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

Bill Hawkins bill at iaxs.net
Fri Mar 20 01:33:18 EDT 2015

There are worse things than breaking up a collection.

The Baaken Museum of Electricity in Life, near Minneapolis had a
wonderful series of devices that used electricity to examine or prolong
life, or to extract money from suckers. About 20 years ago, someone felt
that there wasn't enough traffic at the museum, so the interesting
exhibits were removed and the museum dumbed down for children. A vampire
might greet you at the door.

It seems that modern business managers have no time for things that
don't draw crowds or fly off the shelves. If a museum or business wants
to serve a market niche, it must compete with the incessant blizzard of
advertising from the companies that just have to grow. Combine that with
such companies expectations of productivity, and no one has time to
search for interesting museums, never mind go to national parks.

I would have been fascinated by and supportive of the French HP museum,
had I known about it. I did not even dream such a place existed, but it
makes sense that it was in Europe. Amsterdam has a science museum that
lifts children's interest rather than going down to the lowest level to
draw more people.

In regard to dumbing down, the movie "Idiocracy" seems predictive.

Bill Hawkins

P.S. The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting (radio) is still hanging on.

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Van Baak
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2015 11:01 PM

> 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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