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Andy Grove has died (intel.com)
1333 points by sajid on March 22, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 166 comments

I'm sorry to hear of his passing. My first job in the Bay Area was working for Intel in Santa Clara, and I worked in the same building that Andy did at the time (Santa Clara 4). It amazed me that he had a cubical (well it had slightly higher walls but was still just a cube.) I have two very influential memories of my time at Intel, the first was when I went to a design update meeting on the 80386 and Andy locked the door to the room at the time the meeting started, a couple of people who should have attended in person were stuck waiting in the hall. The second was that when we had one of our "business update meetings" (which really was a layoff was happening to the people who weren't in the meeting so we called them "BUMmer" meetings sometimes). Andy said that because Intel was losing money the slowest of all semiconductor companies we were by definition the best semiconductor company in the world.

Both of those experiences left me deeply impressed with how focused he was on the path forward. What ever was happening around you didn't matter, it was "Put one foot in front of the other and make progress against the goal now." kind of focus.

Wow.same, I worked in building 5 in 1997 - I recall "going pee next to Andy many times" - other than this interaction with him I didn't really talk to him much.

I recall asking the question then "why can't we stack cores on top of each other" and being told by very senior engineers how stupid that idea was...

Working at Intel was actually the golden age of my gaming experience; I worked in the game development lab and played video games to test SIMD extensions 18 hours a day.

I recall going out to a balcony in SC5 and having a cigarette, there was some person from finance there, and after chatting with him for a bit I asked why he was working so late; he was trying to figure out how to recode the finance system to add additional spaces to the finance DB to allow for the many billions they had in the bank. Apparently the fields were initially set too short to handle the numbers as large as they were dealing with...

Andy was an incredible person.

As for "going pee next to Andy many times", Szilard was trying to switch from physics to biology and was housing for ideas at Karolinska.

He visited Klein, who happened to follow him to the bathroom and saw blood in the pot after him. As a non practicing doctor, but avid observer, he quickly diagnosed him with cancer. Szilard then signed up for one of the highest doses of radiotherapy in humans. He survived both the therapy and the cancer and lobbied afterwards to set up EMBL (with Viki Weisskopf, patterned after CERN).

ChuckMcM, with apologies for veering off-topic, you've got so many interesting stories re Intel, Sun, etc. Have you considered writing a book about your experiences? I'd buy it.

> I went to a design update meeting on the 80386

I remember dreaming about a 386 back in the day when I was a kid using a soviet 8086 clone..

It seems so incredible that these things were created by real people.

I always kind of thought that aliens were building these chips .. Still do sometimes.

its probably all those old Intel commercials where it shows alien looking robots creating the chips!

He was CEO when I joined. Highly respected guy.

Thinking about it and "second sourcing", it is funny how not that long afterwards they used marketing tactics like the 486SX/487SX fiasco to compete with AMD's 386DX. I wonder what would have happened if for example Intel bought Compaq instead back in 1991 (instead of Compaq having to cut R&D for example).

One of the reasons I left Intel for Sun was that Intel had just realized that "lots of people" making x86 chips was a bad thing for their control of the market. There were no less than 6 suppliers of 8086 chips. But with the 80286 and the 80386 it became clear that "owning the processor" so that they could claim a big chunk of the profit on every PC sold was very very important to the company. That strategy, while unpopular with the technical community, worked out very well for Intel.

Andy was a driving force behind that shift, his view that "only the paranoid survive" was that you had to believe everyone was out to get you in order to avoid surprises from your "friends." And as much as I hate to admit it, he was correct in that view.

I really find it hard to understand what drives these people. Let's say he cornered the entire market and sold 100% of CPUs. What then? Why?

Don't they want the best for the world, and isn't that clearly going to come through competition? I just cannot fathom their motives. Same for any line - fast food chains? Do they want everyone in the world to eat their burger every meal? Why?

I guess I need to buy one of his books to try and find out!

One of the chief arguments for ARM and other MIPS-like ecosystems: they are much more diverse, therefore evolve better on the long run than a tied-down monopoly (Amd used to push Intel on many fronts, ie 64 bits, SIMD, RISC core etc)

btw: Intel isn't a CPU manufacturer. It is a factory for manufacturing processor factories: they are one level of abstraction higher.

> btw: Intel isn't a CPU manufacturer. It is a factory for manufacturing processor factories: they are one level of abstraction higher.

