Friday, July 25, 2014

Sad passing of Marc Mislanghe

Marc Mislanghe died last week.

His contribution to HP history memories will not be forgotten.  Many of you have visited his website where he proudly assembled more than 600 old HP instruments and products, keeping most of them in working order.  He and John Minck have spent the past several years soliciting and posting various HP memoir stories, probably one of the best such sources for any company history.

Marc was a relatively young man, early 60s, who worked for HP France in the 80s and 90s, and felt so fortunate to be involved with a company that built such effective measurement equipment that he devoted the rest of his life to preserving that history.

The story of how he met Kenneth Kuhn, another avid HP fan and collector, is herein told as a reminisce by Kuhn:
That is very sad news.  Marc had so much spirit and so believed in HP concepts.  Marc was a true inspiration. I am glad I had the pleasure of knowing him.

Marc and I met through email many years ago -- I think maybe around 2003.  I had put in a very high bid on ebay for an old rare HP610 UHF generator​.  I thought there would be no one in the world other than me who would want that thing.  At the last second Marc put in a higher bid and beat me.  In those days ebay disclosed the bidders (now they are hidden for security reasons).  Marcs ebay ID was mmhewpack (hewpack was the teletype ID for Hewlett Packard in the old days) and he had outbid me a number of times in the past so I knew that ID well -- although I did not yet know Marc or what he was up to.  I had won another item from the seller of the HP610 and in various emails the seller learned of my collection of old HP instruments.  The seller informed me that he had had similar emails with Marc and knew of his growing collection and thought we should get together.  So he sent me Marc's email.  I emailed Marc and told him of my web site and Marc responded with great enthusiasm.  Marc was planning a website too.  Marc felt bad about beating me for the HP610 but I told him that was all right -- there would be another one show up and I would get that -- and I did.  Marc sent me an early version of the presentation he did back in 2007 when all of us gave talks at HP HQ.  I helped Marc with the English translations so that it would present well.  This was around 2003 and I had visions that someday there would be a presentation at HP -- four years later that happened.  Marc and I worked together a lot over the next years and I helped him with the English on his website.  Later Marc would become very fluent in English.

It was a great pleasure to meet Marc in 2007 at HP.  That was Marc's first trip to the United States.  I will never forget the lunch we had at a seafood restaurant just down the street on El Camino after our presentations at HP that morning.  Marc was highly impressed with the service at the restaurant.  He was amazed that the waitress kept bread on the table and made frequent stops to refill drinks and ask if there was anything else we needed.  Marc asked if this was common in American restaurants and I told him yes.  He then told me that in France one would never get service this good.  He said that the waiters were all on salary and did not care to do anything even if you waved at them to get their attention -- they would just look away.

I hope someone can take over Marc's website and maintain it.  That is the best website there is for HP instrument history.  Marc put his whole life into that.  That is very rare dedication.  I don't know what will happen to his huge collection of HP instruments.  I would like to think that HP, Agilent, and now Keysight Technologies could acknowledge Marc in some way.  Marc went to great efforts to preserve their great history -- much of which is in danger of being lost.

When Bill and Dave ran things it was all about people.  Now in many corporations it is all about making numbers for vulture stockholders and people are inconvenient commodities. Marc had the Bill and Dave spirit.  I know that spirit well because I have it too.  But in this modern world when I try to share that spirit and show what it can accomplish most people think I am nuts.  But I have the luxury of knowing the history.  It is most of the world that is nuts, not people like Marc, or me, or others who also believe in great things.

I think I could fill a book with fond memories of Marc.  I will be revisiting those in the next days.


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