Roland Dürre
Thursday April 13th, 2017

IT-Treff – Nostalgia 1999 – It was Awesome!

Among the IF Blog documents, you can find a very special article. For a long time, it was hidden at the very bottom.

It is a satire on New Economy – a theatre play titled:

“Can we be saved?“

Norbert Weinberger and yours truly wrote it. The idea originated when we were on a flight from Munich via Zurich to New-Delhi with Swiss Air.

Swiss Air was a compromise that had taken long to agree upon. My friend and partner Norbert always flew Lufthansa Business Class as a matter of principle. And, just as true to my principles, I always flew Economy. Since we wanted to fly together, we compromised on Swiss air Business Class, because at the time the price was almost exactly halfway in between.

Incidentally, the reason for our flight was the official opening of our joint subsidiary company “AMPERSAND limited“. The trees grew into the heavens at the time.

The Business Class of the Swiss Air plane to New Delhi was completely empty. In those days, Swiss Air was still an independent airline and suffering from losses – but that did not matter to the friendly crew. The service was excellent, we were really mollycoddled. During the entire flight, charming stewardesses served us champagne. That was also one of the factors that made us bold. Consequently, we developed the rough concept for our theatre piece while flying.

Together with friends of ours who were also entrepreneurs, we had the first performance on June, 29th, 1999 with an audience of considerably more than 500 at IT-Treff 99 in the over-crowded Munich Schlachthof. It was great fun and the audience were enthusiastic. For us – the cast – it was mania. And additionally, it was a great outlook towards what happened around the turn of the millennium.

How did the IT Treff come about? In the mid-1990s, it was not always quite so easy for IT enterprises in Germany. The general feeling was not too good. Consequently, a few courageous IT entrepreneurs wanted to do something to improve the mood.

Their names were: Muschka Utpadel-Domdey, Alfred Bauer, Hans Nagel, Dr. Christian Roth, Markus Winkler and yours truly.

Our idea was: let us celebrate against the crisis. So we initiated the IT-Treff and invited the entire Munich IT scene. And alas – they all came.

Stars with names like Gerhard Polt and Django Asül performed for us and extended their programs to include IT-specific topics. The Bavarian Government was always on board – I remember well how Secretary of State Hans Spitzner gave us very special welcome addresses. There was always hot music – we even produced our own CD in the Schlachthof with the George Greene Hotline Band. In fact, to this day I enjoy listening to it.

And the entire IT sector danced. That was in the years 1996, 1997 and 1998. We had our last IT-Treff in 1999 – and we (the organization team) made our own cabaret IT-Treff Satire (1734) “Can we be Saved?“ – for you to read and imitate.

Since is it such a nice piece and was such a huge success, I offer a bonus for small and big theatres if they play it. You can call it a “negative performance fee” (royalty), which means you do not have to pay 10% of the turnover, but instead get something back. It is short and very much to the point – the prelude can also be used for other occasions besides celebrations.


 

Here is the IT Treff 1999 flyer from the outside

And from the inside

RMD
(Translated by Evelyn)

Roland Dürre
Monday January 25th, 2016

UPDATE: Creative Times

Unfortunately, I made some history-related mistakes in my article Creative Times (Kreative Zeiten).

(Many thanks to Claus M. Müller – then managing director and part-owner of InterFace Computer GmbH).

Here is what we currently know:

The Konrad-Zuse-Tour organized by InterFace took place between the years 1982 and 1985 and had four legs. We had planned to visit Konrad Zuse, the inventor of the electronic calculator, in Hünfeld and pay our due respect to him on his 75th birthday.

TAL_3863It seems that the poster was printed in 1982 and not in 1986! That was also a state election year (Landtagswahlen) in Bavaria. At the time, the interval between state elections was still four years (in 1998, they changed this to five years).

In 1982, during the first leg between Munich and Regensburg, I was not part of the cyclist group. To be sure, I knew the InterFace group around Peter Schnupp, whom I learned to very much appreciate and like at Softlab. But other than that, I did not yet have any connection with the InterFace GmbH and InterFace Computer GmbH (except that I rather liked their logo).

In 1983, the second leg from Kelheim (?) to Nürnberg (?) was scheduled. As Barbara’s husband, I was permitted to take part. At the time, she worked for the InterFace Computer GmbH, developing a syntax-based editor. Even as early as then, she was allowed to write programs in the language C that, later, I was going to love so much.

In 1984, we continued with the tour. The InterFace Connection was now part of the group (it had started as an enterprise on April, 1st, 1984).

In 1985, we had the great finale, arriving in Hünfeld to celebrate the 75th birthday of Konrad Zuse. I still remember very well how we were welcomed in a community office at Hünfeld and how pleasantly Konrad Zuse greeted us in his speech. Konrad Zuse also invited us home and gave us one of his pictures. It is still in the InterFace AG office today. In fact, the number of cyclists who went on this tour was quite large, consisting mostly of InterFace Computer GmbH and InterFace Connection GmbH employees.

We were able to reconstruct the history because of our children. In 1983, we had Sabine (born in September 1980) and Maximilian (born in April 1982) with us. In 1984, our little Martin was also with us (born in January 1984). All three of them were also riding shotgun on our bikes in 1985.

As you see, there are still a few question marks in the article – which means I would certainly appreciate more insider information on our Konrad-Zuse-Tour.

But one thing remains very clear – the tour was a wonderful adventure. It gave much joy to all those who took part and thus gave us courage for more enterprises.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday January 18th, 2016

Creative Times

TAL_38631986.
State Elections in Bavaria.

The InterFace Connection had already really become successful. We celebrated intensely and consequently organized a company outing. We rode our bikes through Bavaria for three whole days. It was the second leg of our Konrad-Zuse-Bike-Tour (Konrad-Zuse-Radtour), which, eventually, was to take us to Hünfeld, where Konrad Zuse had lived.

It was during the first October week. On the next weekend (October, 12th, 1986), the elections for the eleventh. Bavarian State Parliament  were to take place. All over the place, in cities and villages, huge numbers of campaign posters could be seen. They all had messages that were mostly the opposite of intelligent. It was so bad that once in a while it really hurt.

On the second day of our bike tour, we rounded a corner and were suddenly in the middle of a wonderful boulevard. And on all the trees lining the boulevard, there were posters saying: vote for InterFace. This action increased the already good mood in our group even more.

Hartmut Streppel, a dear friend who at the time worked for InterFace Computer, found this so fascinating that he took two of the posters – or maybe he later went to the MSV office and asked for them. And now, almost thirty years later, Hartmut found them again and wants to donate them to us. Since, at the time, the MSV had ordered these posters, I am sure they were designed by a very famous artist. This was how InterFace worked at the time.

MSV – that was Maximilian Schulze-Vorberg. Together with Dr. Peter Schnupp, he had been the one who came up with the InterFace idea. MSV was our creative head and was full of such ideas all the time. Many of them were also realized.