Can you elaborate that a bit? I mean I'm completely ignorant about CPU manufacturing, your statement is very intriguing.

What exactly do they manufacture when you say they manufacture factory of CPUs? Design?

> I just cannot fathom their motives

Maybe start with "swimming in your vault full of money like Scrooge McDuck".

Nah I don't think this is what gets them out of bed every day.

They want their company to continue to exist so they can continue doing what they do. How did it work out for all the other CPU vendors from 1990?

isn't that clearly going to come through competition?

Not if you think you're the best! Consider that: if you are in the position where you think you have by far the best product, then wouldn't you want to share it with everyone? In that case, the competition is working against the world's best interests.

In this case, they were second-sourcing meaning that they were manufacturing Intel's CPU designs.

Go and ask the ghost of Zilog past about competition rewarding the best technology.

Yea, I know the history. The point being that Intel buying say Compaq would obviously allow them to claim Compaq's profits instead, and maybe eventually driving all other PC makers out of business (by the low margins) instead of making the same undifferentiable "beige boxes".

I was thinking he meant buying x86 competitors or burying them via patents. Intel both patents and buys patents on plenty of CPU-related tech, esp for x86 compatibility. Alpha and Transmeta CPU's come to mind immediately. Things just kept disappearing until we were down to basically three companies: Intel, AMD, and VIA. AMD had to pay Intel for I.P. with VIA being a niche player running losses despite some good tech.

So, I.P. control from purchases or threats could keep Intel on top of competition for a long time. Worst case was they end up in an oligopoly position where they can still pull huge profits.

Everyone else (ARM etc.) has a monopoly on the ISA or they don't even publish it (NVIDIA etc.) Intel actually makes perhaps the most open commercially significant platform.

That's far from true. We've been able to license ARM and MIPS ISA's plus implementations for a long time. They and Intel defend theirs with patents. SPARC, the most open of old ones, could be used without license fees or patent risk at all. You just had to make it ISA compatible then pay a $99 fee. Gaisler has a SPARC CPU and pile of SOC HW under GPL that ASIC proven even on radhard, space applications. Enterprise versions selling for a premium exist from Oracle and Fujitsu.

I'd say Intel is not that open at all given the secrets remaining, patent protections, and lack of competition. POWER is slightly more open with PowerPC embedded implementations. ARM and MIPS are more open since they actively license implementations. The most open is SPARC ISA hands down given every aspect is usable with source available for several CPU's.

Well, currently shipped SPARC's volumes are relatively low AFAIK, and ARM and MIPS (now IMG) are in fact monopolies, they just happen to license the ISA & the implementation because they choose to do this. Intel does not choose to let AMD and VIA ship x86 CPUs and in this sense it's less of a monopoly. Of course you could argue that ARM is more open than x86 in some other significant sense; here I think that the PC is a more open platform than perhaps any widely shipped ARM-based system, in terms of the variety of available operating systems and software and the ease of developing such software, especially if said software is to have reasonably wide applicability and long shelf life, and also in terms of the degree of control that any single entity has over the platform.

In general I think that the "vertical disintegration" where you have fabs which are open to everyone making chips integrating cheap IPs, instead of companies with their own fabs, has destroyed "openness" - it used to be the case that you knew exactly what the hardware was doing, and it is now the case that you need to sign a draconian NDA to program most of the components in most chips, and this option is only available to select "partners." x86 is an older product and hence more open than most successful newer products; it was perhaps less open than its competitors at the time, which in part explains why it was more successful than those competitors... (A closed platform is a kind of a high-risk, high-reward game.)

OK. Well, we have to consider that. There's companies making money on the ISA's and implementations. Intel's main business is the ISA and implementation of x86. By that standard, they have quite a huge chunk of a oligiopoly with only 1 real competitor and a niche competitor in low-power space. For ARM, there are at least 10 companies that fully licensed and extended the I.P. plus academics doing their own. Additionally, Intel and AMD extend their own stuff in their semi-custom business whereas I can extend ARM or MIPS myself after licensing it. The PC builds on blackboxes from Intel and AMD plus a few others that differentiate at the board level. Barely a comparison to ARM, MIPS, etc differentiating at SOC and transistor level.

So, Intel is dominant in their ISA, its implementation, and in a profitable way. ARM and MIPS don't come close despite their monopolies on the ISA's themselves.

