Hal was a wiz kid computer programmer at age 15 in 1976. He could make the toggle switches and LEDs on his Altair 8800 dance at will. In college, he was class valedictorian after earning his computer science degree in 1984. Hal was destined for greatness and the real world was about to get rocked.
Hal's college friend Victor, who graduated two years prior, was already running his own startup company that made Unix-based financial planning software. Remembering Hal's brilliance, Victor recruited him to join his company the day after graduation. Victor needed the wiz kid-turned-wiz adult to create the equivalent of Lotus 1-2-3 in Unix. It was a tall first project but it paid well, so Hal happily signed up. Besides, everyone knew that spreadsheets were gonna change the world.
Hal was so full of ideas, he felt like he could take Lotus 1-2-3 and make it better. He built Unixus 3-2-1 from scratch and vowed to turn it into a fun and useful program. Surely it was bound to make Victor's company millions upon release.
Victor didn't seem to notice Hal's efforts, though. He was seldom in the office any more, the parking spot for his Porsche frequently sitting empty. Whenever Victor was actually around, he seemed disheveled and claimed to be preparing for an important sales trip. There were myriad rumors going around that he was actually out partying with the cashflow from their first big sales.
One day, Hal came in to work only to find the doors chained shut. A note from Victor was taped to the door. In it, he explained how the company was going bankrupt and he had to sell it for pennies on the dollar to a larger tech firm. All of the company's assets now belonged to the new ownership, and everyone was out of a job. Hal felt crushed that he lost his first job in addition to his source code for Unixus 3-2-1.
Many years went by and Hal moved on to more stable employment. He initially held a strong resentment towards Victor but it gradually faded with each passing year. Victor too had found himself some more stability and his hard partying days were over. Victor and Hal eventually reconnected through a mutual friend.
"Hal! Good to see you, old buddy!" Victor shouted, rising from the restaurant table he reserved for them. Hal shook his hand, less enthusiastically than Victor did. "Hey, I just want to say right away that I'm sorry about the whole company closure way back when. I was young and immature and I felt so bad about costing everyone their jobs," Victor dropped his head, showing that his 80's permed hair was long gone.
"Hey, don't worry about it. It wasn't a big deal," Hal downplayed, failing to mention how he used to throw darts at a picture of Victor. Hal started to open up more while they reminisced about wild college stories. Victor's memory of things… was a bit different. Specifically, he was always the center of every story. He always was the big winner in every bit of college hijinks, and if Hal remembered anything embarassing about Victor, it was Hal's memory that was faulty- Victor was King of the School.
They eventually got around to talking about Unixus 3-2-1. "I know it was my first real project, but I felt like my spreadsheet program was really something. What ever happened to all the source code from that place?"
Victor laughed, "Oh Hal, you won't believe this! Most of our products were scrapped or hacked to bits and repurposed. But they realized Unixus 3-2-1 had potential. They added a few finishing touches then packaged it up and sold it off. Boy, I wish I could have gotten a better deal when I sold the joint. If I had only known…"
Hal failed to find any of that unbelievable. "Well, at least it made someone some money," Hal lamented. "Do you have any idea who they sold it to?"
"Well now, here's the crazy part," Victor paused before drawing a breath. "There was this up and coming software company around that time that rhymes with Bike-rosoft that was eager to get their hands on it. They took what you made and it became the core of a little program called Excel."
Hal instantly started to regret reuniting with Victor. Whether he was full of crap or not, Hal's resentment came flooding back during the rest of their lunch together. He made an excuse to leave right after the check came, hoping to avoid something like Victor claiming he helped Al Gore create the internet.
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