Artifact Details

Title

Birnbaum, Joel oral history part 2

Catalog Number

102780991

Type

Text

Date

2014-03-19

Contributor

Birnbaum, Joel S., Interviewee
House, Chuck, Interviewer

Publisher

Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA

Extent

56 p.

Format

PDF

Description

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 second interview primarily covers his experiences at HP, trying to get the company to understand “systems” rather than “products”. He opens with a brief review of several IBM Fellows and his relationship with them, then moves to the opening findings at HP about its different culture—especially its embrace rather than rebuff of the central research group. RAS = reliability, availability, and serviceability—were big items he had to teach.
Small things mattered—partition heights, vinyl vs. carpet floors, skylights. And science projects vs. practical projects—big difference in goal and outlook and reward.

Birnbaum talks at length about pervasive vs ubiquitous computing, and the “domesticated computing” phrase, and ‘the painting’ which generated its own form of ‘hate mail’ to his surprise. He describes his vision of information appliances, using either “Batman’s Belt” or the Swiss Army knife as metaphors, and he closes by extending that to today’s tools from Apple.

Category

Transcription

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection

Credit

Computer History Museum

Lot Number

X7119.2014

Related Records

102746891 Birnbaum, Joel oral history