“He’s on the road at 7 a.m. for the drive from Los Altos, California to the Silicon Valley Lab in San Jose.
He has his morning coffee. Runs the regularly scheduled meeting with his design team.
And later shoots the breeze with the lunchtime crowd — always around the same table in the cafeteria — before heading back to his desk to write some computer code.
Alone in his office, he peers quizzically into data flying across the monitor. He reaches for a nearby binder, leafs through a few pages, taps on a few more keys and then nods his head in satisfaction.”
These everyday routines, described in the simple video below, belong to the late Vern Watts, the IBM Distinguished Engineer and chief architect of IMS — the software used to keep track of the millions of parts for the Saturn V 1969 moon voyage. In the more than 40 years since it was invented, IMS has been critical to the database software revolution and has been used for all sorts of clever and useful things (see the related IBM100 Icon of Progress).
Like IMS, Watts was a workhorse — a finely honed talent who strode into his office nearly every day for 53 years “with a store of optimism and commitment that comes from deep within his soul.” And he’s part of a group of visionaries and inventors from IBM’s first 100 years who have a long and proud history of investigating uncharted terrain, of exploring areas that at first seem daunting — even impossible — with hope and an idea they deeply believe in.
I created this video before Vern’s passing a couple of years ago. If you hadn’t viewed it before, I hope you enjoy it now.