This is a nostalgia trip. I was sad to see sun.com swallowed into oracle.com. It was jarring to see content that I’d been seeing for years on sun.com (Java docs mostly) on oracle.com, with a different visual style. But it was also unsettling to see a company with so much world-class technology unable to survive financially. That’s something techies and engineers should always think about.
I spent two summers – 2002 and 2004 – as an intern at Sun Labs. They had tons of cool technology round every corner, and icons like like Dan Sutherland and Whitfield Diffie walking the halls. But the thing that bowled me over was on everybody’s desks – the Sun Ray thin terminal. It’s a concept that even today doesn’t have an implementation as good.
It was a network terminal. Your files and entire session were on the server. Your “local” terminal consisted only of a network interface and enough compute power to display your session. The way they had it set up was that you could insert your Sun employee ID – the same card used to get into the building – into a slot in the terminal. That authenticated you to the server and displayed your session. Want to show a colleage something you’re working on? Just put your ID into their Sun Ray and show them exactly what you were doing. That was cool! It was a frictionless way to demo and collaborate.
So long, Sun, and thanks for all the tech goodies.