Friday, July 9

Tall Latte with no Volatile Organic Compounds, Please

It turns out that the place for lunch nearest CommerceNet is the Veritas headquarters cafeteria, which is open to the public. I went to the place with all the other new guys who are, of course, considerably younger than I. A nice cafeteria it seemed, and after we collected our food we moved outside near a very pretty pool and fountain among shiny tall buildings with shiny people scurrying to and fro. Fork to mouth I suddenly realize that I am sitting in the phantom shadow of the "Rust Bucket". I worked nearby from 1978 to 1981.

The Rust Bucket was, from the early '70s to the early '80s, the intergalactic headquarters of Fairchild Camera & Instrument Corporation (aka Fairchild Semiconductor). It was a gigantic, hideous lump of CORTEN® steel with Wilfred J. Corrigan (CEO) at the top, hundreds of confused and terrified executives in the middle, a dysfunctional and uneconomic semiconductor fabrication facility at the bottom and, deep underground, a large number of leaking storage tanks holding sundry unpleasant liquids.

You won't be surprised to hear, although my lunch companions possibly were, that Veritas and its cafeteria are at the location of what the EPA calls the Fairchild Semiconductor portion of the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman Superfund Site.

The new guys had a thought for the history of the location — Netscape had lived and died just down the street. But Silicon Valley was born right where they were scarfing their wood-fired personal pizzas.

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