Monday, August 31, 2015

HPE will focus "FORWARD" not Backward

We are in receipt of "the Answer"--not the one we sought, but sometimes ambiguity is the worst thing.  Here is the response to a proposal to stage a Celebration Day for the 50th anniversary of the first HP computer, the HP 2116A, launched on November 7, 1966 at the Fall Joint Computer Conference (sigh, and a moment of silence to honor the dead)....

The proposal was to have the IEEE Silicon Valley History Committee combine with HP at the Computer History Museum to fete the first computer along with five or six key milestones for HP computing along the way--this to be timed with the anticipated HP CEO biographical book by Burgelman and McKinney next year, and the assention of the Hewlett papers at Stanford Library.

The reply, sent to Ned Barnholt, CEO emeritus for Agilent, when it spun out of HP in 1999:

Ned, as you're aware, we're in the middle of separating HP into two companies.  With my crazy workload, I sometimes have trouble responding to emails as fast as I'd like.

I took a look at your original message to Meg.  While the idea is
intriguing, Hewlett Packard Enterprise will focus its marketing and PR
efforts on the company's future (in particular, products, services and
especially, customer solutions).  

While acknowledging HP's history is always important (we celebrated HP's 75th anniversary last year), the push in 2016 will be forward looking, so I don't believe a larger 50th celebration of HP computers would be a good fit next year.  We're going to pass on the opportunity....

I hope you're doing well.
Best regards,
Henry Gomez
Executive Vice President,
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Hewlett-Packard Company

Friday, August 21, 2015

a long hiatus for personal reasons

A number (admittedly smaller than I might hope) of readers have asked over the past few months--'Where'd you go?   Haven't seen any updates to what once was a regular blog about HP happenings."


Well, personal life sometimes intrudes on the best of intentions.  And HP seems to have gotten by just fine without my witty, trenchant advice.

But... here I am, ready to sally forth and slay dragons again.

Well, maybe not quite dragons, but at least some scurrying lizards here and there.

What's on YOUR mind about HP, HPE, HPI, Agilent, Keysight, etc?

What's on my mind is just how transitory all of these concerns can seem on occasion.

I just finished reviewing again the "Secret History of Silicon Valley" that Steve Blank did so well a couple of years ago, coupled with re-reading several books about 'the Valley' and its famous folk.  And I was struck by how differently it gets played by various folk.

 The "big three" for Intel--Gordon Moore, Bob Noyce, and Andy Grove--were treated (if that's the right phrase) to a troika biography from Michael Malone, our self-styled Valley historian, in his 2014 book, The Intel Trinity.  And more recently, Arnold Thackray (now a transplanted Englishman via Philadelphia resides here in Menlo Park) finished his tome about Moore's Law: Gordon Moore--Quiet Revolutionary, just in time for the 50th anniversary of that "Law" that has described a ten-million fold increase in device density on micro-computer chips.

Moore's co-author is David Brock, now a research historian at the Philadelphia-based Chemical Heritage Foundation.  Brock and Christophe Lécuyer (a Stanford grad, and Berkeley prof) co-authored and edited the Fairchild papers a few years back, and Lécuyer a decade ago published "Making of Silicon Valley: 1930-1970" so this is an esteemed group working on "our history" right here in "our spot on the globe."

I felt compelled to write an Amazon review for Thackray's new book this morning.  You can find it at which is probably hopeless to put in your browser.  You can also get it by typing Thackray Moore Amazon and then going to the review section, where my very laudatory comments are maybe 2nd or 3rd in the "5" category.

Why do I write all of this here?

Well, it is stunning to me how little interest all of this history seems to generate.  One of the famous Traitorous Eight, Jay Last, provided nearly all of the material for the Brock/Lécuyer book out of a cardboard box of stuff he filched when he left Fairchild 46 years ago.   He is quoted as saying "no one cared for years; it was only when Bell Labs' 50th anniversary of the transistor did anyone realize that this stuff had value."

Thackray's book has endorsements from "everybody" including Walt Isaacson, Clay Christensen, John Hollar (the CEO of the Computer History Museum), Arthur Rock, George Dyson, George Schultz, Carver Mead, Craig Barrett, the Wall St. Journal--and almost no notice on the Amazon reviews page, and minimal sales here in our Valley.  Why?

Steve Blank has an answer--the "kids" think Silicon Valley started with Google and Facebook.  One of his students (Berkeley, wouldn't you know) thought maybe Apple was here earlier.   Asked about Intel, they drew a blank.

I did nineteen focus groups in the Bay area in 2013, asking four questions about the rapid rise of Internet connectivity and usage.  I got 32 companies and 57 people named by 211 people.  Only one named Cisco as one of the top three contributing companies, and when asked who at Cisco, the sober reply was "a married couple from 'here' at Stanford, I don't remember their names, but she was always grumpy."   Cisco, you might recall, built $500 Million dollars worth of routers, something like 60% of all routers in the world.  They are THE reason the Internet happened so fast.   But no one has written that story.

Walt Isaacson's book properly lauds Steve Jobs but ignores the 'lean years' from 1997-2003 when Apple missed the boom (and bust) and Steve's leadership for his first seven years back from exile cut Apple revenue in half and profits to zero.  Any board that wasn't fully controlled would have fired him long since.  There are lessons in these stories but the stories aren't being told, or read when they are told.

So what are the personal reasons I stopped posting for awhile?  Some of you might care....

We moved, to a bucolic horse ranch near the entrance to Sequoia National Park, once we were able to get terrestrial microwave connectivity instead of satellite beams only.  Now we can have a Zoom or Vidyo or Skype conversation with full lip-sync with anyone anywhere on the globe (if they have the same low-latency connection).  Amazing.

We're a little lean on water down here, though.  One of our two wells failed last month--not good for 35 horses drinking an average of 20 gallons per day in hot weather (and 109 degrees qualifies as 'hot' in my book).

The other reason is I've been trying to put a foundation on InnovaScapes Institute for more history and more legacy studies, and it has been a classic set of start-up issues.  But we're now making good strides, and able to talk about some progress.

And GUESS WHAT.  HPE launches November 1, 2015 and HPE Computing @ 50 happens on November 7, 2016.  That is the anniversary of the launch of the HP2116A at the Fall Joint Computer Conference--and there is a monumentally interesting set of stories to tell about that.

More about that later.  Tease, tease....

Good to be back