Artifact Details

Title

Henry, Glenn oral history

Catalog Number

102738381

Type

Text

Date

2017-08-07

Contributor

Henry, Glenn, Interviewee
Krewell, Kevin, Interviewer

Publisher

Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Austin, TX

Extent

46 p.

Format

PDF

Description

Glenn Henry was born in 1942 and grew up in the Berkeley, El Cerrito, and the East Bay area of Northern California. He went to school at El Cerrito High School which was a feeder school to University of California, Berkeley and had a strong focus on science and math. Henry skipped a grade and started taking classes at UC Berkeley as a senior at age sixteen.

Glenn’s interest in computers date back to at least twelve, when he tried to build a tic-tac-toe computer out of relays. At twenty-one, he left Berkeley and got a job as a lab technician at Shell Development, the research arm of Shell Oil Company in 1963. A few months into the job, Shell Development got an IBM 7040 and he learned how to program the IBM 7040, and writing applications for the spectroscopy department.

After getting a Master’s degree in Mathematics, he was researching real-time control computers. His interest led him to a new computer, the IBM 1800, and eventually to a job at IBM in San Jose. Later, Henry moved to Boca Raton to work on the IBM System/3 Model 6 BASIC. That project became the IBM System/32, which, before the PC, was the largest selling IBM computer. From there he moved to Rochester, MN.

In Rochester he worked on advanced computer systems concepts that got him an IBM fellowship. That system was the System 38, which later became the AS/400. After Rochester, Henry moved to the IBM Advanced Technology group in Austin and produced the IBM RISC Technology PC, or RT PC. Henry became convinced that PCs were the way to go and joined the PC group.

While living in Austin, a young Michael Dell moved into his neighborhood. Henry found he had similar interest as Dell. who had a rapidly growing business in PCs. Becoming frustrated with IBM’s direction in PCs, he decides to quit (a rarity for IBM Fellows) became the first Dell manager of the R&D group, and later led manufacturing at Dell. But managing a large group was not what Henry preferred. Eventually he gave up manufacturing and became CTO. Henry still yearned to be part of a smaller team and decided to go back to building processors.

He met Len Perham, CEO of IDT, which licensed MIPS cores, who funded Henry’s small chip company, Centaur, to build processors that supported MIPS. But Henry had a vision to also support x86 instructions for PCs. The IDT “WinChip” was introduced at the 1997 Fall Microprocessor Forum.

Unfortunately, IDT decided it no longer wanted to be in the x86 processor business and Centaur was sold to VIA, a Taiwanese company. The WinChip embraced the philosophy that small is beautiful, small team can move quicker, and can do more and small CPU chips has the advantage of lower cost. He continues to be his own CTO of Centaur (still owned by VIA) and is busy with a new project. He also has an eclectic collection of vintage computing machines dating back to WW II.

Category

Transcription

Subject

IBM; Centaur; Dell; CPU; x86; MIPS; CPU design

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection

Credit

Computer History Museum

Lot Number

X8307.2018

Related Records

102738382 Henry, Glenn oral history