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He's Only in Field Service
Author: steve blank
Date: March 1981
Characters: Burrell Smith, steve blank
Topics: Hardware, Hardware Design
Summary: The SCC gets designed into the Mac

In the early eighties, I was at Zilog as the (very junior) product marketing manager for the Z8000 peripheral chips which included the new SCC chip, short for "Serial Communications Controller". I remember getting a call from our local salesman that someone at Apple wanted more technical information than just the spec sheets about our new (not yet shipping) chip. I vividly remember the sales guy saying, "its only some kid in field service, I'm too busy, why don't you drive over there and talk to him."

Zilog was also in Cupertino, near Apple on Bubb drive, and I remember driving to a small non-descript Apple building at the intersection of Stevens Creek and Sunnyvale/Saratoga (most of Apple's buildings at that time were on Bandley Drive.) I had a pleasant meeting and was as convincing as a marketing type could be to a very earnest engineer, mostly promising the moon for a versatile but then very buggy piece of silicon. I remember him thanking me for coming, saying we were the only chip company who cared enough to call on him (little did he know.)

I thought nothing about the meeting until years later. Long gone from Zilog I saw the picture of the Mac team. The field service guy I had pitched the chip to was Burrell Smith. The SCC had been designed into the Mac, and some sales guy who was too busy to take the meeting was probably retired in Maui on the commissions.

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