Re: future of hi-tech in america

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BMJ

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Nov 6, 2009, 8:08:28 PM11/6/09
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morris croy wrote:
> A Sun Microsystem campus today.
>
> http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/sun_microsystems.htm

That's sad.

I know of a number of places that built nice fancy facilities and then
quickly abandoned them. One company built theirs, got their federal tax
credits, and then promptly went out of business. Another one did the same
thing here in the city.

In both cases, I don't know what happened to the buildings after the
original occupants moved out but it would have been a shame if they ended
up like this.

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BMJ

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Nov 6, 2009, 11:19:12 PM11/6/09
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morris croy wrote:

> On Nov 6, 7:48 pm, morris croy <morrisc...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> A Sun Microsystem campus today.
>>
>> http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/sun_microsystems.htm
>
> A blog post about this, with comments from people who used to work in
> this particular building. At one point in time, it was allegedly the
> head office of Sun.
>
> http://www.boingboing.net/2007/12/19/abandoned-sun-micros.html

A parallel site, but about retail:

http://www.deadmalls.com/

I know of two that went under in my city. One was built nearly 30 years
ago during the height of the previous oil boom and was located about 5 km
south of where I live. It made no sense to me as I lived (and do again)
beside one of the biggest shopping centres in the city.

It had four anchor stores: Sears, Eaton's, Woolco, and Safeway.

WalMart bought Woolco but built its own store in another shopping area
several km to the east, but didn't release the original space.

Eaton's left when Woodward's (a western Canadian department store chain)
went belly up in the early '90s and moved into that empty space in the
shopping centre beside my apartment complex.

Safeway moved out and built its own store on another location on the
centre's property.

Sears left when Eaton's died and took over the old Eaton's/Woodward's store
close to my place.

One major bank in that shopping centre moved across the street into its own
building. Another did like Safeway and built its own facility on the property.

There wasn't much left and eventually, a perfectly good building was torn
down and replaced by facilities for senior citizens and some neo-yuppie
strip malls. The whole process took between 15 and 20 years.

BMJ

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Nov 6, 2009, 11:30:35 PM11/6/09
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morris croy wrote:
> Sounds like tax incentives gone awry.

You may remember the old Scientific Research Tax Credit (SRTC) program.
One of those companies I mentioned pulled its stunt when SRTCs were still
available before the Mulroney government did away with them. There were a
lot of charlatans trying to take advantage of the system.

A few years ago, something similar was instituted. I had some discussion
with a law firm in Calgary about doing some work for them concerning those
tax credits. I turned them down.

>
> I remember shortly after the dotcom bust, I was in silicon valley
> briefly visiting several old friends. At the time there were tons of
> empty buildings and campuses which looked abandoned. It was as if it
> was a "ghost town" in some areas.

I can well imagine what's going to happen to all the Nortel facilities. I
had an interview at the Nortel/Bell Northern complex near Bell's Corners
over 20 years ago. It was a nice shiny place back then. It might not be
any more.

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BMJ

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Nov 7, 2009, 3:28:08 PM11/7/09
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morris croy wrote:

> On Nov 6, 7:48 pm, morris croy <morrisc...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> A Sun Microsystem campus today.
>>
>> http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/sun_microsystems.htm
>
> A picture of an abandoned Bell Labs building.
>
> http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/multimedia/2008/08/gallery_bell_labs?slide=1&slideView=4

These pictures remind me of a place where I used to work.

It was originally an aircraft repair facility occupied by what eventually
became part of CAE Aviation at the city's municipal airport. When the
company moved to the International, it left behind a lot of equipment and
people, which was taken over by another company.

It was that firm that I eventually worked for over 20 years ago. The
building was actually owned by the city, and it looked the part. It was
poorly heated, had a leaky roof, and air conditioning was non-existent.
The company continued in the aircraft business by making parts for major
manufacturers, and eventually branched into other areas, including laser
cutting machines. It kept getting provincial government handouts as the
management hadn't a clue what it was doing. Eventually, it went belly up
some time after I was laid off.

After that, it had at least one other subsequent owner. The last one threw
in the towel about 15 years ago. The laser division was bought up by a
former employee and is still in the city, I think. Some of the people in
the aircraft group went to CAE. The building was gutted and has been
unoccupied ever since.

A few years ago, I went by there and saw what had happened. Many of the
windows were smashed in by rocks. The building remains in a state of
disrepair and the grounds don't appear to have been maintained.

CAE Aviation did OK for the first few years. It had contracts to maintain
military aircraft, particularly the C-130 Hercules. Air forces from other
countries used to fly their Hercs here to be worked on. CAE Aviation was
taken over by Spar Aerospace after the latter sold off its satellite
division. Spar itself was taken over by L-3 a few years ago.

