What And Why
The HP Computer Museum was a collection of old Hewlett-Packard computer hardware, software, documentation and other marketing materials from HP's early years in the computer industry (beginning in 1966). The museum was not a commercial enterprise; it was a privately funded resource for the enthusiast and for the curious. Until November 2022, the museum was housed in a 2500 square-foot building (shed, really) in Melbourne, Australia.Photos of the museum as it was in July 2017 can be found on our Facebook page here. In November 2022, the museum's collection of vintage HP equipment, as well as this website, was donated to the Hewlett Packard Company Archives, located in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The museum’s original long-term goal was to have working models of all computers and peripherals produced by Hewlett-Packard during the company’s first 25 years in the industry (1966 to 1991). The museum also contained some interesting examples of HP computer technology from the post-1991 period. The collection does not include any HP instruments.
The period of greatest innovation in any industry occurs during the birth and early growth periods. This is true of the computer industry and of HP's involvement in the industry. HP is one of only two major “survivors” of the early entrants in the computer industry, the other being IBM. It is interesting to track HP's progress in the industry and to speculate as to why HP survived into middle age when almost all others failed. From a historical perspective, HP is most notable for its pioneering company culture “The HP Way”.
The Museum Web Site:
The museum’s web site is maintained by the Hewlett Packard Company Archives as a resource for those interested in HP's early years in computing. We have reserved copyright on our photographs primarily to prevent possible misrepresentations in the “internet world”. The web has a very active market for second hand computers, and we would hate to see our pictures used to misrepresent an auction, for example. In most cases, we are happy to approve the use of our photographs. Please contact us first. If you spot an inaccuracy in our content or have any suggestions on how we might improve our site, please contact us.
Web Site Statistics:
The web site consists of: 7000 manuals and documents, 4200 photos, 1050 hardware items and 500 downloadable software titles. In 2015, we averaged just over 14,000 unique visitors per month, generating just over 300,000 hits per month. By country (in descending order), the biggest users of the web site are: USA, China, France, Italy, Ukraine, Russia and South Korea. About 75 percent of our visitors come to us from bookmarks on their browsers, 5 percent come via links from other sites and 20 percent find us through web searches. We welcome any help we can get in developing our site.
How To Find What You Are Looking For:
The museum’s web site contains items for which we have either a physical unit, manual or a technical data sheet. In most cases, we have at least two of the three. If you are looking for a specific item, use the "Search" function. Type in the product number or name of the item you are looking for. The web site's product descriptions are very brief. For detailed technical information, go to the product you want, then click on the "Product Documentation" menu selection for a listing of all literature available on the product. Also, be sure to check the main product classification page. On this page, we post product literature that relates to more than a single product. For example, you can find information on the 9816 on both the "9816" page and on the "200 Series" page.
If you are only interested in information for a particular category of products, use the "Advanced Search" function.
Most of the posted documentation requires Adobe Acrobat 6.0 (or later) to view. Use the main menu selections on the left to browse the museum by product type. These classifications are general groupings of types of products or series of products. To get a complete listing of all exhibits and materials on the museum's web site, click the word "Documents" at the bottom of the main menu on the left. This is a long list.
Donating, Buying, Selling, Trading:
From the passing of the Museum's founder in 2016 to the transfer of the collection to the Hewlett Pacakard Company Archives in mid 2022, the collection was maintained with ongoing repairs and maintenance as time permitted. In building the collection, the museum used all means of acquiring new materials. About ninety percent of the items in the museum came via donation. As the museum no longer has a collection of physical hardware, software or documentation, we are no longer receiving donations of physical items but can still accept digital copies of documents and software that are not currently in the website.
Ongoing Priorities and Future Directions for the Museum:
Recreating and preserving HP computing history is an ambitious undertaking. The museum website is now in a maintenance mode, kept active to support the interest of those who are interested in the history of computing at HP. While the museum no longer has any physical artefacts, the website provides access to a wide range of digital artefacts for research and educational purposes.
At the time of the passing of the museum's founder, Jon Johnston, the museum priorities were:
- Maintaining and preserving the current collection was our priority. We knew from speaking with HP and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, that we had the largest collection of HP Computing equipment produced between 1966 and 1991 in the world. As time goes on, these items become harder to find, not easier and there were still plenty of holes in our collection when it was transferred to the HP Company Archives. In addition to hardware, software, manuals and other documentation, we collected company newsletters, division newsletters, videos old computer industry magazines and other items.
- HP Division Histories. Decentralisation was a key contributor to the growth and success of "The HP Way" culture. With few if any exceptions, it's much easier to enjoy working for a small company than for a large company. HP divisions were the small companies for which HP employees worked. The museum is compiling content on the development of HP computer divisions including maps, photographs, histories and division newsletters.
- Identification of Individuals. The museum would still like to hear from as many of the original creators of the museum's content as possible. Specifically, we would like to identify: members of product development teams, manufacturing, production and marketing engineers, writers of documentation (manuals and promotional literature), models in photographs (manuals, catalogues and promotional literature), authors of software, etc. If you are such a person or knows who is, please let us know.
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The HP Computer Museum and BGImages Australia are not affiliated with HP Inc. or with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Hewlett Packard and the HP logo are trademarks of HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. This website is intended solely for research and education purposes.