Wednesday, November 29, 2006

He's a 4 digit badge

I was at DCU (Digital Credit Union) today. I started at DCU when I worked for Digital, and because its an excellent credit union, I'm still there today. Digital is gone - but its credit union lives on. I was talking to one of the bank employees and she was asking what I did at verizon. In the midst of this conversation she asked me my badge number and I gave it to her.

This reminding me of one of the small parts of the Digital culture. I had a fairly low 6 digit bad number. DEC did not pre-assign some format to their badge numbers, like starting at say 100000 because they knew they'd have over 100,000 employees at some point in time. So they had some pretty small badge numbers around. I don't know if they started at 1 or not, but I know they had 4 digit badge numbers. If you had a 4 digit badge number, then you started when there were less than 10,000 employees.

Because DEC was such a great place to work, "back in the day", families would end up working there. It wasn't uncommon when I worked back in MA to talk to someone who said, "My dad works for DEC too", or "My uncle works for DEC", etc. And usually when they said that some previous generation person worked for DEC, they would add in "He's a 4 digit badge" - this was the DEC way of saying "He's an old-timer. Been with the company forever."

Its a small thing... but it was just one of the cool things at DEC. At least I thought it was cool :) - It was kind of a sign of loyalty, etc. You could always pretty much tell when you were hired in relation to someone, even if you had a 6 digit badge. You were in the 200K range perhaps, and they were in the 300K range. Because I thought I'd work for DEC forever (why not - everyone I knew at the time was kind of planning on that - because they had family who had done it), I thought it would be cool some day when someone said about me, "He's a 6 digit badge".

DEC has since gone the way of many no-longer-present computer companies - but memories of them live on. Its not uncommon for me to talk about DEC at least once a month. Tell a story, talk about VMS, etc. It was a great company to work for, with a great culture. I worked at DEC for 8 years. 2 back east and 6 out here. I've worked for MCI, MCI-WorldCom, WorldCom, MCI and now Verizon for 11 years. I've never seen the same kind of culture, loyalty to company, etc. that I did there.

I hadn't thought about the concept of being a 4 digit badge for a long time. It made me smile...

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