EARLIER THIS month, INQ was over in the US right in the midst of the terrible California wildfires that destroyed an area the size of New York City. Even further south in San Francisco, the sheer scale of the fires made the air cloying and acrid.
But as well as the human loss (over 40 people to date) it caused, the people made homeless as property (including the final home of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz) was indiscriminately destroyed along with irreplaceable wine vineyards and crops of medical marijuana, we now discover there was a loss for IT as well.
It has been revealed that the Tubbs Fire (one of the three major constituent fires) consumed the archives of William Hewlett and David Packard.
More than 100 boxes of history including personal notes and correspondence perished when two portacabins at the site of Keysight Technologies were razed. Keysight had inherited the documents during various mergers and demergers over the past 80 years since the Hewlett-Packard company was started in 1938.
Many connected with HP Inc and HPE have questioned why the collection, recently valued at $2m and representing over half the companies' total archive value across its sites, wasn't better protected, but Keystone's Jeff Weber, speaking to Press Democrat via email said: "Keysight took appropriate and responsible steps to protect the company archives, but the most destructive firestorm in state history prevented efforts to protect portions of the collection
"This is a sad, unfortunate situation — like many others in Sonoma County now. This is a time to begin healing, not assigning blame."
But Karen Lewis, a former HP archivist who worked on assembling the collection said, "This could easily have been prevented, and it's a huge loss," adding that previously the collections had been properly protected.
Although the total HP archive was valued at $3.3m, of which the bulk is now gone, some have said that the value isn't calculable in purely monetary terms with Weber adding that Keystone is "is saddened by the loss of documents that remind us of our visionary founders, rich history and lineage to the original Silicon Valley startup."
The lost documents date back to a Palo Alto garage (sound familiar?) dubbed "The Birthplace of Silicon Valley".
Their final resting place is still not fit for working in with employees currently being relocated to a former HP site in Somo Village, Rohnert Park which is currently being frantically kitted out to accommodate 900 staff while restoration work takes place at the Keysight campus.
Although the wildfires received relatively little coverage in the UK, they have devastated a wide area of rural Northern California and it still remains to be seen how much more historical loss has been suffered. µ
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