"x86 is an older product and hence more open than most successful newer products; it was perhaps less open than its competitors at the time, which in part explains why it was more successful than those competitors... "

This is news to me. Far as I knew, it dominated desktop due to backward compatibility and other strategies. It wasn't open in many ways. SPARC and PPC even adopted OpenFirmware while Intel still had closed microcode updates. It's still the least open ISA of the high-sellers.

"In general I think that the "vertical disintegration" where you have fabs which are open to everyone making chips integrating cheap IPs, instead of companies with their own fabs, has destroyed "openness" - it used to be the case that you knew exactly what the hardware was doing, and it is now the case that you need to sign a draconian NDA to program most of the components in most chips"

That I agree with. Fortunately, there's work from companies and academics to change that with actual silicon being prototyped. This will be an uphill battle but is becoming feasible. The main drawback is that the cost of EDA and prototyping means closed I.P. might stay the norm. Only exception is if we can get academics to put key I.P. in public domain as they develop stuff. PCI or USB here, analog stuff there at 45-90nm at least. Make it cheaper.

"Far as I knew, it dominated desktop due to backward compatibility and other strategies. It wasn't open in many ways." - we're agreeing here, I said "it was less open than competitors at the time, which was perhaps one reason for its success." The only part we're disagreeing about is, I think it's more open than newer products (as a part of the general trend of hardware getting more closed.)

I worked on chips which included both ARM and MIPS CPUs; I don't think it makes ARM or MIPS "open" in many of the ways that matter, because, for one, programming those chips without the consent of the company that made them is very problematic both technically and legally. So ARM and MIPS in practice are "open" to select partners who make chips which are in turn "open" to select partners, unlike the PC where you have not only Windows, Linux, BSD etc. but things like MenuetOS and TempleOS and it's both legal and technically feasible to do this kind of thing. Of course this isn't due to Intel or anyone else behind the PC being more benevolent than other vendors, it's just an older platform and closeness wasn't or at least didn't seem as important for profitability as it is today. Here BTW Intel's focus on backward compatibility is very helpful - low-level software for the ARM or MIPS becomes obsolete more quickly and developing working low-level software for newer version of these in a timely manner might require partnering with the vendor, AFAIK. Basically ARM and MIPS are way more open than x86 to me as a chip architect (although an ARM architecture license AFAIK costs $30M or so... meaning that a lot of chip makers ought to take whichever implementation ARM provides and you're at their mercy to a much greater extent than you'd often desire), but they are far from fully open and then they're way less open than x86 to the users.

And then both MIPS and ARM are pretty old... the trend of really closing everything, where you can't get any spec without partnering with the vendor, didn't take off until maybe the 2000s.

I wonder what it'd take for open IPs to gain significant traction in hardware. It's easy to come up with reasons for them to fail or succeed but it's not easy to predict which reasons will end up more dominant.

"I worked on chips which included both ARM and MIPS CPUs"

That's really neat. Especially as I work a little on methods for secure HW/SW design. Mostly done with digital side of ASIC methodology but still custom digital and analog stuff to figure out. Appreciate any tips you have on such threads where I'm exploring.

"So ARM and MIPS in practice are "open" to select partners who make chips which are in turn "open" to select partners, unlike the PC where you have not only Windows, Linux, BSD etc. but things like MenuetOS and TempleOS and it's both legal and technically feasible to do this kind of thing. "

So, back then, ARM and MIPS I.P. holders didn't allow a PC-like product to be built with their chips? It was custom negotiated for every product with no platforms available? I could see you calling that less open and the ecosystem hit it would have.

"I wonder what it'd take for open IPs to gain significant traction in hardware. It's easy to come up with reasons for them to fail or succeed but it's not easy to predict which reasons will end up more dominant."

Inherently safer or language-specific ISA's like jop-design.com or crash-safe.org. Microcontrollers where any royalties are eliminated to further lower costs. OEM's targetting hobbyists and/or idealists that want maximum freedom. Anti-subversion efforts where multinational pride kicks in with an ISA like RISC-V being remixed allows everyone to feel like the owner. Tools or projects for processor design in academia where they just want something to work with and build rather than screwing around with I.P. and legal risk. Wait, that last one already happened and I already named it. ;)

So, given you've done hardware, what do you think of my recommendation that market wanting OSS hardware just build on Gaisler's SPARC products? There's a configurable CPU (Leon3) and substantial I.P. library already GPL'd or licensable. Probably closer to MIPS than ARM in price. There's also a 4-core version. One could put them right in an ASIC with Pi- or Novena-style boards w/ SPARC ecosystem (esp BSD/Linux) leveraged immediately. Alternatively, really my touch, is swapping out SPARC-specific stuff (eg instruction handling) for RISC-V so all the I.P. just magically supports a RISC-V solution. Open I.P. can gradually be developed to replace it, maybe keep using Gaisler's proprietary source where compelling, stuff is 90+% ASIC-proven from start, people can inspect, paid get paid, everyone is happy.

