[NTLK] Autoserver: Tweet from @bryanstearns

Matej Horvat matej.horvat at guest.arnes.si
Fri Jul 19 13:05:18 EDT 2019

On Fri, 19 Jul 2019 16:28:45 +0200, Clu <drclu at swbell.net> wrote:

> So what was the Autoserver?

This is the whole story (split into paragraphs so it's easier to read):

Here's a story that I've been thinking a lot about this week: My last role  
at Apple, from 92-96, was doing builds-and-tools stuff in the Newton  
project - I built a thing called the "Autoserver" that was really 30-odd  
Quadra 950s in a closet, and every time anyone checked a file into our  
newfangled source-code control system, it'd build the Newton system for  
every language and supported hardware target, and had a few hardware  
prototypes wired up to make sure the builds booted; nowadays, you'd call  
it "continuous integration", but that's a different story.

So there's this group called the Experimental Aircraft Association, and  
they put on a big fly-in and convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin every  
summer. Thousands of people fly in for it, there are static displays of  
lots of interesting aircraft, a different world-class airshow every day,  
etc. They also do judging of homebuilt aircraft; a bunch of old guys would  
get out there with clipboards and pencils and look at 80-100 planes each  
year, judging on workmanship, and the trophies are pretty prestigious.  
Someone from the EAA called Apple and told them all this, and said that  
those judges have to put up with wind and summer thunderstorms, and would  
you please give us a bunch of Newtons to replace those clipboards, and  
send some people to help us out.

Somehow this request got to my friends Andy and Michael and I, and we  
ended up writing Newton and desktop software for data entry and  
aggregation, and went out there to help them use it. They set up a little  
run-down trailer next to the judging trailer for us, and let us ride  
around the airport on their little scooters when the judges weren't using  
them, and generally treated us like royalty. We did this for 8 or 9 years  
- we even kept doing it after we'd left Apple, and after Newton died (we  
switched to PalmPilots; somewhere in a barn outside Oshkosh there's still  
a few boxes of Newtons I someday need to retrieve, but that's another  
different story.

Oh wait, here's the point: 25 years ago, in 1994, Michael's college  
roommate's dad came to the fly in, and stopped off at our little trailer -  
we showed him our software and the judging process, and he asked a few  
questions and generally made impressed-sounding noises for our little  
project, even though I think his son had maybe oversold it a little.

And that's how I got to meet Neil Armstrong.

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