Last week, I’d noticed headlines about a California appeals court reinstating an age discrimination suit brought by a “Google manager”. I sort-of ignored it, because I thought it didn’t affect me in any meaningful way. Then this morning, I ran into Lauren Weinstein’s post about this and realized that the “old guy” was Brian Reid.
Hold on, I KNOW Brian Reid (or to be more specific, I know of him – he was a grad student at Carnegie-Mellon and had left the university shortly before I arrived there in 1980 (to my knowledge, we’ve never met)). Brian’s PhD thesis was based on a text processing program he wrote called “Scribe” which was the a major text processing system used at Carnegie-Mellon (it has since been supplanted by TeX). Brian had left Carnegie-Mellon to form a company “Unilogic” whose purpose was to turn Brian’s work on Scribe into a product (the first product I’ve encountered that was copy protected). The Wikipedia entry for Scribe has some details on the program and some of the controversy surrounding it.
I still use “scribe-ism’s” in my email – instead of saying <flame>(whatever)</flame>, I often write @flame(on)(whatever)@flame(off).
The thing is, I consider Brian Reid (and others who were at Carnegie-Mellon at more-or-less the same time as I was) as contemporaries – I don’t think of Brian as an “old guy” (even though he’s almost 10 years older than I am). Heck, most of the people I hang out with outside of work are in their early 50s.
And that, in turn makes me feel old :).
Carnegie-Mellon was given a license to the Scribe program due to the fact that the work was originally authored at Carnegie-Mellon, I remember at one point when the license to Scribe on one of the undergraduate computers expired (likely because of the suit mentioned on Dave Touretzky’s site here). It was NOT a fun (and may be a part of the reason why I have such a problem with subscription based software).