Regarding the PC ecosystem vs the ARM and MIPS ecosystem - I'm not sure what happened back when MIPS and ARM made chips, just that most of their volume came when they were IPs, and at that point chip makers were keeping things rather closed. I'm pretty sure both Intel and say MS do not see the PC as the ideal model for their business, they just happen to profit more from it than they would from an attempt to kill it.

Generally, today ARM will sometimes break OS-level code between releases - something Intel would never do - and I think ARM does this because it sells an IP, not chips, and so in any case the only way to sell a CPU to a consumer is through a chip maker licensing ARM and then porting OSes to the new chip - and the chip maker can handle ARM-related breakage while they're at it. But it does not follow that ARM is to blame for most chips being closed and/or hard for an OS unsupported by the chip maker to work on the chip across its various generations; I'd guess that most of the difficulty comes from the chip-level breakage and lack of documentation, not CPU-level issues of this sort.

So IMO it's not that ARM or MIPS actively prevent(ed) the emergence of an open platform like the PC while Intel was pushing for open platforms; it's that Intel happens to have succeeded mainly selling chips for an open platform, while ARM and MIPS happen to have succeeded mainly selling CPU IP for various closed platforms.

Regarding the SPARC IP that you mentioned - I'd have to look at it more deeply to have an informed opinion. Generally for a chip vendor who wants source code, as opposed to wanting an open source IP, MIPS is just fine, they'll give you the source. Otherwise what you want from your CPU vendor varies (ARM for instance gives you not just the CPU but everything you need to build say a cellphone application processor - probably not the best one on the market, but a completely functional one. At the level of the CPU itself, you might want a bunch of things - like hardware virtualization support, or cache coherence with other processors, etc. etc. - that different vendors support differently, if at all.) So as I said, I don't think I have a serious opinion about the product you mention.

Nowadays there is ARM SBSA which aims to resolve the problems and allow a PC-like product to be built (the main reason such a thing didn't exist before is lack of interest). In the meantime the GPL helps to ensure at least the source code for the drivers for the Linux kernel are revealed.

BTW, notice the "server" in the ARM SBSA name.

POWER is FAR more open than Intel. You can actively license it just the same as ARM (not to say the licensing terms are the same, but the concept is).


I put it between Intel and ARM because I still didnt know what I got at what price after reading OpenPOWER website. I have that data for ARM, MIPS, and SPARC.

So, what's an OpenPOWER license cost, the royalties if any, and does that come with ASIC-ready implementation?

Not really. Unlike Intel, ARM licenses their ISA to anyone who's willing to pay. Every single modern iPhone has an entirely in-house Apple implementation of the ARM ISA and they're definitely not the only ones

If Intel bought out Compaq in 1991 history would be different. I used Compaqs around that time. They had small pizza boxes with 386 and 486 CPUs in them.

I'd imagine Intel would make Compaq PCs with their other chips like the 80980 and other chips.

Maybe make Unix workstations with RISC chips using HP-UX.

I imagine we would have ended up with even more Smart Array RAID controllers; a truly terrifying dystopian vision.

Unlikely in desktop PCs.

Compaq also made x86 server equipment, which is one of the reasons they were assimilated by Hewlett Packard. Compaq developed the initial versions of the Smart Array RAID controllers, and were working with Intel (amongst others) on the thankfully defunct Intelligent I/O Architecture (I2O) on which the Smart Arrays appear to have been based.

> it was "Put one foot in front of the other and make progress against the goal now." kind of focus.

i am finding in my own startup that this is the only way progress is made. you just keep going, if at all possible.

I had the privilege of meeting Andy Grove a few years ago after he expressed interest in learning what our startup was doing to advance medicine. At the time, he was already clearly suffering the physical effects of Parkinsons, but mentally he was completely with it.