😉 Well, those were the good old times.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

CLOU/HIT at InterFace Connection

Or:
How Wolf and I eventually ended up doing it ourselves.

During the Berlin PM Camp, I related the stories of four projects from my vintage time. They were all very important to me. And I told you here  that I was going to describe them all in the IF blog.

if-logoProjekt 4

Now comes the story of my fourth project:

Even before 1983, I was fed up with working for others. At the time, I was still a Softlab employee. This is where I learned to extend my one-sided competence – with the exception of a little SNA (IBM), it was mostly Siemens technology – and learn more IBM technologies. In particular, however, I was able to learn about the different systems of the “intermediate data technology”.

I am talking machines which, dependent on their storage unit, consisted of two to three parts and had the size of Bosch refrigerators. That means they were a lot smaller and also a lot simpler than mainframe. At the time, those were especially fashionable. Consequently, there was an enormous amount of European and non-European competition with differing and often very proprietorial technology. Kienzle and Nixdorf were also among those aspiring MDT enterprises. And in those days, even in a city like Munich, the same software was developed synchronously in different enterprises for different technologies.

I am sure that Softlab was one of the most innovative German “software houses”. They, too, had a proprietorial system, the famous PET-Maestro. For me, this was the first system without the permanent frustration of data loss, because the Pet-Maestro already worked in symbols – and every symbol was immediately transferred to the hard drive. Consequently, you had a current warm start with every reset – and nothing was lost! It was such a relief to finally no longer have to fear data loss at all time when working, for example, with EDT or EDOR.

On other fronts, I also learned a lot of new things at Softlab. This is particularly true for the business sector: how to formulate an offer so that it contains the least possible risk, how to talk with the VB-s of the big enterprises (Bull, ICL, IBM, Nixdorf, Siemens – even at that time, nothing was going without the big ones), or how to write studies.

This is how I became a paper tiger (totally unrelated to paper tiger, the famous Chinese theatre movement). And in those days, it was (still) true that you got better pay per hour as a paper tiger than as a programmer. Thus equipped, I wanted to do it myself. Yet I did not dare to start all alone. So I went in search of a partner. I looked for and identified persons in my vicinity who I found nice and competent. And who perhaps also wanted to found a company. There were quite a few. But again and again, nothing came of it.

Until Wolf (Geldmacher) came. Wolf was considerably younger than I. Technologically, he was super. And our view of things was similar. Meaning that our values, expectations, interests and needs complemented each other. I was more the old style programmer – and Wolf had the knowledge about everything that was modern and new in IT. Also, Wolf knew absolutely no compromises when it came to quality. And if anybody had common sense, then it was Wolf. And I guess those are the most important factors: competence, common sense, quality awareness. Then you only need to be a nice guy…

Consequently, we founded the short version of InterFace Connection. We inherited the InterFace from Peter Schnupp, the “Connection” was our own contribution. That is what we wanted to be together with our employees: a “connection” that sticks together and later shares its success. We founded the enterprise in 1983 and started business on April, 1st, 1984.

But then, the enterprise is not the project I want to talk about. The project was about developing a product. And there were two reasons why Wolf and I wanted to have a product: firstly, we were convinced that a product would be something to be proud of. It creates an identity. Secondly, a product is easier to scale than a service.

Besides, in our eyes, the then well-established concept of “body leasing” did not have a future. Basically, we still believed in the law and as founders, it was pretty obvious to us that the common form of body leasing was exactly what, according to the AÜG, was simply illegal.

It did not take us long to become quite convinced that, in those days, Unix was the best basis for future products. Also, we agreed without hesitation that, basically, everything you needed for using computers was still missing in Unix. And in particular, we saw that a text system was sadly missing. And that the first thing you would have to develop rather quickly on Unix with its new data displays (in raw or cooked mode) and especially with the language c was a comfortable typewriter.

Since we had a huge amount of respect for the production and successful marketing of a product, we started the development of the product in cooperation with InterFace Computer. It did not take long before we had a small success in the SINIX (the Siemens Unix) environment. Consequently, the development of the product was moved to us and the InterFace Computer was put in charge of the ports and the sales on the “remaining market”.

And in no time, we also had a two-digit number of team members, all of them very young. In general, they were students. They had to have programming competence and be nice. And they had to cope with the work, regardless of their double burden of studying and working. Nothing else mattered to us.

Since Wolf and I (along with a few young employed computer scientists with academic diplomas whom we got through aforementioned body leasing and whose hours cost between 150 and 120 DM) financed the entire development, the young persons were rather free to come and go as they pleased. The only control was our assistant Heidi (Kaindl). Heidi was quite in charge of all the young persons, taking good care that everybody actually worked. The only times Wolf and I met them was during meetings (soon after our foundation, women, too, were employed).

In those days, Wolf had the role of SCRUM-Master and more (even though the word SCRUM did not yet exist). He told the team about quality. And that, first and foremost, they produced quality not for our customers, not for our sales partners Siemens and not for the InterFace Connection. Instead, being honest programmers, they needed to produce quality in their own interest. And Wolf had rather high standards and was very strict. If someone was not able or willing to deliver quality, he or she had no future at the “Connection”. But Wolf also protected the team, for instance when I tried to limit resources. And he made sure that we invested were necessary.

My task was perhaps that of the Product Owner. At least in the beginning. When I had been a young boy, I had been forced to learn stenography and typing. I used to love stenography, because it is a beautiful way of writing. It does not hurt your hand, as normal writing does. But I hated the typewriter. And I knew exactly how a good editing machine would have to look. I had also written it down in the time of our foundation.

When things got more complicated and, for instance, CLOU with its “embedded sql“ was added to our repertory, I transferred the role of Product Owner to our customers. And that was one of my best decisions ever. Because the customers actually were able to tell us their ideas about an automated chip processing. They showed us how to continue on our way.

One of our rules was that all employees – with the exception of Heidi – were able to program. Heidi was our first and most important customer. As soon as the first HIT version was available, we confiscated “nroff-makros”, her “office vi”, and she had to use HIT – which, incidentally, she did not appreciate at all. After all, the vi solution had not been so bad. Later, however, she learned to love her HIT. Surprise, surprise! After all, she was one of those who built it!

All other colleagues on the HIT team had to work hands-on. In other words, all of them had to be able to program, find errors and, above all, co-work (team work).

We were very early users of tools that would be commonly used a lot later. But this was only true for tools that actually made sense, such as “lint” for the quality control of our code or “sccs” for the source code administration. I am pretty sure that, time and again, we were the first in Munich. We were also earlier than most of the others using a “tracker” and an automatic “built”. But we never used planning software. Just as we always took pains to avoid “bureaucrazy”.

So all of us involved in the project were programmers. And we actually always coordinated in the team who was going to develop what. The personalities of the people involved were very diverse. But then, we also had the magic programmer. It was not entirely in jest that we called him “God”. But the first rule was that we were a team. Everybody helped everybody. Our motto was: “one for all, all for one”. Nobody was ever left in a lurch. And whenever you did not know a way out, you asked your colleague. Pair-programming in the strict sense did not exist, because it went without saying that this was practiced quasi automatically. Consequently, there were always several persons who knew the sources of the others. It was like an overlapping system that worked well some way or other without many words.

