Thoughts from the Loo

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Saturday, February 22, 2003

[E][C] Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

There has recently been a fair number of articles (e.g. this one) on problems besetting Agilent Technologies, not the smallest of which is one of visibility, or lack thereof. If you don't know who are they, I don't blame you. Agilent was born when Hewlett-Packard spun off its core business (whatever Carly Fiorina might think what their core business is supposed to be), that is that of measurement and instrumentation. During 70's and 80's (and earlier, but I don't remember that) HP was synonymous with top quality instruments from multimeters to digital oscilloscopes and logic analyzers, and later medical insrumentation and that for semiconductor and chemical industry. First digital electrocardiographs, ultrasound diagnostic equipment and such were born in HP Laboratories, a research establishment probably surpased only by those belonging to AT&T and IBM. About the time the revenue from computers (which began as mesurement automation tools) reached half the corporate total, the company decided to gamble and consolidate its many hardware and software lines on its own RISC architecture and UNIX, another industry first.

And now? HP is just HP, not Hewlett-Packard any more, lives on comodity items such as cheap printers, and talks about trying to start attracting not only home PC users, but corporate customers too. Bill and Dave must be spinning in their graves...*

*) Is that correct phrase in English, too?

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