BBN was an amazing place; if you had a question about a protocol for example, you could track down one of the original authors of the RFC - sometimes they were located right down the hall.
BBN believed in employees and looked for people with passion, honesty and the desire to continually learn. I met my late wife at BBN. With a masters in Italian Literature and some scattered technical experience (satellite internet uplink/downlink stuff) she applied for a position at the company. They looked at her resume, lack of experience, and asked what Italian lit had to do with the Internet - “absolutely nothing” she replied, but expressed her interest in understanding how the Internet worked. They hired her in the CSC - Customer Support Center and slowly gave her training. She had great mentors and quickly jumped into becoming a Network Analyst, from there Infrastructure Engineer and finally to one of the peak technical groups (on the BBN Planet / networking side) - Network Engineering. Prior to BBN being sold out to GTE, she was one of two people that worked on peering arrangements for customers and other network providers. She knew the main backbone like the back of her hand and would haggle with companies to ensure that peering arrangements were fair and not one sided. Before the downfall, she argued internally as well - throwing salespeople under the bus when they’d over promise bandwidth from a local POP that was already approaching capacity. She started off with minimal technical experience and networking knowledge, but left with deep technical knowledge of Cisco router internals, BGP, and all things Internet/peering related. BBN believed in her, saw promise and invested in her - as they tried to do with everyone.
BBN was an awesome place - there was a hydro-acoustic submarine testing tank, some anechoic chambers, an amazing library, and some really cool technology. There was a meeting to show off “bullet ears” which involved a hidden sniper in a garage. The technology could identify the path of the bullet as well as the location of the sniper. For the 90s, it was an amazing place to be.
.. it always broke my heart when we were sold off to GTE to become GTE Internetworking. It eventually was bought by Verizon and spun off to become Genuity, which tanked. Level3 swooped in like vultures and picked over the remaining folks - you could keep your job if you moved to Denver or Atlanta from what I recall. Of the folks that moved, most of them were laid off in a few years. Sadly, BBN had ASN1, which Level3 scuttled in favor of their ASN - 3356.
It was a great place.
The GTE acquisition occurred one month after I moved to Boston and started there. Definitely a weird time.