…that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. No, sorry, wrong lyric.
Today is the tenth anniversary of my first day at Sibelius. I remember it well: having arrived at the office bright and early, my first duty was to build my own desk, and then get on with setting up my new PC, a hand-me-down from somebody who had recently left the company. I was seated in the lower level of the office, between the two Andrews, one of whom is still with the company today and the other left a few years ago. My main responsibility was to start looking at technical support emails, and answering the ones I already knew the answers to (since I had been using Sibelius for a couple of months by the time I got the job). Our access to the Internet was through a single-channel ISDN line (64 whole kilobytes per second!) and it would go up and down like a yo-yo over the course of a day.
It was a very different company back in those days, very much still in the start-up mentality (in lots of ways, we never lost that start-up mentality, of course, but it’s different now that we’re part of a larger corporate entity). There were boxes everywhere. Our kitchen downstairs, for example, had a pile of old SCSI interface cards in it, removed from the boxes of the HP flat-bed scanners the company had been selling two Christmases ago to users of the Acorn version of Sibelius who had purchased the precursor to PhotoScore, Optical Manuscript.
In the stairwell between the office I worked in and the other office upstairs, where the sales and accounting folks sat, was a poster on the wall of the Acorn version of Sibelius, running on the most adorably fishbowl-esque CRT monitor (amazing to think that even flatter CRTs were only just starting to appear 10 years ago, let alone flat LCD displays).
The office was a peculiar sort of wedge shape, being as it was above a branch of the Co-operative Bank on the corners of City Road and Burleigh Street in the centre of Cambridge, opposite Footlights restaurant and the Grafton shopping centre. Last time I was in Cambridge, I noticed that the office space was still unoccupied, having remained that way since Sibelius moved out for larger premises on Hills Road in October 2000.
It’s incredible to think how far Sibelius has come in the last ten years. When I joined the company, the current version of Sibelius was 1.105. Ten years later, we have together released a Mac version, produced four major upgrades, countless minor upgrades, translated the software into five other languages, produced a hatful of different cut-down versions, expanded into selling other educational software, moved office twice, opened new offices in Australia and Japan, been acquired by Avid… and goodness knows what else.
Personally speaking, over that same period I’ve gone from being a wet-behind-the-ears 22-year-old Oxford graduate to being a slightly less wet-behind-the-ears 32-year-old, from technical support advisor to Senior Product Manager for the product I love, and along the way I’ve had my heart broken (but who hasn’t?), met my future wife, got married, bought my first house…
What a journey it’s been! Here’s to the next 10 years.