The early history of Sun Microsystems by the founders

For those of use working with companies during the first web boom of the late 90s, two companies personified the web itself. One was Cisco and its dark-coloured router faces still dominate internet infrastructure. The other was a computer company recently bought out by database giant Oracle. Sun Microsystems at that time was the archetype hot Silicon Valley company. They made computers which ran on a UNIX operating system called Solaris which still had a lot of power under the hood that other operating systems like Linux, Mac OS X and Windows are still running to catch up with its features.

The purple colour of the boxes were iconic compared to the beige boxes of the competition; even Apple sold beige boxes for professional uses at the time. Sun Microsystems claimed in the advertising that they put the dot in dot.com. That claim was not an immodest one. Their computers also put the decimal point in your mobile phone bill and your bank statement.

This was their second chance, originally they built powerful workstations for engineers and scientific computing. Personal computers got progressively more powerful so Sun moved more towards servers.

Sun had a natural affinity with the web because so much of the web was unix-like anyway. Tim Berners-Lee had developed what we all know as the ‘web on a UNIX-like computer system called the NeXT workstation (funnily enough that is the operating system that has underpinned Macs for the past decade, the iPhone and the iPad).

Thankfully the Computer History Museum captured the early days of Sun in the early 80s, before it becomes a footnote in geek history.