Amazon often seems to be lumped into the world of dot com excess, but it never enjoyed the Aeron chairs or free massages of the VC heavy startups.
Amazon was a frugal culture. When I joined, the health plan was a high deductible plan that offered little comfort, catastrophic coverage only. Salaries were low, the worst offer I received as I recall.
But the quintessential example of Amazon's frugality was the door desk.
Door desk, you say? Okay, I have a door. How do I make that into a desk?
Leave it to Jeff Bezos. Buy a wooden door, preferably a hollow core wooden door with no holes predrilled. Saw a couple 4" x 4" x 6' pillars in half. Bolt them to the door with a couple of scary looking angle brackets. Put it in front of a programmer. Door desk.
In addition to being inexpensive, door desks offered a lot of surface area. Put your computer monitor on top and in barely makes a dent. If Amazon wasn't so bloody cheap, you could have put three more monitors up there. Plenty of space for all of your crap.
Ergonomically, door desks leave a lot to be desired. Keyboards were usually too high. Typing for hours could be uncomfortable. And those angle brackets have sharp edges; accidentally scrapping exposed flesh against those was a mistake that wouldn't be repeated.
But door desks came to symbolize the Amazon frugal culture. They took on a live of their own. Years later, in 2001, there was a 6.8 magnitude earthquake here in Seattle. We were in a different building by then -- the attractive PacMed building up on Beacon Hill above downtown Seattle -- but we still had our door desks. And I can't tell you how happy we were to have that door desk over our heads as the building shuttered and swayed around us.