He listened without saying a word for ~15 minutes while I explained what our startup does. Then, he began "If I were you, I'd..." and proceeded to tell us specific ways he thought we could better focus our business. His advice was relevant and demonstrated a crisp understanding of our business and many of the challenges we'd face over the next several years.

My natural inclination was to jump in and start pushing back, but I just stop and decided to listen and learn from this business legend. I left extremely impressed. Even today, several years later, we're still executing on many things he foresaw after a brief interaction.

Strange -- about the same timeframe, already with Parkinsons, a flagship neuroscience lab in Oxford also tried to approach him for research money. Without success.

For those who are interested in knowing more about Andy Grove and the early days of Intel, I highly recommend Tedlow's biography. Of all the biographies or business histories I've read, I can't think of one which does a better job of making you feel like you're hanging out with him, hearing his war stories, and getting a real feel for what kind of guy he was and what drove him and his company to success.


Tedlow did a wonderful Google Talk about his book:


Wow, cool, thanks for sharing this!

I read this book about Andy Grove and Intel in high-school, made a huge impact in my career choices.


Thanks! While we're at it, do you have an opinion on Michael S. Malone's /The Intel Trinity/ http://www.amazon.com/The-Intel-Trinity-Important-Company/dp... ?

Just wanted to mention that in the last several hours, the price of a used hardcover copy of the book on Amazon has gone from $0.01 to $2.93 (which probably represents about 30 copies sold).

Actually kind of incredible to see this sort of inventory change happen in real time.

(I bought the cheapest "very good" condition item for $0.41 + shipping)

It's incredibly cheap in comparison to the UK. Guess there just aren't as many used copies here.

Thanks. Just bought a copy.

Are these the same book?



There doesn't seem to be a Kindle / ePub version, unfortunately.

I'm sure there will be one, now that he passed. At least, I hope it will.

Grove's High Output Management is highly recommended. It's a masterpiece of management theory and practice.


I was going through a difficult period at work last year and picked up High Output Management on the recommendation of a thread I came across somewhere here on HN. It didn't help save my job. But it did help me see what competent management looks like and helped me preserve a bit of my sanity.

One thing that struck me as emblematic of Grove's generous and effective management style is that nowhere in the book does he have a section addressing the difficult task of letting people go. I kept waiting for it. Instead, he focuses on the challenge of retaining talent stating that's the toughest job management confronts.

The book made me really wish I worked for an organization he was in charge of.

Ben Horowitz talks about letting people go in The Hard Things About Hard Things. Really a great book in its own right.

I just learned about it and Andy Grove a couple of days ago, which really puts the "oh, this person would be cool to talk to" and the "oh, that's not happening" awkwardly close.

But some view books as a receptacle of the authors mind, a time capsule that allows them to share thoughts with you even centuries after they have passed. Guess I'll have 2 more to look forward to.

I am enjoying reading High Output Management as well. If you like that, you might enjoy this intro to the new version from Ben Horowitz:


I am in the middle of reading HPM, sad to hear. Andy Grove's writing has a lot of the same flavors of Paul Graham, but for a more corporate setting. The no-nonsense attitude towards meetings, and also understanding the challenges of decision making through meetings resonate with me.

Andy Grove was an immigrant to the US and a political refugee. Worth noting in today's political climate.

Also, an immigrant from a country that was communist and behind the Iron Curtain, from a time when communism and its lands were held in fear and loathing similar to how terrorism and the Middle East are viewed today.

Worth thinking about next time Syrian refugees come up, but I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

PBS did a great documentary "Silicon Valley"[1] (not to be confused with the show), which I highly recommend.

It tells the amazing story of how Robert Noyce, Arthur Rock, Gordon Moore, and Andrew Grove were absolute pioneers and insanely gifted. A huge loss.

Here is the first 15 minutes of the documentary on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcOoQP7nhl4

The effect of Grove's talent was only made obvious when he retired and the company started to drift seriously sideways with their forays into VLIW and stupidly deep instruction pipelines. His ability to steer a company through what was perpetual chaos against relentless competitors is almost unparalleled.

They didn't have it easy like Microsoft did where they were virtually the only game in town. They almost lost their position to AMD on more than one occasion, and were under constant pressure from Motorola, IBM, Sun, MIPS, DEC, and others all intent on capturing a dominant position in the highly lucrative desktop and server markets.

