The IBM building in downtown Seattle was built in 1963. Designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the Pacific Science Center for the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 and the original World Trade Center towers in New York City. During the 1960s, IBM had a working System/360 machine room behind the glass windows facing the plaza, where the computer and its operators could be seen by shoppers and passers by.
> Stay in front of management. Don't give them a chance to catch up to you.
It was a different era.
I visited most of those places in their prime. I saw the bean bag chairs and the original Alto at Xerox PARC, demoed by Alan Kay. Visited an Intel fab during the 1K to 4K DRAM transition.
The designer of the x86 instruction set was in my college dorm. I met Bell Labs people in the early days of the Internet. Worked on some DARPA contracts. Knew people at HP Labs in Palo Alto. Almost went to work at IBM Almaden Research, which is a big glass building on a mountain, surrounded by parkland. I happened to be there the day IBM exited the disk drive business.
It was a small world. The cutting edge of computing technology was a few hundred people in the US in the early 1970s. Academic computer science departments were 10-30 people at CMU, MIT, Stanford, and a few other schools. It wasn't that hard to meet everybody.
All these places were about making it work. Not about getting people to click on ads.
Of course, many of us had to take a career detour though the Army. And I spent my first seven years working on operating system maintenance of a big mainframe OS. Theory and research came later.
I started many years later, but still get to meet and sometimes work with some of those people you mention. I have the impression that I caught the very tail end of a golden age.
There are still companies making it work, rather than in the business of exploiting users/humanity, but I had a hard time finding many in my last job move.
The closest I found was AWS, but I had some side concerns. I ended up instead picking a startup that was doing something constructive, and seemed like decent people, and one of the ways they got my attention was by touting in their initial contact that they don't do blockchain. :)
The conference center in the Palisades in NY was also quite striking. Not so much because of specific architectural features but of how it blended into the landscape and was populated with all sorts of old IBM equipment as displays. (It was also populated with Token Ring long after that went non-mainstream with the result that the rooms had signs warning you not to plug in your Ethernet jacks or your network connection would be fried.)