Of course, we had a rather complicated system with an awful lot of modules, interfaces, tools, API-s in our development. In total, a huge number of lines of code was produced. There were modules for the virtualization of keyboards, terminals or printers. We had developed the first National Language Support. Later, it became part of the X-Open UNIX implementation. We had complicated modules and modules everybody feared, as well as boring modules. Once in a while, we also had to find errors in the compilers we used.

The team always decided among themselves who was going to take on which task. Everything was part of the project: our value bank, mostly constituting of OpenSource components for source code administration, for the Built and the partly automated test, for the ports to the many end systems the Unix world then offered. Even producing the customer newsletter HITNews, which at the time was printed four times a year and determining the structure of the courses were part of it. Everything was done together, everyone .gave his best.

Naturally, once in a while there were situations when perhaps someone was unable to cope. Because maybe he did not yet have enough experience or perhaps he had underestimated the task. But then a colleague would help. The right person was always available. And when it was really necessary, there was still “God”.

Of course, everybody had his own role in the team. Each of us was a project manager and as such responsible for the appointments he had made. Some had more, others less. Each of us was a quality manager. Some more so, others less. Of course, there was something like a first contact for our customers and our partners. It was always a mutual decision (“who is the best for this job?”), but he remained in the team as a programmer. But, basically, every developer answered the questions of his customers. After all, they simply came into our office. The central bell rang, and whoever was the first to answer the telephone was talking to the customer.

Naturally, some of the colleagues were more concerned with integration, planning, configuration and the built-theme, the manual, … But every one of them was always fully integrated into the team in terms of technology.

But everybody always went back to programming. And everybody was responsible for top quality. For instance because they built automatic test environments simply as a part of the project. The responsibility was totally shared.

With the success came the necessity to have teachers for our product HIT/CLOU. During the first few years, all the developers also taught the courses. This was true for teaching the end users, the special users, the systems engineers, the operators and the programmers. Even the central persons, like Friedrich Lehn, the “father” of CLOU, taught courses where beginners were instructed on how to program CLOU.

There were instances when the developers did not appreciate this. After all, developing is much more important, isn’t it? But the courses were quite popular (because, after all, the colleagues knew what they were talking about, which certainly counterbalances the occasional “didactical” weakness). But the great thing about it was that our colleagues always knew exactly what the customer wanted and needed! This is how the customers as a whole became the Product Owners.
Due to these inter-disciplinary tasks, our colleagues grew both in technological competence and personality at enormous speed – that is also true for sales competence. More often than not, it was unbelievable how young students became experts with a huge self-esteem after a few months.

Without ever saying it out loud, we on our team understood even at that time that it is all about making all the persons in the team and in the enterprise look biggger instead of smaller. And to make them be part of everything and share everything. We knew that we often had to have really steep goals, often even bold goals. Otherwise, we would never have managed our product. But we also knew, especially in this situation, the importance of living a strong error tolerance.

The colleague in the team or the customer must never ever be the enemy or adversary. Instead, the only enemies were the challenge or the detrimental circumstances.

Wolf and I were the “management”. But we were more like visitors in our enterprise. After eight to ten hours with customers every day, we came back to our employees at home in the office for recreation. They were all our friends, it felt good to be near them. And they showed us all the great things they had, again, created. We gave our feedback and then disappeared to our next day of consultancy.

And whenever a nice result was achieved, we all celebrated. It was the best time of my life. We learned so much. We also learned that thinking normal and conservatively is often nonsense. For instance, I always wanted to deliver to our customers on time. And I had to learn that this is utter nonsense.

Because if you want to create something really innovative, you will learn again and again that deadlines do not make any sense at all. It simply will not work. If a deadline can absolutely not be met, then all that matters is a functioning communication and looking for a solution that satisfies the customer. Because when they are all in one boat and want to be a success together, then there is always a solution – and we found out that it can always be done.

I already hear your objection: 
Well, it might work for a small project. But what about a huge project?

To be sure, we were perhaps less than 50 persons. But the very same projects had failed with more than one huge concern. They had often used five times as many persons as we or even more. Expensive, experienced and highly qualified ones. But it did not work.

I believe it can be done in the same way if you have a huge or even a very huge project if many such great teams are linked and cooperate with good-will.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday November 7th, 2015

Founding my Own Company in 1983 – A Retrospective Analysis

logo-HITLooking for a HIT logo, I found this article. It is based on an interview I gave in August 2014. It was perhaps during one of those (totally confusing) many state-sponsored contests for founders of medium-sized firms. Well, one of those many sponsoring opportunities. I no longer know the name of the person who interviewed me at the time.

The article was published in:

header-1

The basic message of the article is:

My own company founding process went well because many necessary requirements were met. Yet we had not planned them a-priori and rationally. Instead, we only found out about them a-posteriori.

It is a personal report on how InterFace was founded. I will modify it a little for publication in if-blog.de, because it is part of my personal life story. With this report, I would like to encourage young founders and also prepare you for the almost finished fourth instalment of my series “vintage project management”, which is soon to come. Here is the text:

Ever since the early 1980ies, I was tempted to become self-employed. One of the reasons was that I (like many founders of today I know) wanted to take responsibility for an enterprise and decide its future, thus also enjoying my work more. Another reason was that I wanted to earn more money. Strangely enough, this is a motive that does not seem to be so important to many founders of today I know – perhaps because today the restrictions at the work-place are a lot more than they used to be and many people are no longer prepared to sacrifice their private life for their career.

For starters, I set out looking for the “ideal partner” as early as 1982 (I did not look for the “ideal business idea”, because even then I firmly believed that there is no such thing as an ideal business plan). Mind you, it was not easy to find the “ideal partner”, either, but after a little more than a year, I was lucky enough to find Wolf Geldmacher.

He brought enormous entrepreneurial power and was down-to-earth, just like I was. With Wolf, founding the “InterFace Connection Gesellschaft für Datenfern-verarbeitung und Entwicklung von Software mbH“, which was the predecessor of InterFace AG, did not take long. Our topics were IT and Unix. On the then new Unix platform, we wanted to create a successful product. It was important for us to actually have a product, because we assumed it was harder to scale a service. Besides, in 1983 (before the foundation in 1984), we were not sure if body-leasing was going to be a business that would endure. Even then, we believed that Body Leasing (“Letting of Workers” AÜG) would be a sector that, from the legal point of view, occupies a grey zone at the least.

Consequently, it was clear that we wanted to build a product. After various ideas (data base, networking,…), we decided in favour of an office-compatible typing system on Unix. As a name, we chose what we wanted it to become: a HIT: Seen in retrospective, we actually succeeded with something rather risky. It took us only a few years to become the most successful text system by far on Unix in Europe. It was like a dream!