Where hard drive makers would have a few years of glory before burning out or getting folded into another company, and where few CPU manufacturers had the talent to survive more than a decade, Intel not only popularized the CPU, but kept a near strangle-hold on the market for over two decades. They're still number one by a number of key metrics even with the increasing pressure from ARM.

Few companies from the Intel era in the 1970s have survived intact. The only one I can think of is Seagate out of hundreds from that era.

I doubt few will ever measure up to Grove in terms of impact.

"They didn't have it easy like Microsoft did where they were virtually the only game in town. They almost lost their position to AMD on more than one occasion, and were under constant pressure from Motorola, IBM, Sun, MIPS, DEC, and others all intent on capturing a dominant position in the highly lucrative desktop and server markets."

You're way overstating that. You're whole post, but especially that one, totally ignores the concept of lock-in due to ISA, OS, and library backward compatibility. And first mover advantage, patents, and the Microsoft/Intel partnership. It's amazing how successful a product can be when attempting to clone or ditch it can sink an entire business or its profit margins. And especially if it's cheaper than UNIX/RISC or mainframes on top of that. ;)

Note: I'm an Intel and Windows opponent who can't do shit for specific customers of theirs with legacy apps due to the above. They want benefits of other things but can't switch. I can say same about certain mainframe shops. I'll be able to say same about Oracle/Java and certain cloud shops 10 years from now. I bet you $100.

Intel didn't have as many protections as Microsoft did. The attempts to clone Windows, such as the efforts of companies like Parallels and WINE, never came close to being 100% compatible.

AMD managed to navigate a patent minefield and ended up with a 32-bit compatible chip that was basically a drop-in replacement, the user would barely notice the difference unless they went looking for one. The Athlon XP became a serious competitor to Intel's then flagship Pentium series. AMD was also the first to come up with a workable 64-bit IA instruction set that Intel was later forced to adopt because of widespread popularity.

Microsoft has never faced pressures like that. Windows is not something you can simply swap out. Switching from Intel to AMD was simple, your software would hardly notice, but from Windows to another OS has always been a massive headache.

Barely. Intel had a headstart and was default in market. They pulled in more money overall plus charged more for the chips. Gave them big R&D advantage. There were compilers, too.

AMD usually played catch up, usually tot for tat making less money, got ahead big on 64bit Opteron, and then Intel caught up. Today, Intel bough Altera while people talk up Xilinx buying AMD. World of financial difference first mover, IP, and lockin can make, eh?

I hear you, but on the flip side, there are companies out there that don't get locked in. Usually reflects quality of leadership at the very top and a lot of luck.

That's true, too. One has to be devious and effective to create a multi-part, lock-in strategy.

>The effect of Grove's talent was only made obvious when he retired and the company started to drift seriously sideways with their forays into VLIW and stupidly deep instruction pipelines.

Not to take anything away from Grove, but a lot of the focus on deep instruction pipelines can probably be traced to certain software partners being concerned about scaling across multi-core.

As for VLIW/Itanium, I expect some of the same motivations were in play--plus, a desire to reset and lock-out the various x86 clone makers.

I'm sure they had the right ideas, but they strayed way too far from the fundamentals.

Remember that in Grove's time Intel was getting clobbered in benchmarks by the DEC Alpha chip and was struggling to keep up with the PowerPC consortium. It was through their relentless pursuit of clock-speed at any cost that they prevailed.

Unfortunately they slammed into the 4GHz barrier earlier and harder than the competition and went into a spiral of confusion for nearly half a decade. Adding more and more stages to their pipelines was the primary strategy for pushing higher and higher clockspeeds.

What saved them in the end was the very pragmatic and practical Pentium III platform, the one introduced a few years before Grove retired, not the outlandish and massively power hungry Pentium 4 architecture.

Grove did seem to keep the company focused on relentless incremental improvement. This is in stark contrast to the later Intel which showed unbelievable hubris with their VLIW effort thinking that people would spontaneously adopt a whole new architecture just because. Maybe they listened to their partner HP way too much as that company is quite clearly utterly clueless.

the very pragmatic and practical Pentium III platform

You mean the Pentium Pro platform? Pentium III is just Pentium Pro with off-package L2 cache and SSE instructions. The P6 microarchitecture kept Intel in business from 1998 (when the P5 line concluded) until the Nehalem architecture launched in 2008.

Technically the Pentium III is just a cleaned up and polished Pentium Pro, it's true. That basic design had a very long run, and is still going if you're going to include products like the Xeon Phi as a direct derivative.


