This two-part interview series with Joel Birnbaum is insightful for his unique role as both the IBM research Vice President and later the Hewlett-Packard research Vice President. He led IBM’s original research team with John Cocke investigating and prototyping RISC architectures, and followed that by bringing RISC technology to HP and applying it much more broadly to new computing domains.
The first interview primarily covers Birnbaum’s schooling, family, and career at IBM, with poignant insights into how IBM research was conducted, and how Birnbaum was lured to HP. One key story is how the original RISC work was done quickly, in a planned partnership with Ericsson to change telephony computing. Multiple insights are provided regarding specific projects and people that were at IBM Research.