Thinking about it later, I identified persons and important requirements or events without which it would never have worked. We simply were moving in the right time and had enormous luck that made so much just right.

The duo “Wolf & Roland“
Even in the early 1980ies, the two of us firmly believed in agile, lean and open. We were in favour of self-organization and self-determination, formulated our ideas and our requirements and then let our teams do the job. It was all done in a profound sense of belonging together.

Necessary “skills“
In 1960, my parents had managed to get me a place at the Augsburg “wirtschafts-wissenschaftliche Oberrealschule Jakob Fugger” after the four years of primary school at Wittelsbacher Volksschule. This had by no means been an easy task. Later, this school was re-named “„wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Gymnasium“ (until 1960, it had still been a business school). Book-keeping and business administration, both of which I was taught at the “wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Gymnasium”, were certainly useful skills when it came to founding a company, but they were not an absolute necessity. The things I had learned at TUM in computer science were basically also not much use. I had learned programming as a student at Siemens. In the Siemens Laboratory, I had learned team work, in the sales department communication, and at Softlab: business.

“The method“
We had developed and lived our own private method of software development. It was a little like what they call SCRUM today. Wolf was the “SCRUM-Master“ (and more than that). He was responsible for the technology and the people. He pointed the colleagues towards quality and made it clear to them that they had to live and give quality, first and foremost for themselves. And I was something like the “product owner” and business director.
There are a few persons who hugely contributed to our success. I would like to give my special thanks to them:

Anton Böck
Stenography and typing had been obligatory at the Jacob Fugger school until 1960, and later, during my time, elective courses. My father forced me to learn both, because he considered these two techniques important advantages when it came to fighting for your professional position.

Anton Böck was my teacher of these two elective courses. I always did quite well in stenography. Whenever I was forced to learn at home, I spent hours drawing stenographic symbols. For me, this was just like calligraphy. Beautiful. And my parents thought I was learning. In reality, I fled into some kind of “meditative drawing”, thus finding solace in my dreams.
Mr. Böck was a strict teacher and he rather liked me because I was an excellent stenographer. But he also forced me to sit behind the typewriter. I hated the typewriter and even when I was sixteen, I dreamed of what a “nice” and “beautiful” typewriter would have to look like. It may sound a little ridiculous, but I am sure that, without this early negative experience of mine with the generation of text, the InterFace Connection would never have developed a text processing system. Which means it would never have become the rather successful product enterprise it was.

Hans Strack-Zimmermann
Hans was my mentor and the person who had made Unix big, both in Europe and at Siemens (here under the brand name Sinix). He awoke my enthusiasm for his vision and believed in our team. And he helped us a lot. This is how, in the end, our success proved him right.

Dr. Peter Schnupp
Peter was a second generation IT pioneer (I see the generation Zuse as the first and myself as part of the third). IT expert, column writer in the Computer-Woche and also quite famous for many other activities. He had an excellent reputation as an expert.

Peter managed to convince the strategic decision-maker of a huge agency that the future of IT lies in Unix and that there is a great local product for text on the market.
Without this stroke of luck, the project CLOU/HIT would never have been a success.

My projects
Even as a young software developer for Siemens AG in the mid-1970ies, I had worked on a great task. In the course of the development of Transdata, I had developed the “Connection Handling“ and also been part of the team that developed “APS“ (user programming language). “Connection Handling“ has a central importance for “Remote Data Transfer”, as it was then called. With APS, it was possible to decentralize computing power to local “data station computers” (operating system PDN) and thus to be the first to break the centralized main frame principle.

With this “superior knowledge”, it was easy for me to shine during big projects and as a logical consequence of this, I was able to change into the department “special projects sales” at Siemens AG. In this department, my most important project was DISPOL, a central project of the Bavarian Police Force – which, early in the 1980ies had given itself the task of changing from paper filing (data), typewriters (documents) and teletext machines (communication!) to electronic data processing.

I accompanied this project until I founded my own company and in the process, I understood how market, customers and in particular authorities work.

Without this personal history of mine, HIT/CLOU would never have become a successful product.

The people at InterFace 
We employed very young persons for production. More often than not, they were still students when they first came to work for us. And in (almost) all cases, they were the right persons to hire. The speed with which these people became overachievers and took upon them a high responsibility was truly amazing.

The right principles
Along with product development, almost as an accidental by-product, a high-quality counselling and co-operation with Siemens in the field of “Unix Operating Systems” developed. Technologically, we were at the source and we learned many extremely helpful things from our operation systems partner. For instance, we were among the first who started using tools that were not at all common in Europe. And we created many novelties, such as for instance the “National Language Support (NSL)”, which later even made it into XOPEN, becoming the basis for all Unix systems.

We used methods (or rather, we invented them intuitively) such as the four-eye-principle of programming, peer2peer-reviews, “extreme programming“, developer rotation and much more. Those methods did not even exist at the time, or else were not known to us. But it just made sense to do it in this way. In fact, it brought us more than fundamental advantages when it came to developing speed, user-orientedness and quality.

Our developers were always in direct contact with the customers. For instance, they taught the HIT courses for our customers themselves and thus understood what the customers wanted. All these factors contributed hugely towards the quality of our product.

Finances
We were well aware of the difficulties. Consequently, we shared the IF computers during our initial founding phase. For the second phase, the marketing, we had planned to share tasks. The InterFace Connection developed the product and looked after our big customer Siemens. InterFace Computer did the porting to the many other Unix systems and the sales for more hardware producers and partners. Until, later, the InterFace Connection took over the entire affair.
Developing a product necessitates a huge “man power”. And men cost money. In 1984 and the year after that, we solved this problem in a very simple way. Wolf Geldmacher and yours truly worked as consultants. Evenings and sometimes also Saturdays were used to look after the product and the team.

As consultants, we charged 150.- DM per hour. That was a terrific rate and the only reason we got away with it was that US consultants with equal know-how were a lot more expensive.

Now you can do a simple calculation: A good month will bring you 200 man hours (we were rather industrious). Multiplied with 150.- DM, that would earn us 30,000 DM in a good month. Subtracting our salary of 5,000 DM each, after taxes, which makes around 6,000 before taxes, this left us with 18,000 for hardware, Heidi (our assistant, who worked for us right from the start) and our students, the product developers.

As early as a few months after our foundation on April, 1st, 1984, we were able to recruit, and immediately use as consultants, some young computer scientists. They brought us similar money to dispose of. Money we used exclusively for product development. And from late in 1985, the product itself saw to it that we quickly had increasing marginal returns.
Events 
Moreover, there were some rather lucky circumstances that helped us very much.

For instance, Siemens had started a very huge project, wishing to develop their own text system for BS 2000 and Unix. Regardless of the fact that these projects had several times more people working for them than our development team, and also regardless of the fact that the Siemens project developers were all grown software developers, none of these projects seemed to get anywhere. They all turned out more or less complete failures.

Yet the concern Siemens needed such software in order to achieve what they wanted to achieve. Consequently, they had to buy licences from two providers – we were one of them. This is how we became the provider and licenced producer of the then market leader in Germany on Linux.

