SM: Where did you go after Stanford? EB: The first company that offered me a job was Zilog. They were the second microprocessor company in Silicon Valley; Intel was the first one. The inventor of the microprocessor, Federico Faggin had left Intel and founded Zilog.
I joined him about 12 to 18 months after he had started the company. There I learned about microprocessors straight from the inventor, so it was absolutely terrific. At the same time I had learned about networking from my visits to Xerox. Within a couple of years, I found myself building more complex microprocessor systems. Zilog was a great learning ground but a poorly managed company. the engineering had absolutely no direction, it was like a play yard.
I started to play with microprocessors. I then thought of the idea of putting them on the network, just like the network at Xerox, except instead of using expensive machines I would use inexpensive Z80 microprocessors. We started building a network called ZNet, completely built out of microprocessor technology, in order to make it cheaper than the high end Ethernet based network they had other places.
We did not have fancy graphics, but we had very good microprocessors. By 1978, we had built an environment which is architecturally very similar to what we use every day now: personal workstations, shared printers and servers all connected by a network, and provided services like email and messaging. This is when I became convinced that networking was going to be a huge thing. We did a lot almost by chance, just by playing around, and we stumbled upon something great.