* LinkedIn: Erik J. Heels: BBN

Bolt, Beranek & Newman (BBN) Advanced Computers Inc. (ACI), Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This article is one in an ongoing series about my life experiences, the people that I’ve met along the way, and how I’m using LinkedIn to reconnect with them, both directly via LinkedIn itself and indirectly (since people frequently search for references to themselves on the Internet) by publishing their names in these articles.

So far, I have written about the following:

Bolt, Beranek & Newman

I had planned, in advance, to only be in Finland for four months. After working in Finland, I returned to the States for the wedding of my MIT friends (Dave Kaffine to Joan Coyne, Peter Schmidt to Hollie Mahaney (now Hollie Schmidt)).

After the weddings, I joined Peter working at Bolt, Beranek & Newman Advanced Computers Inc. (BBN ACI) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I ended up working at BBN from 10/1988 until 04/1989, when the Air Force finally called me to active duty.

I believe that I have never met anyone who did not enjoy working at BBN. BBN was instrumental in helping to invent the Internet and was full of smart fun people. My job involved conducting system administration, automated quality assurance (QA) testing, problem tracking, and software installation documentation for the Butterfly GP1000 parallel-processing computer (running Mach 1000, a Berkeley 4.3-compatible version of UNIX).

Because BBN was such a great place to work, an informal group of BBN alumni formed the xBBN list (later adding the xBBN website). Today, there about 700 of us on the xBBN list, mostly high-tech, mostly in the greater Boston area, and the xBBN list has the highest signal/noise ratio of any list I subscribe to.

Like many startups, BBN ACI was not a home run. But remnants of it live on, as summarized by Robert Wells (02/06/03) on the xBBN list:

The TotalView multi-processor debugger developed at ACI was successfully spun out by Dave Rich and has become the standard debugger for multi-processor supercomputers – Bob Green and Steve Lawrence, Fred Webb, John Delsignore were still involved with it last I heard.


So here are a bunch of people that I worked with at BBN ACI. I am still in touch with some – but not all – of them.

Don Allen, Rob Banks, Dave Barach, Jay Batson, John Campbell, Steve Chipman, Tom Downey, Scott Eggimann, Walter Gleason, Erik Heels, Carl D. Howe, Larry Kaplan, Scott Landas, Sheila Mello, Mark McDonough, Art Mellor, Dave Rich, Tim Riley, Ron Rizzo, Wendy Rowe, Peter H. Schmidt, Jeff Schwefler, Cheryl Stefanelli, Bill Thompson, Tom Uban, and Robert Wells.

So if you’ve got a LinkedIn account and are interested in linking up, great. If not, that’s OK too.

View Erik J. Heels's profile on LinkedIn

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4 Replies to “* LinkedIn: Erik J. Heels: BBN”

  1. Thanks for this post. I did a little searching today for BBN Communications info – the BBN of the 80’s and early 90’s. I’m surprised how fast that information is disappearing! I could only find one website that had the old blue horizontal lines logo from those years. So was nice to find this post.

    I was the European Operations Mgr in Stuttgart, Germany in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Very fond memories. X.25 packet switching. C/70 computers running BBN’s Unix. Learned so much back then. Jay

  2. Since Facebook is also a thing, here are links to (possible) Facebook pages for various BBN folks:


  3. As a tech for BBN , I remember working on the Butterfly, did you guys get a bonus (like early retirement)for every cable installed in that box.

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