer. We printed pages from the sales manuals and anything that got printed got printed on that printer... proposals, system configurations and overhead "foils."

Announcement letters came to us printed, as did product brochures. We had file cabinets full of brochures for various products. When you wanted some brochure to give to a customer, you had to go look through the cabinets to see what you could find. If there was some particular product you were often trying to sell, a System36 for example, you might keep some copies for the brochure in your own desk drawer.

Orders were processed by the administrative people there in the office. We had three or four people who processed orders, plus a manager who managed them and the secretaries. We had three secretaries plus a receptionist.

Of course everyone wore suits. Dark suits, pressed white shirts, sincere ties and wing tip shoes. I spent my first month's salary on clothes when I transferred into sales. I don't think I owned a suit I could wear on the job. I always said they didn't have a dress code, but if you broke it they sure as heck would let you know.

I heard of a guy who wore a very pale blue shirt to a city wide meeting in Detroit and one of the executive speakers pointed at him in the audience and said, "Who let the bus driver in?"

Going to lunch

Having our office in downtown Mansfield gave us the opportunity to go lunch at a lot of different places. And we did enjoy going to lunch and

Working Upstairs

Some of the sales people sat downstairs (the more senior people) and some of us sat upstairs. The managers sat down stairs. This seemed cliquish, rather than pragmatic. After all, the more senior people should need the managers less - should be able to sit upstairs by themselves, but they didn't, so it really amounted to a clique of managers and senior people. Us dummies sat up stairs by ourselves - exiled I guess. We weren't treated that way, its just that the seating arrangement made it look that way.

For the most part, I liked being upstairs out of sight of the managers. In the summer sometimes it got hot. Someone had written a Speakup and then on this one particularly warm day, someone mentioned downstairs that they were inclined to write a Speakup. In short order, a manager (who'll I'll not name) showed up with ice cream. It tasted good but what we wanted was the air conditioning to be fixed. Bob Guisinger eventually got moved upstairs. When he did, it wasn't long before he was complaining saying that he was wearing his knees out going up and down the stairs.

After a year or two, they remodeled and moved everyone downstairs and I wound up right in front of the managers' offices. It really wasn't that bad except when you really wanted to goof off.

Mansfield Home Office

A couple of times I had really funny things happen while I'm working there in my office in the basement and I had no one to share them with.  I taped a couple of hilarious e-mails to the back of my office door. I'm sure I told them to Connie, but it would be more funny to share them with a co-worker, but there wasn't any co-worker in my home office.


When I started working from home, Connie informed me that she wasn't going to be making my lunch. No problem.. I can fix my own lunch. I know one guy that works at home that goes out every day for lunch. I don't. I eat in the kitchen and listen to Rush Limbaugh.