The headline sounds like heresy, I know, but put down those pitchforks and torches and hear me out. By now, you’ve probably all heard the news that the zombie lawsuit brought about by SCO against IBM has reared its ugly head and has started bellowing “braaaaaaains” once again.
But the fact of the matter is this: At one time, SCO was cool.
SCO started out here in my neighborhood, essentially, in Santa Cruz, California. It was called The Santa Cruz Operation (hence, SCO). That manifestation of SCO was founded in 1979 by Larry and Doug Michels, a father and son, as a Unix porting and consulting company which, over time, developed its own brand of Unix. In his book “The Art of Unix Programming,” Eric Raymond calls SCO the “first Unix company.”
As the story goes, the first SCO was sold to Caldera, a Linux company, in 2001 and rebranded The SCO Group, which moved it to Utah and made it a litigation company, and we pretty much know the rest of the story from there.
However, at its peak, and before its imminent downfall post-sale, the company employed about 1,500 employees across the globe, and just over 1,000 in Santa Cruz, making it the largest employer in Santa Cruz at the time.
The reason I bring this up is because there are a lot of folks in these parts – some of them still teaching Linux and Unix at Cabrillo College (the local community college) and many of whom are involved in their own tech endeavors (like Cruzio, the largest ISP in the area) –- who started or advanced their digital careers with SCO and will attest to the fact that the then-SCO was a pretty advanced company which cared a lot more about software than lawsuits.
So much of the tech on “this side of the hill” – that is, the side of the hill by the water, as opposed to “the other side of the hill,” which is the Silicon Valley – was borne of the experiences garnered at this one hallowed Camelot by Monterey Bay.
So pre-sale SCO –- the original SCO –- wasn’t the evil entity it is now, and by no means is this recollection an endorsement of what the current manifestation is doing in the courts. It just serves as a reminder that sometimes things –- good things –- can go south very quickly and become the complete opposite of what the original folks had in mind.