The “technological time frame” worked in our favour: At the time, Unix replaced the numerous varying computer systems of the “medium-sized data technology” MDT. Our product HIT could not have come at a better time.

Those were also the times when using databases became more and more common. As a brand new definition, you had SQL as a “query language“ based on natural language. There even was a German SQL version! So what better than to extent CLOU, the 4GL (programming language of the fourth generation) that enabled HIT to program text elements, to also include an “embedded SQL“ which would suddenly make it possible to send dynamically generated queries to a database during the running of an element program and to then automatically use the received data for creating a document? That was really sensational, and it also came at exactly the right moment.

Lots of luck and just a little ill luck
It was certainly something special that a federal agency was courageous enough to base its future technology on a totally new technology created by a very small provider. A wonderful market development favouring UNIX. Then there were many more courageous and, for us, lucky customer decisions. And a super team…

There were also some problems
Buying the hardware for the development was extremely expensive. As early as 1985, we had to buy MX500 – which at the time was listed at more than 300,000 DM. For us, this was an unbelievable sum. But it was clear that, without this system, we would never be able to manage the necessary speed of development. Two years later, the machine was already totally outdated. We worked on SUN computers and quasi overnight, new fast PC-s with diverse Unix variants that were considerably less expensive came onto the market.

InterFace Computer backed out, the strategic cooperation was no longer working. Consequently, we were forced to buy the rights to the product. This was a huge investment and a hard decision, yet, in retrospect, it was a decision that paid off.

Other necessary requirements
I am sure there are several more causes and incidents without which the enterprise HIT/CLOU would never have become a success. Some of these might be things I no longer even remember or things I am not really consciously aware of. But without all the aforementioned factors, the InterFace Connection as the producer of HIT/CLOU would never have existed. Many special circumstances and coinciding events taken together caused our huge success.

With this article, I wanted to use my own example to show that many requirements must be met if you want to succeed. And that there are things you cannot plan. I also wrote this to encourage you towards having a (reasonable) readiness towards leaving things undone. Yet I also want to show you that it is not all that easy to found a company and that a pragmatic approach is fundamentally important.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Yesterday, we had our Christmas party. The house was packed and the music was great. Since there was so much turmoil, I did not want to present the entire speech I had prepared. Instead, I only told the audience about how InterFace started in 1984. Here is the speech as I had prepared it:

"Mein Leben nach InterFace ?"

“?? My life after InterFace??”

2014 is/was my last year as managing director of InterFace AG. Consequently, this here is the last time I am speaking to this audience.

I enjoy looking back over all the InterFace years – that includes the last year. Regardless of the fact that it was probably not the easiest year in our history.
It all started in the early 1980ies. Wolf Geldmacher and I had found each other and were planning to establish an enterprise in 1983. After a lengthy preparation phase, we finally started in April 1984.

It was the “InterFace connection company with limited liability for communication software and data processing”.

We knew that the success of the enterprise depended on three factors:

“Creating Usefulness”

Our products and services should be something the market needs.

“Satisfying Needs”

The people in the enterprise should work with courage and joy.

“Meaning”

All parties concerned must be able to give meaning to their work.

More than thirty years ago, we started in the UNIX environment with the development of the text system HIT-CLOU! And it was really on the mark! Everybody in the enterprise followed our star. This was the only way for us to work a huge miracle with our small team. The way up was fast and steep. At this time, I would like to welcome especially the colleagues of the first hours.

After Wolf quit, we continued following our star. It was not easy. Stars sometimes disappear behind clouds or a mountain. Once in a while, you enter a forest and have to continue without seeing the sky. Or the straight path is blocked and you have to go a detour.

As the decades went by, the InterFace grew. People came and went. Tasks and business models changed. The environment also had a huge impact on the enterprise. The InterFace as a(n eco-)social system is shaped by humans. Wherever humans interact, you get “the human touch”. Also, systems have a tendency towards developing their own lives. It was not always easy, but we always brought the “system InterFace” back on track.

Almost exactly 15 years after the InterFace was founded, we already had a similar situation. That was fifteen years ago. It seems like we get a crisis every fifteen years and have to overcome said crisis. Consequently, my wish would be that the next crisis will not come before another fifteen years have gone by . It seems that neither the lives of humans nor the lives of enterprises can function totally without crises.

A few years ago, the InterFace steered off-course. It was only a little bit and almost unnoticeable. Then a little more. Against the wishes of the managing directors. We were like the employee in his office working with concentration and not noticing that it gets dark outside. And who then, all of a sudden, notices that he has to switch on the light.

This is how our ship, slowly and bit by bit, drifted into an undesired direction. The reasons were not really easy to make out. In retrospective, you can find quite a few different explanations, none of which I now wish to expand on.

We were no longer capable of action, among the directors and in their immediate vicinity, discontent grew. Discordance made us unable to act, which might actually have ended quite dangerously for the enterprise. This is how, this summer, the board of directors was broken up. The board of supervisors had to step in and we all know the consequences.

Now, we are steering back on course. This is important for all the people working for the enterprise – and, of course, also for the enterprise itself. Personally, I love the InterFace if it is an enterprise more or less meeting the following requirements.

  • All the people working there can fill their place with courage and joy.
  • It offers a fear-free space and promotes the flourishing of life.
  • It remains simple with respect to its structures and avoids over-regulation.
  • There is a culture of togetherness at eye-level.
  • The teams cooperate in a mutual understanding of success.
  • Every employee can give meaning to his or her work.
  • Self-organization is a daily principle.
  • No hierarchical tree overshadows the organization as such.
  • It is primarily concerned with satisfying the needs of the customers and employees, rather than its own affairs.
  • It finds the right compromise between “bureaucracy” and “holy-cracy” (of the two, I would rather have too much “holy-cracy” than too much “bureaucracy”).
  • Common sense is always paramount.
  • The leading persons see themselves in the role of providers of a service, rather than sun-Gods and knights.
  • Mental concepts and mind-sets are as they should be.
  • It works in the sense of welfare economy (as demanded by the Bavarian constitution).
  • The individual panels of the enterprise work for the enterprise (rather than being used for personal purposes).
  • It serves the people, rather than itself.

I know quite a few enterprises on the IT market and consequently, it seems to me that we are not doing too poorly, indeed – even if, at times, we show some weakness or other. This is only possible because we trust each other. Trust, however, will not come through seeking the counsel of an attorney or through writing contracts. It happens through “honest behaviour”, “trust-based cooperation” and “open communication”. Trust is the best weapon against concepts of the enemy and stupid allegations.

InterFace, too, will find its enemies where you will find “internal politics”, “bureaucracy” and “dogmata”. Matters will be particularly dreary when the shared interest is violated for individual interests. It does not matter if this happens voluntarily or just frivolously. All these escapades are something I clearly counter with the outcry: NO!

