The Center for Cisco Heritage, managed by the Computer History Museum, unveiled a new exhibit, Our Story, on March 31, 2017, bringing together big names from Cisco’s 30-plus year history of innovation. Former and current employees, including a former CEO or two, mingled with local archivists and spoke on the importance of developing a culture of preservation.
The opening also marked the official launch of the Center for Cisco Heritage, a collaboration between the Computer History Museum and Cisco Systems. The center offers a unique approach to documenting Silicon Valley history, as well as a new model for open business archives. The center was founded in 2013 with the goal of preserving three decades of Cisco history. In 2016 the center became its own LLC, with Don Proctor as its CEO, and endowed to provide long-term, sustainable preservation.
The exhibit breaks the Cisco story down into interesting artifacts, historical products, and early video. Distinguished engineer and member of the center’s board Phil Remaker, shown above, poses next to Cisco products.
This network engineer cap inspired the Cisco cultural tradition of unique hats as give-away items at their yearly users symposium, previously Networkers—now Cisco Live!
The Scalable Tale, a playful illustrated book, recasts the rhyme of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with a set of crazy internetworking cats. Written internally by engineers enamored with the growing Catalyst line of switches, the complete text is available to read here.
Cisco’s first ad campaign was a tongue-in-cheek take on communication in the most difficult of situations. It ran in Network World in 1992. This and other items on display in Our Story are available to explore here.
Center Cisco Heritage CEO and Museum Trustee Don Proctor spoke on the original impetus for the project in which CHM Board Chairmen Len Shustek casually asked him what Cisco was doing to preserve their history. The project organically grew from that simple conversation into a long-term sustainable solution for documenting Cisco’s heritage and history.
John Hollar, Computer History Museum CEO, spoke on the importance of preserving a culture of strong leadership and innovation. Above posing with Chuck House, Museum trustee, and his wife Jennifer, who has collected significant hours of oral histories with key stakeholders in the Cisco story.
In attendance at the ribbon cutting event, John Chambers spoke on the importance of understanding and preserving “our history.” His 20 years at the helm of Cisco cemented Cisco’s commitment to customer support and advocacy, while keeping an eye on breaking market trends and opportunities for innovation.
First CEO John Morgridge remembered fondly the Irish style wake for Cisco’s HEAP processor, donating a 20-year-old commemorative shot glass to the archive from the event. Community gatherings and celebrations mark Cisco’s history of successes.
In addition to interesting artifacts and videos from the company’s history, the exhibit touched on Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, in which giving back remains a keystone of Cisco’s philosophy. From the very early days jumping the fence to Costano Elementary to Cisco’s current Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV), deployed for emergency communications during disasters and offering tours during the event, Cisco remains committed to connecting people no matter the landscape.
The exhibit, located on the second floor mezzanine of Cisco’s Building 10 headquarters, is open to Cisco employees and their guests. The Center for Cisco Heritage is open by appointment for researchers and tours. For more information on the project and contact information is available here.