I wouldn't call it dead yet. It's still paying dividends.

Right, I didn't mean to imply that the P6 design was dead. Just that once Nehalem launched in 2008 Intel had another alternative. From 1998 until 2008, the P6 was basically the only workable design Intel had available.

For an earlier perspective, Here's a 1983 Tom Wolfe essay about Noyce and the founding of Intel, briefly mentioning Andy Grove at the end.


Gordon Moore created Moore's law and Andy Grove made it happen.

Loved this book http://www.amazon.com/Only-Paranoid-Survive-Exploit-Challeng...

Highly recommend Swimming Across - Andy's autobiography of his childhood. The biography Life and Times of an American picks up from there with the first ~50-75 pages recounting the story Andy told in his own words in Swimming Across. Remarkable story - a life well-lived in the face of incredible early challenges to be sure.

What a loss. High Output Management remains one of the finest books on our industry that I have read, and I'm glad we have that to help carry his torch forward.

It may just be a function of my own middle-age, but we seem to be losing more of the old Giants - in politics, arts and commerce, and looking ahead, everyone seems, well, smaller in comparison.

Just as software without silicon to run on is, well, smaller, the software moguls of today can only run on hardware because people like Andy put it underneath them a generation before.

"I strode among giants, friends tell me now, though at the time I felt like a misfit associating with oddballs." - Steve Roper, Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber.

Perhaps that is less true of Groves, who came from the lineage of Bell and Shockley. I'm sure it applies to the great technologists of our future.

High Output Management has dramatically improved the culture, communication and output of our company. I live a better life because of what this man learned and passed on. Thanks Mr. Grove, you are a giant.

Your comment just made me go purchase the book. Thanks.

Andy was brilliant and driven. After he retired from Intel, he worked to help find a cure for Parkinson's, from which he suffered. I wish that story had a happier ending but it does demonstrate the fight in him.


One of the Valley's founding fathers. May he rest in peace. If you haven't read it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679762884?keywords=high%20...

Tribute to Andy Grove with Ben Horowitz. Worth watching.


Intel was my first job out of college not all that long ago. I met Andy very briefly at an event through the company and was incredibly impressed (and intimidated obviously). My experience of Intel had its ups and downs but I always had the utmost respect for those who came before me and laid tracks for an industry and company that changed the world. The loss of Andy, while inevitable, is profoundly sad.

After reading Only the Paranoid Survive and High Output Management, I have a deep respect for Andy Grove and the work he did to make Intel an enduring company. He'll be missed.


Read his book "Only the Paranoid Survive" many years ago, he fought for cancer before I think, also remember his cubicle and no-reserved parking as mentioned here. What a great man.

One of the only books I've consistently recommended is High Output Management[1] by Andy Grove. His methods for dealing with complex interconnected problems was as brilliant as it was when he wrote it 30+ years ago.

1. http://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove/dp...

RIP. I'm in the process of re-reading High Output Nanagement, which was only one of many contributions Andy Grove made to the world.

Thank you for everything you did.

I have some very distinct memories of my Junior year of high school. One was a trip to San Francisco, which impacted me greatly. I also remember sitting in the summer sun, reading every article I had collected about Sean Fanning and Napster (I gathered all of the relevant tech/lifestyle magazines at the library).

I was already well-aware of the sweeping changes technology was making in the world when I found Only The Paranoid Survive on my uncle's bookshelf. I think it was that book that really hammered home how quickly things were changing, and really astounded me, teaching me a bit about technology, a bit about business and a ton about inspiration and drive.

Whenever I hear Andy's name, I nostalgically return to that summer, a time filed with learning and stretching my perception of things. This news makes me very sad, but also is making me return to that place. I feel lucky to have been around the same time he was.

I'm so sorry to read that Andy Grove has passed away. He was an inspiration at many levels. In addition to his technical and social accomplishments he was a living argument for free immigration into the United States. My deepest respect and condolences to his family.

One of the smartest thinkers and all the greatness, but he was also the person who told Steve Jobs "I don't give a fuck about apple" and Jobs respected that.

I'm ashamed to admit that I'd never heard of Andy Grove until today. I did find a great discussion of High Output Management by Ben Horowitz that may be useful to fellow uninitiates: http://a16z.com/2015/11/13/high-output-management/

Worth watching, contains and interesting an segment about Andy Grove's and Robert Noyce's relationship with each other at Intel. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/silicon/


Interesting words from Andy Grove in 2010. Bonus refutation of Thomas Friedman.