This is my good-bye to the InterFace board of directors. YOU remain and you are the enterprise! You can shape the future. Will you, please, see to it that we remain the successful “champions in connection”? If you do that, I will gladly remain close to the enterprise and support you from the distance of a supervisory board member with all my strength.

And, please, for those (few) among you who have not yet understood what this is all about: remember that you do not want to bite the hand that feeds you.

My interests in the board of supervisors will be:

  • To support a constructive mental concept.
  • To see to it that the “customer” remains the focus of attention.
  • To make it possible for all our colleagues to have a meaningful life and work.
  • To utilize my network for the future of the InterFace AG.
  • Being a share-holder, I will demand sustainable business practices.

In the future, the IF needs less “institution & constitution”. Instead, we need more intuition, common sense and a clear commitment of all parties concerned to a modern, agile, slim and transparent entrepreneurial culture. On these factors, you get a clear outcry from me: GO!

The board of directors now consists of the following persons: Dr. Christof Stierlen, Maximilian Buchberger and Paul Schuster. I totally trust these three colleagues. My wishes for them is that they may have right touch as often as possible and for us all this certain amount of luck you always have good use for in life.

Above all, I now wish you all – dear colleagues, dear families, dear friends and dear guests – and the InterFace only the best. And now I wish us all a nice party, a Happy Christmas and a successful New Year 2015.


🙂 Well – such is life. I organized 31 Christmas parties for IF and gave 31 speeches – and now it is all over!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday August 18th, 2014

Start-up (2) – Our Own Foundation (1983)

Since early in the 1980ies, I had been eager to become self-employed. One of the reasons was that (as many founders I know today, too), I wanted to have a word and some responsibility in an enterprise and thus enjoy my work more. Another reason (and, surprisingly enough, not many of the founders I know today share this sentiment) was that I actually wanted to earn more money.

Consequently, I looked for the “ideal partner” (rather than the “ideal business idea”, because, even then, I thought there is no such thing). But it was not easy to even find the “ideal partner”. Luckily, though, I found Wolf Geldmacher after a little more than one year. He brought great entrepreneurial strength and was just as “down to earth” as I was.

With Wolf as my partner, it did not take long to establish the “InterFace Connection Gesellschaft für Datenfernverarbeitung und Entwicklung von Software mbH“, which was the predecessor of InterFace AG. Our fields of interest were IT and Unix. We wanted to build a successful product with the “new” Unix. We assumed that services are hard to scale. Even before 1983 (the founding was in 1984), we feared that Body-Leasing might not be a business with a long life-span. Besides, even in those early days, it seemed to us that the Body Leasing Business is situated somewhere in the legal grey zone. This was one of the reasons why we wanted to actually create a real product.

Said product was the office-compatible Unix writing system HIT. In retrospect, the entire affair was a totally crazy enterprise. Surprisingly, though, it worked. I fact, to this day I cannot entirely understand how this happened.
It only took as a few years to become the most successful Unix text system in Europe by far. It felt like a dream!

Looking back, I can identify persons and important requirements or events without which it would never have worked. Basically, we were moving at the right time and had lots of luck, because everything just fell into place.

The Duo „Wolf & Roland“

Even in the early 1980ies, we believed in “agile, lean and open“. We were in favour of self-organization and self-determination, We communicated our ideas and our expectations and then our teams were allowed to work as they saw fit. It was all done with a huge sense of belonging together.

For software development, we invented and practiced a private method you would, today, call SCRUM. Wolf was the “SCRUM-Master“ (and more than that, too). He was responsible for the technology and the people. He led the colleagues towards delivering quality and made it clear to them that they had to live quality – primarily for their own sake. And I was something like the “product owner”, the leader on the business side.

Anton Böck

In 1960, my parents sent me to the business-centred Higher Middle School “Jakob Fugger” in Augsburg. Later, it was re-named Grammar School, before 1960, it had been called business school. Stenography and typing had been compulsory until 1960, later they were taught on a voluntary basis. My father forced me to learn both, because he considered both competences as indispensable when it came to the real fight in professional life.

Anton Böck was my teacher. I was doing quite excellent in stenography. Whenever I was forced to do some learning at home, I spent hours drawing stenographic symbols. For me, this was just like calligraphy, simply beautiful. I hated the typewriter. Herr Böck was a strict teacher and he rather liked me because of my stenography. Consequently, he forced me to practice on the typewriter. As a result, I dreamed what characteristics a “nice” and “lovely” typewriter should have as early as by the age of 16.

Well, it might sound ridiculous, but I am quite sure that, without this early experience with generating text, the InterFace Connection would not have become a product enterprise.

Hans Strack-Zimmermann

Hans was my mentor and the man who made UNIX big, both in Europe and at Siemens (where it was called Sinix). I was convinced that all he said was correct and he believed in our team. Well, this facilitated matters a lot.

However, our success proves that we were correct.

Dr. Peter Schnupp

Peter was an IT pioneer of the second generation (for me, the generation Zuse was the first generation and I was part of the third). As an entrepreneur (he founded Softlab), IT expert, column author in the “Computer-Woche” and also due to other activities, we was well-known and had an excellent reputation as an expert.
Peter managed to convince the strategic decider in a big public office organization that the future will be based on IT and UNIX – and that there is a great local product.

Without this stroke of luck, the project CLOU/HIT would never have become a success.

My Projects

Even as a young software developer at Siemens AG in the mid-seventies, I had a great job. In the course of developing Transdata, I designed the “Connection Handling” and also worked on the development of “APS“ (appliers’ programming language). Connection handling has a central function in “long-distance data transfer”, as it was then called. Through APS, you could outsource processing time to local “data station computers” (operating system PDN) – which was the first time the central principle of main frames was broken.

With this “superior knowledge”, it was easy for me to get a good reputation with huge projects, which meant that, as a logical conclusion, I was transferred to the Siemens AG department: “special projects marketing”. My most important project in this department was DISPOL, a central project of the Bavarian Police which had set itself the task of making the filing cabinet (data), the typewriter (documents) and the telefax machine (communication) obsolete through the introduction of Electronic Data Processing.

I stayed with this project until I founded my own company and in the process I learned all there is to learn about the expectations of customers and the market of civil offices.

Without this history, HIT/CLOU would never have become a successful product.

Our People

For product development, we hired very young persons. In fact, they often started working for us when they were still students. And in (almost) all cases, they were exactly the right people. These persons took no time at all becoming central top performers and they instantly took high responsibility.

The Right Principles

Along with the product development, a qualified counselling team in the field of “Unix Operating Systems” grew. We sat right at the source and I learned many extremely helpful things from our operating systems partner. Consequently, we were early to use tools which at the time were not even widely known in Europe.

We applied methods (or rather, we intuitively invented them) such as the four-eyes-principle when programming, peer2peer-reviews, ”extreme programming“, developer rotation and much more. Those were methods that had not even existed in those days, yet they gave us considerable advantage when it came to developing speed, customer orientation and quality (incidentally, some of these principles are still not applied everywhere today).

