I hate to kick people while they’re down (that’s a lie), but this right here, as dumb things go, is way the fuck up there.
When deadly flames incinerated hundreds of homes in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood earlier this month, they also destroyed irreplaceable papers and correspondence held nearby and once belonging to the founders of Silicon Valley’s first technology company, Hewlett-Packard.
The Tubbs fire consumed the collected archives of William Hewlett and David Packard, the tech pioneers who in 1938 formed an electronics company in a Palo Alto garage with $538 in cash.
More than 100 boxes of the two men’s writings, correspondence, speeches and other items were contained in one of two modular buildings that burned to the ground at the Fountaingrove headquarters of Keysight Technologies. Keysight, the world’s largest electronics measurement company, traces its roots to HP and acquired the archives in 2014 when its business was split from Agilent Technologies — itself an HP spinoff.
The Hewlett and Packard collections had been appraised in 2005 at nearly $2 million and were part of a wider company archive valued at $3.3 million. However, those acquainted with the archives and the pioneering company’s impact on the technology world said the losses can’t be represented by a dollar figure.
This is dumb not only because modular building is often little more than a fancy term for shed and any idiot knows (or so I thought) that a shed is no place to store millions of dollars worth of irreplaceable documentation, but also because the whole thing was entirely preventable. In fact I have a pretty good feeling HP itself might’ve had just the solution.
Even the newspaper seems to want to rub it in. Why else would this story have been assigned to one Robert Digitale?