|Re: "Losing the HP Way"|
Message #7 Posted by Ellis Easley on 26 Mar 2002, 10:17 a.m.,
in response to message #4 by Frank Glitz
In the article you pointed to regarding 9100 docs -http://www.chac.org/engine-ascii/engv2n3.txt - the interview with Barney Oliver - there is the following passage [KC is Kip Crosby who wrote for the newsletter. The discussion leading to this point concerned the successful 9000 series workstations that had to be developed "under the radar" of company management]:
"KC: _But there was another reason for some hesitation as regarded computer development. A part of management was very dedicated to continued computer development; another part of management saw that much more could be done with calculators; and a third part was committed to refining and upgrading instrumentation, so that you were almost involving three companies in a philosophical sense. That may have created a reluctance to put more than a certain number of eggs in any one basket._"
"Oliver: I'm not as conscious of that as I was of our trying to do things.... That leads to an issue which I'll try to illustrate. It has been traditional, in development work at HP, that we try to make a contribution in every instrument we bring out. We're not content to put a new face on something; we really want it to perform better in the sense of advancing some specs by significant amounts, or by making a good product more cheaply, whatever, but there must be a contribution. And so when we got into the PC market, for example, we wanted to make a contribution -- we used the paradigm of pushing the spec, but in that market it was less appropriate. There were all kinds of things on those machines that the customer didn't understand, didn't know about, or didn't use, which therefore just sat there and were wasted. Finally we tumbled to the realization that in a PC, what you wanted is not contribution in that sense but compatibility, and the contribution is going to come about through more efficient internal design, or enhancements to the operating system or something like that, or maybe it doesn't have anything, just reliability, and a good price, and then you're in better shape to compute because the software is coming out of Microsoft and everybody else, so we have done better with that philosophy. But we had to have good engines first."
I'm not trying to put Tandy on a par with HP, but when Tandy started building IBM compatibles, they also wanted to add enhancements. The Tandy 1000 was more compact that an IBM PC and had better graphics modes, sound, and joystick interface (partly from the IBM PC Jr.) The Tandy 2000 had a 16 bit bus CPU (80186), ran almost twice as fast, came with twice the memory, and had twice the graphics resolution of the IBM PC, and only claimed to be compatible at the BIOS level. But Tandy also came to realize that compatibility was all that mattered. And they went on to have some success with machines like the 4000, their first 386 AT compatible. I thought it was a mark of success when I saw it being used on "The Computer Chronicles" to demonstrate software products - both the show and the developers thought enough of it to put it on the air.