Our developers are always directly in contact with the customer. For instance, all the developers did the HIT courses for the customers themselves, which means that they understand what the customer wants and needs.

All these factors have contributed hugely towards the quality of our product.

Financing

We were well aware what the real problem with our project was. Consequently, we shared the costs of the IF computers during the first phase of basic development. For the second phase of marketing, we had intended to share tasks. We were going to further develop the basic system and also attend to our expected big customer Siemens. InterFace Computer was planned to be the port for many other Unix systems and for realizing the sales for other partners.

But even in order to just develop the product, we needed considerable man power. In 1984, we solved this problem in a very simple way: Wolf Geldmacher and yours truly worked as counsellors. We took care of the product and team in the evenings and, when necessary, on Saturdays.

As counsellors, we worked for an hourly rate of 150.- DM. This was absolutely top range and we were only able to get away with it because US consultants with comparable know-how were even more expensive.

Well, let me do the calculations: a good month will bring us 200 man hours (we were very industrious). Multiplied by 150 DM, that equals 30,000 DM in a good month. With a salary of 5,000 DM, which is about 6,000 DM before taxes, that left us 18,000 for hardware, our Heidi (our assistant, who helped us from the beginning) and our students, the product developers.

Only a few months after our foundation on April, 1st, 1984, we were also able to recruit two young computer scientists who immediately worked as consultants, too. They brought in money comparable to our ratio. And from late in 1995, the product itself provided us with rapidly increasing amounts of money.

The Situation

There were more beneficial circumstances that helped us considerably.
For instance, Siemens had started a very huge project the aim of which it was to develop their own text system for BS 2000 and Unix. Regardless of the fact that this project had manpower that was several times more than our development team, on top of all Siemens project developers being full-fledged software developers (as opposed to our young team), these projects never seemed to get anywhere. Which means they actually more or less failed.

The Siemens concern, however, needed this software for their goals and therefore had to buy licences from two suppliers – one of which was us. This is how we became the supplier of the then market leader in Germany of Unix.

The technological time frame also favoured us. Firstly, Unix at the time replaced all those many different computing systems of the “medium data technology” MDT. So again, our product HIT came just at the right time.

Also, this was the time when using databases started to get a common thing to do. SQL as “query language” based on natural language was newly defined. There was even a German version of SQL!

So wasn’t it only logical to extend the 4GL CLOU (for programming text elements) which supplemented HIT by an “embedded SQL“ which would suddenly make it possible to send dynamically generated queries to a database during the running of the text-element program and then to automatically make use of the found data for producing a document? This was a true sensation, and it had come at exactly the right time.

Lots of Luck and Just a Little Bit of Misfortune

The courage shown by a big federal office in relying on a totally new technology and a very small provider was certainly something special. It was a wonderful market development in favour of Unix. There were many more courageous and, for us, beneficial decisions by customers. A great team…

We Also Had Some Problems

The hardware we needed for our developments was extremely costly. As early as 1985, we had to buy an MX500 – which at the time had a listed price of several 100,000 DM. For us, this was impossibly much money. But it was absolutely clear that we were not going to manage the necessary developing speed without the system. And then it took only two years for the machine to become outdated. Overnight, we developed on SUN and on the new fast PC-s with diverse Unix variants.
In the long run, it turned out that InterFace Computer, too, was the wrong partner. The strategic cooperation no longer worked. Consequently, we were forced to buy the rights to the product. This was a truly hard investment decision. Yet, in retrospect, it turns out that it paid off.

Other Necessary Requirements

I am sure there were other causes and lucky circumstances without which the enterprise HIT/CLOU would never have made it. Partly, we are probably talking things I no longer remember or things I was never really aware of. But without all this, at least InterFace Connection as producer of HIT/CLOU would never have existed. If you remember what I wrote, you will see that I kept telling you at every possible instance that it would never have happened without those circumstances/ coincidences. They were all necessary for the final success. And in retrospect, I am truly surprised how this courageous enterprise could actually work out.

This article was supposed to show you through my own example how unbelievably many requirements have to be fulfilled in order to become a success. Mind you, I do not at all want this to discourage you. But it certainly goes to show that it is not all that easy and that a pragmatic approach might sometimes do no harm. I believe founders can learn a lot from this story and I am quite willing to discuss it with you as a Use Case interactively and personally.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday August 10th, 2014

Two Short Retrospective Glances at the 30-Year Jubilee.

Late in June, we celebrated 30 years of InterFace. It was a colourful and lively party, more than 400 persons found their way to us at the Sportpark Unterhaching.
Friedrich Lehn and his team took video recordings. And on top of a lot of great bonus material, he supplied us with two beautiful Potpourris.

Impressions from the Party

Voices on the party

Many thanks to all those who were kind enough and willing to give an interview.
It will make me glad if you all like what you see.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

At the 30-years of InterFace jubilee party, Gerhard Saeltzer was one of the guests of honour. Being the surprise guest from Dresden, he had prepared a wonderful speech. As the party progressed to become a rather excessive and noisy affair, there was, unfortunately, no opportunity to give this speech its due place. The first part of the speech describes a rather impressive chapter of East-German/West-German history. InterFace and yours truly were lucky enough to witness some of this history first-hand during the very early stages.

It is truly nice that you all exist!

Dear Roland Dürre, dear InterFace folks, dear guests!

Today, we meet to celebrate the thirtieth birthday of InterFace. Many thanks for the invitation, which I gladly accepted. I immediately decided to come here with my wife.

It is truly nice that you all exist and that we all found each other here today!
Let us remember some events of 24 years ago. It was the time of the German Re-Unification. What exciting and upsetting times those were! And how frustrating they were in East Germany! For instance, Germans from Bavaria came to visit us Saxonians – and they spoke a language that sounded totally alien to our ears. And the second word all those Bavarians uttered was one that had been totally eradicated in the East: God. Wherever you saw them, you heard them say: “Grüß Gott“ – the only thing the Saxonians could do by way of reply was to give an embarrassed and shy “Na goodden Taach“.

And we also learned that the Godly greeting was accompanied by something else: the church tax collected by the federal tax office and often shockingly high back pays for us persons living in the East. And then something extraordinary happened: countless special knights stormed into the East – fortune-hunting knights and robber-knights. Along with attorneys and politicians, counsellors and realtors, functionaries and unionists. Many of them – let us be honest about this – had become redundant or put to pasture in the West. In no time, the con artists came: the car salespersons who sold four-wheel junk as new cars. The textile merchants who sold used clothes as new. The quick property hunters who bought huge dilapidated East-VEB’s for one DM, then demolished the houses and sold the property for millions. And the agents for all kinds of things and totally useless items, above all for life insurances. I, too, unnecessarily, “nibbled”.

In the East, I met attorneys and civil servants from the West who, for example, did not even know that you had to put your signature underneath a legal complaint before you submit it at court. And even show-masters and magicians turned up. One of them actually came right from heaven – he landed in Dresden with a borrowed helicopter – like a God of Fortune. He built a new suburb of Dresden in a swampy area, sold the best soccer players and eventually disappeared behind prison bars. And there were also great IT counsellors who were really absolutely incompetent. They did not even know the meaning of the words software engineering and software quality.

