[SIGCIS-Members] HP Archives Destroyed in Recent California Fires

Matthew Kirschenbaum mkirschenbaum at gmail.com
Tue Oct 31 09:36:44 PDT 2017


I was fortunate to be able to visit the Microsoft Archives about five years
ago. They have their own internal facility, very well run, but not they are
not set up to accommodate outsider researchers (or at least they weren't at
the time).

I wonder if one role that CHM might play is as a kind of broker,
maintaining records of contacts at different corporations and making
introductions between scholars and corporate archivists as necessary. In my
case, so much depended on the intervention of a couple of key individuals,
neither of whom are still in place--so the fact is I have no practical
advice to offer anyone who might be looking to duplicate that experience.
But if CHM or some other entity could take steps to routinize such
contacts, making them less dependent on who happens to know or have access
to who, that would be a big assist. Best, Matt



On Tue, Oct 31, 2017 at 12:01 PM, Chuck House <housec1839 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Andy, I think back to Jennifer Light’s wonderfully inspiring talk for
> SIGCIS a few years ago, where she said something to the effect that there
> are roughly 400 computer historians in the world, divided into about five
> camps which deign to speak to each other.   I took that to be an invitation
> for amateur historians to join the fray, hence my little monograph
> “Preserving our Digital Revolution Heritage” (Lulu press--yeah, hardly
> pedigreed).  http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/charles-house/digital-revolut
> ion-heritage/paperback/product-22378873.html
>
>
>
> But I also came back to CHM (where I’ve been a Trustee for 27 years), and
> looked at what we DON’T have instead of what we DO have.  And was frankly
> shocked by the gaping open holes—local companies such as SPC, SGI, SUN, and
> even HP , not to mention Tandem, etc have next to no oral histories on file
> amongst our 800 or so in the collection.   And who selects those?
> Historians, and advocates—not the companies.  So in that sense, Jennifer’s
> comments could be viewed alongside Tekla’s headline as complimentary
> thoughts rather than contradictory.
>
>
>
> We’ve immense tasks ahead of us….
>
> Chuck
>
>
>
> *From: *Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of Andrew
> Russell <arussell at arussell.org>
> *Date: *Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 3:25 AM
>
> *To: *SIGCIS Listserver <members at sigcis.org>
> *Subject: *Re: [SIGCIS-Members] HP Archives Destroyed in Recent
> California Fires
>
>
>
> Brian, thanks for sending this around and keeping this issue in view.
> Thanks also to Chuck for being vocal about it.
>
>
>
> The headline and framing of the Spectrum article bothers me, asserting
> that this is "a wake-up call for computer historians."
>
>
>
> We would be hard pressed to find any computer historians - or any
> historians, period - who don’t already know that more should be done to
> preserve and maintain records of all kinds (including corporate archives)
> and make them available to researchers.  Len Shustek’s response yesterday
> underscores CHM’s considerable effort and investment in this area, and
> there are dozens and dozens of subscribers on this list who also do this
> kind of work (staff at CBI & Hagley jump to mind, but there are many
> others).
>
>
>
> This is as good a time as any to highlight David Kirsch’s work on this
> subject (through the examples of the Dot Com Archive and the Brobeck Closed
> Archive), nicely summarized in http://www.digitalpreservat
> ion.gov/series/pioneers/kirsch.html.
>
>
>
> Andy
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Oct 31, 2017, at 2:04 AM, Brian Berg <brianberg at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> A thread I started on another listserver resulted in this story:
>
> *Loss of Hewlett-Packard Archive a Wake-Up Call for Computer Historians
> <https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/tech-history/silicon-revolution/loss-of-hewlettpackard-archive-a-wakeup-call-for-computer-historians>*
>
>
>
> Note the important comment from HP at the end of this story.
>
>
>
> Brian Berg
>
>
>
> On Mon, Oct 30, 2017 at 3:44 PM, Chuck House <housec1839 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I stand corrected, thanks
>
>
>
> *From: *Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of Len
> Shustek <len at shustek.com>
> *Date: *Monday, October 30, 2017 at 3:33 PM
> *To: *SIGCIS Listserver <members at sigcis.org>
> *Subject: *Re: [SIGCIS-Members] HP Archives Destroyed in Recent
> California Fires
>
>
>
> At 02:32 PM 10/30/2017, Brian Berg wrote:
>
> Chuck House responded to me re: this sad news with:
>
> *...5. Ironic, that the Computer History Museum here in town, never tried
> to get this archive*
>
>
> That's not true. We had a good relationship over the years with the two
> main HP archivists, and offered many times to get more involved with their
> archive -- ranging from getting a copy of the catalog, to getting copies of
> documents, to taking it over. They declined our participation.
>
> We weren't as aggressive as perhaps we could have been because HP was one
> of the few companies (unlike many others I could name) who seemed to be
> taking the preservation of their history seriously, and they were putting
> resources into the effort. Clearly that wasn't enough.
>
> Len
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> _______________________________________________
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-- 
Matthew Kirschenbaum
Professor of English
Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
University of Maryland
mkirschenbaum.net
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