But not long ago, the Herc contract was awarded by DND to a company in, I
think, Abbotsford and the writing was on the wall. This past January, the
Spar/L-3 facility at the city's International Airport was closed. Some 200
people with backgrounds in areas such as heavy machining, aircraft engine
maintenance, stress analysis, and avionics were without a job.

I read some Internet comments about that. Some blamed the Harper
government for what happened, while others cited Spar's complacency that it
didn't have to compete as it was going to get the contract anyway.
Regardless, an aviation legacy going back to when American forces were
stationed in the area during WW II is gone.

Gordon Stangler

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Nov 7, 2009, 3:39:05 PM11/7/09
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On Nov 7, 1:31 pm, morris croy <morrisc...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Nov 6, 7:48 pm, morris croy <morrisc...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> A picture of an abandoned Bell Labs building.
>
> http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/multimedia/2008/08/gallery_b...

That's really sad. I grew up hoping to one day do research in the
famed Bell Labs.

BMJ

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Nov 7, 2009, 4:12:11 PM11/7/09
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A lot of good companies that had reputations for such work have gone the
same way.

For example, a few years ago, Motorola decided to concentrate on cellphones
and spun off its semiconductor division as Freescale. It makes me wonder
what's going to happen to the PowerPC microprocessor as it was jointly
developed by IBM, Motorola, and, I recall, Apple. (That may be one reason
why Apple adopted Intel as its processor supplier.) Considering how nasty
the cellphone business is nowadays, that may have been a supremely dumb move.

HP spun off its foundation business (i. e., instrumentation) as Agilent.
(Get this: former CEO Carly Fiorina is considering running for public
office.....)

It's not looking good.

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BMJ

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Nov 7, 2009, 7:58:19 PM11/7/09
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morris croy wrote:
> IBM and HP are almost like IT consulting firms these days. How sad.

HP's manufacturing end appears to be doing OK. I've got an HP 500 GB
external HD which hasn't given me any problems since I bought it nearly 2
years ago. I also have a CD/DVD external drive which seems to be OK (it's
got to be better than the LaCie piece of junk that died after about 18
months). Mind you, I don't know how much of that was due to its
acquisition of Compag.

IBM is still producing mainframes and still has, I believe, a research
group but the company seems to be emphasizing more installations and
applications than actual manufacturing. And to think that this is the same
company who had employees who won the Nobel Prize in physics two years in a
row:

http://www.research.ibm.com/resources/awards.shtml

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Me

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Nov 7, 2009, 9:29:02 PM11/7/09
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On Sat, 7 Nov 2009, morris croy wrote:

> On Nov 7, 4:12 pm, BMJ <owlstretchingt...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>> (Get this:  former CEO Carly Fiorina is considering running for public
>> office.....)
>

> I'm sure when Carly is running for public office,

She's going to be up against Sarah Palin.

her opponents will
> be constantly mentioning her failures at HP under her tenure, whether
> in debates or attack ads. My friends who worked at HP over the years,
> mentioned that she was universally hated by the rank and file and
> technical employees.

My "take" is mixed. She wrote a book about her experience at HP (including
her view that the BoD was dysfunctional, and that is credible), but she
also told everyone once when she was doing a mass layoff: "No one has a
God-given right to a job" and I'd like to tell her that its pretty clear
when the BoD fired her sweet ass, that she sure got her right to an
obscene severance package (variously estimated at about $20 mil; pretty
good haul, if you ask me, for _failing_ on the job). Not through God, but
an employment contract.

I'd throw a lot of BoDs on rafts (along with the CEOs), float the rafts
out into the Gulf of Mexico, and let the US Navy use them for target
practice. Oh, yeah. Put Sarah Palin on one of the rafts, too.

Me

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Nov 7, 2009, 9:31:12 PM11/7/09
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On Sat, 7 Nov 2009, morris croy wrote:

> On Nov 7, 7:58 pm, BMJ <owlstretchingt...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>
>> HP's manufacturing end appears to be doing OK.  I've got an HP 500 GB
>> external HD which hasn't given me any problems since I bought it nearly 2
>> years ago.  I also have a CD/DVD external drive which seems to be OK (it's
>> got to be better than the LaCie piece of junk that died after about 18
>> months).  Mind you, I don't know how much of that was due to its
>> acquisition of Compag.
>>
>> IBM is still producing mainframes and still has, I believe, a research
>> group but the company seems to be emphasizing more installations and
>> applications than actual manufacturing.  And to think that this is the same
>> company who had employees who won the Nobel Prize in physics two years in a
>> row:
>>
>> http://www.research.ibm.com/resources/awards.shtml
>

> Better question is how much IBM and HP hardware manufacturing and R&D
> has been outsourced.

Offshored? I have an old HP IIP (vintage 1992), with "made in Taiwan"
sticker on the back. Does that tell you something?

Count up the announcements of new facilities in the USA vs new facilities
in Asia. The ratio is a big difference.


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