Well, my dear Bavarians, you can imagine how, after the re-unification, there was plenty of frustration and negative culture shocks in the East. We had to undergo a total re-programming. And then, all of a sudden, a miracle happened. I witnessed the reverse, some kind of positive culture shock. In Dresden, I met the entrepreneur Roland Dürre and parts of his young team, his wife and even his youngest offspring Rupert.

Now this man was totally different. He was an entrepreneur who did not just talk big, but was competent and knew what he was doing. A man you could talk to, from man to man, without arrogance. He met me at eye-level without first looking at the contents of my purse (it was empty, anyway) before starting to talk. A man who, even as the head of the entire firm, met his employees like family, wearing felt slippers. With his athletic and unpretentious life-style, he used soap from army supplies for his daily ablutions, rather than certain perfumed chief soaps. Roland Dürre, the entrepreneur who was such a good listener. A man who it was a pleasure to talk to and to cooperate with. A flexible team manager in the truest sense of the word.

Well, let me put it bluntly: for me as someone who was frustrated with re-unification, Roland Dürre and his team looked like extra-terrestrials landed from another, positive star. And they successfully mastered the last 30 stormy years! And I admire all those at InterFace who were part of it.

You all are just terrific! It is so nice to have you all here!

Many thanks to Roland Dürre for this silver lining I was permitted to experience, this East-German/West-German post-re-unification culture shock! Dear Roland Dürre! In those days, we both were quite bold, deciding to organize the first East-German/West-German technological conference for modern software and application systems SoftSys 9/90 in Dresden. Regardless of our rather limited resources, we were both even faster than the high and mighty politicians.

As early as 9 days before the re-unification on October, 3rd, 1990, our East-German/West-German re-unification conference took place in Dresden! The good communication between the two of us had some considerable effect. Everything was done faster. Later, unfortunately, our connection came to a standstill. 


ComputerweltSo much the more wonderful that, after 24 years, we re-united. I found InterFace on the internet when I entered my own name and accidentally found a book review  about my computer science book for children and later for primary school in Saxonia: ”Erstaunliche Computerwelt“.

Dear Mr. Dürre, dear InterFace Team!

Looking back makes me a little sad: unfortunately, there are currently far too few enterprises in Germany and Europe where such a nice, communicative, faire culture is lived as at InterFace. In these times of company bankruptcies and mergers, where quite a few enterprises have not survived, you managed to stick it out on the market. Wonderful! Many others could learn from you.

I admire you!

It is really a pity that, as of today, science has not yet mastered one art: perfect cloning. Both Germany and Europe would be better off if you and your enterprise could be cloned – maybe five times, or, a little more boldly, 20 times! And since, unfortunately, this cannot yet be done, they really should erect a plinth or at least a memorial table for InterFace here in Unterhaching. Well, even if they cannot do that at the moment, here are my heart-felt congratulations – you might find some similarities to Theodor Fontane:

”May sorrow be lame, may worries be tame!

Hear our wishes for the birthday child:

Another thirty years unharmed and mild!“

And, my dear Roland Dürre, here is another small wish for the future – because it is such a pleasure to cooperate with you. How about a new shared project with world-wide potential? I have an idea I would like to discuss with you.

Best health and good luck for all of you!

Grüß Gott! Godden Taach, and so long – perhaps with amusing anecdotes from my life with the computer in the East! You are all cordially invited!


Dr. Saeltzer, Unterhaching, June, 27th, 2014

Hochzeit im FlußThe invitation was for the session “fascinating things and anecdotes around the present and the future of computer application” by Dr. Saeltzer during our 30-year-jubilee party. In this session, he told us amusing things about the start of IT in the GDR during the 1960ies. He also took the role of helping to build courage and showed with small reading sessions from his book “Wedding in the River” (which is an “introduction to resilience”) how people can retain optimism even in grave situations, such as the Dresden flood catastrophe.

When I read this text, my ears turned purple, but I was certainly very delighted.
My most heartfelt regards and many thanks to Dr. Saeltzer.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

Here are a few catchwords to characterize our “surprise guest” Dr. Gerhard Saeltzer:
Computer Scientist, Software Technologist, Simulation Expert, Author, Speaker, Trainer (more than 10 books, among them best sellers, 100 printed technological reports, 1,000 presentations and seminars, exposes for educational TV), entire pages and interviews in the daily newspaper devoted just to him, Chairman of big technological conferences in the East, Designer of Innovations such as ProgFox, LEMA. His last position was as governmental director of the Saxonian data-security center in Dresden. Currently, he is in anti-retirement; he has been jogging through Dresden for 20 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on a daily basis for the last 45 years.

P.S.2

The text is the original by Dr. Gerhard Saeltzer. I added the two pictures of the books mentioned in the article.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday June 25th, 2014

Two More Days – And I Forgot About the Dresscode!

Ref.: Thirty Years of InterFace AG Party

InterFace_Icon_30Jahre_01-94
Unfortunately, like with any other project, I also made some mistakes when planning our party. One of those mistakes is that I forgot to mention and publicly announce the “dress code”. Mind you, there are only two more days until the party! What a shocking discovery!

This poor performance of mine already gave rise to some gossip in the “InterFace Kitchen”: “Men have to wear shorts” or “sportive/elegant” or even “solemn/ ceremonial”. However, all those rumours are wrong!

In the hope that it is never too late, I am now quickly making up for my omission and publishing the “official dress code” of the 30-years-of-Interface party:

We want a colourful party we can all enjoy! Nobody should suffer because of what she or he is wearing. And one of the results of our party will be a special photographic work of art by the successful media-artist Wolf. N. Helzle. Consequently, the party will also be a photo and video party.

In other words:

There are two rules to the dress code:

1. Everyone should wear what he or she feels most comfortable wearing!

2. Diversity and originality are welcome!

Everything is permitted and you can feel free to be beyond what is generally considered suitable (except if you wish to violate the moral code of conduct, but in our circles nobody would think of doing that, anyway).

In other words: if you feel like masquerading, then this is what you can do. People wearing their dinner jacket, business costumes or suits with satin ties are just as welcome as those wearing Bavarian or other Traditional Costumes. Both genders are permitted to show skin (shorts and skirts, midriff-bearing tops are beautiful) and their tattoos. We also look forward to shrill football costumes – even if your colours represent a team that has not passed the qualification round -, as much as to the IF logo discreetly painted on your cheek.

Summary:

There is no dress code. Except that you should feel really comfortable. However, if someone wishes to wear something special for the special occasion, I will be very happy. In that case, I would ask you to do what you wanted to do with courage and joy.
The organizational team is looking forward to a wonderful party with all our visitors.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

Well, I have not yet decided what to wear: my Italian satin suit, the shorts with the beer t-shirt, the SpVG sports costume … ?