Intel Headquarters (aka SC4)
1983-1984
Greg Bryant



I was hired into Intel as a Unix guru with microprocessor expertise --
by a sharp, and ultimately successful, insurgent group at Intel's 
Santa Clara 4 headquarters. Like many rebel groups, they had comrades 
among the oppressed people, and even some secret supporters up 
the management ladder.

This and many other tempests in a teapot took place mostly on the second floor
of a rather small two-story building. The tempest had world-changing consequences 
only because of the vast monies and energies focused on this particular engine 
within the computer industry. The executives who founded Intel were not 
influential because they were 'better'. On the contrary. They'd been seduced by
the drive to 'win' and took extreme advantage of technological and financial 
opportunities. They built armies and served the imperial establishment towards 
that end, no matter the cost to the world. They sucked up the brightest people 
and nature's precious resources for nothing but power and profit, justified
by delusions of human progress. That's the nature of extreme capitalism which,
at that point, had already been extreme for a hundred years.
And today, it's burning everything.

Gordon Moore, famous for setting the pace for this destruction, was the CEO,
and he would stalk the floor restlessly. He would regularly pull a mildly 
displeased face at me for purposefully not wearing my badge ... but he would
not tell me to put it on. At that point, he wasn't completely sure if badges were
a sufficiently important issue to lose a good engineer over. That would change.

Everyone there was working too hard. And they suffocated in an impossibly
bureaucratic, autocratic, and sterile office-political atmosphere. It was 
managerial, hirearchical, irrational, and dull. Unions were forbidden, and
co-operation, even for the good of the company, was covert. There was a 
patronizing, soul-sucking marketing campaign to teach everyone the 'Intel culture'.
Creativity, innovation, opportunity, and humanity, were stifled at every turn.

Luckily, some of my co-workers agreed with this assessment: that secret rebel group.
The engineering challenges were certainly consuming. We found a new way of producing 
microprocessors, while stitching together the computers to do the work. The 80386 
wouldn't have been buildable without Unix -- itself a covert project within a different
tyrannical corporation -- as well as countless notions borrowed from the world of software.
This required tireless, diligent reasoning, systems-engineering, and bug-killing.

Here's a typical email from one of the rebels: a 22-year-old Pat Gelsinger.
I was kind of a technical consultant for a corporate-wide migration of engineering
to Unix, pushed by the rebels. I was constantly spouting ideas, making observations, 
and debating within this nauseatingly unproductive and unsubtle environment promulgated 
by the executive management: 'constructive confrontation'. Which was just confrontation, 
and not constructive. Still, it wasn't hard for us to win these arguments, because
we were simply borrowing various successful approaches to applying software tools,
and deploying them to examine the nature of chip engineering. But much of my time at
Intel was spent working with Gelsinger to cobble together a custom heterogenous
network of Unix machines to improve our computing environment, to move this 386/'P3'
project forward:



Although there were some brilliant people at Intel, the insanity of the organization
itself drove me crazy by osmosis. I resigned in the middle of an additional
storm of stupidity from the outside, when IBM had decided that 32-bit computers
(including the 386) were overpowered for desktop machines, and so they wouldn't be 
using the chip at all! The ideas of program compatibility that we advocated, borrowed 
from practice in the Unix world (I was a C portability consultant) were not yet on the 
radar of the establishment executives.

Desperate, Pat Gelsinger and three senior rebels took me out to lunch and begged me 
to start a super-rational company, building 32-bit machines with the 386 that could 
run all known software, and then to hire them away from Intel. They were appealing
to various arguments I'd made over my time there, including the need to avoid
proprietary software dead-ends. But deep down, they just thought I'd be a fun CEO, 
because I don't believe in managing people.

But I asked: Why help Intel out of its stupor? Why take advantage of an obtuse IBM? 
Why promulgate computing at all? It's a dirty business, making chips and boxes, despite
its cultivated un-industrial image. We were all fighting the industry, but not to stop
it, but out of frustration because we were at the bottom, and the people at the bottom
know better than the people at the top. We were drawn to the technical problem of making
'business people' and former engineers into rational actors. Was that worthwhile?

Also, based on the examples I'd seen, I felt I might become a worse person if I was
to become a CEO.

So I said no.

The rebel project ultimately became the most influential computer chip in history:
the 80386, the microprocessor inspired by software practices.

And, after several exits and returns, Pat Gelsinger is CEO of Intel now.