[time-nuts] Obscure HP T/F instruments in ebay.fr

Tom Van Baak tvb at LeapSecond.com
Fri Mar 20 00:01:19 EDT 2015

> If that is the case, then this stuff belongs to a museum and not on ebay. IMHO.

Hi Attila ,

I completely understand how you feel, but this happens all the time with niche collections. You just can't find a brick and mortar museum interested in taking all that inventory. How many people would travel to city X in country Y to see a collection of electronics made by company Z? So these collections tend to last only as long as the original pioneer behind them is active. Once they are gone, there's a good chance that it all ends up on eBay, scattered around the globe. At least it doesn't end up in recycling or the trash.

Checking current vs. completed auctions for that seller, you'll note that a large number of the good or exotic items have already been sold. I noted that high value items like hp rubidium and cesium standards apparently never made it to eBay, suggesting some cherry picking occurred before the collection went out for bid.

I once thought "HP should have their own museum". But then they split into Agilent, then Symmetricom bought out their T&F line, then they became Keysight, then Symmetricom became Microsemi. With these companies, there isn't strong technical, moral, or business justification to allocate office space and resources to host dusty museums that might only attract tens or hundreds of people a year. They are rightly focused on current and future products, leaving us bottom feeders and nostalgic historians to collect and display the old stuff in our own homes, or on the web.

For me the greatest museum loss occurred when "The Time Museum" in Rockford, IL closed in 1999. This was the best collection of clocks in the world, 1500 pieces from an ancient Egyptian water clock to a vintage hydrogen maser and everything in between. But the heirs of the founder were not into Time or into Museums. So it went to a massive international auction (Sotheby's) and was scattered for all of time.


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