His article on taking on cancer is impressive and an example for all of us: http://www.phoenix5.org/articles/Fortune96Grove.html It is truly worth the read

As a City College engineering school alumn, thank you for your donation. RIP Dr. Grove.

We are living in a such period of time that we see lots of great inventions from great people, how they push technology forward, how they change our daily lives and see how they are leaving us :(

Sorry to hear his passing away. He was an icon in the valley. Intel won't be where it is today without him. He was one of those who brought on the PC revolution.

Working my way through High Output Management. Great Teacher

Sorry to hear he passed away. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read his books. I intend to write a review under this comment once i'm done.

RIP - having read his memoir, and his management books, I've deep respect for his work and principles that he advocated. He'll be missed

There's been a string of pioneers in the field of computing who have passed recently, but Andy Grove was truly a titan amongst giants.

RIP - reading high output management now. Truly amazing individual.

sorry to hear that. Read his book "Only the Paranoid Survive", When I was in high school, and it inspired me a lot R.I.P

This the immigrant that really made it all possible

Hard nosed, no bullshit fighter. Rest in peace.

Only the Paranoid Survive!! RIP

From Wikipedia,

>Grove's office was an 8-ft by 9-ft cubicle like the other employees, as he disliked separate "mahogany-paneled corner offices." He states, "I've been living in cubicles since 1978 — and it hasn't hurt a whole lot." Preferring this egalitarian atmosphere, he thereby made his work area accessible to anyone who walked by. There were no reserved parking spaces, and Grove parked wherever there was a space.

It seems like early Intel and HP higher ups were more in tune with egalitarianism as well not being aloof or unapproachable. The Moore foundation has been an amazing charity. Here in Santa Cruz, Andy Grove built a house out on one of the streets near the beach between Santa Cruz and Capitola. He worked with neighbors (according to local press) to not be out of place in the design, etc.

Contrast that with Zuckerberg and his recent building issues, or how many modern C-levels want their out of the way offices, etc.

Maybe it was just a different time.

Gates also is known for having built a home that stood out. It's not about the era its about the person.

There was much fan fare over all the technology Bill Gates put into his house. It was interesting to read, especially in the context of home automation these days.

I worked with people who helped Jim Clark with some of his home automation in the early/mid 2000s.

My point in general was I think the Silicon Valley elders of old, Grove, Moore, Packards (I know multiple individuals who benefitted from the Packard Children's fund w/ pre-mes. (sp?), etc. were much more community and outward focused than that which we see today.

There are people here and there, but a lot of what gets glamorized or talked about tend to be more selfishly oriented individuals.

Gates, early on, stated his kids weren't getting a huge part of his fortune, I consider his works on par (via the Gates Foundation) as those of the Packards. That said, the Packards have been very local vs. Gates more international (maybe it's need, size of endowment, etc).

> That said, the Packards have been very local vs. Gates more international (maybe it's need, size of endowment, etc).

Given the international needs are fare more pressing, I'd say the Gates have the right objective.

>My point in general was I think the Silicon Valley elders of old, Grove, Moore, Packards (I know multiple individuals who benefitted from the Packard Children's fund w/ pre-mes. (sp?), etc. were much more community and outward focused than that which we see today.

That is a fascinating observation. I was alive and in the biz back then, but I've burned an awful lot of brain cells between then and now and don't have a particularly objectiv eview of things.

Why do you think folks then were outward focused? Was there less competition so more focus on "doing something really cool", or leftover 60's 'free love' culture, or less shitty traffic in Silicon Valley, or...?

I think this is viewing the past with rose-tinted glasses. I recall the same exact complaints being leveled at the 1980's tech generation.

I'm being selective about comparisons, but it's a matter or proportion, and things then were way more subdued.

Ellison, Jobs (mainly on the woodside mansion and not being charity oriented), Clark, etc certainly contrast with those I mentioned.

I think 80s-90s had seriously strong personalities emerge that get to the core of what you mention. Yet around that was much more down to earth philanthropy, etc.

I don't see that same balance today.

I think it depends on the route they take up the mountain. You can be brilliant or you can be brilliant at taking shortcuts.

The shortcut takers are generally more insecure and that manifests in different behavior once they reach the top.

In 1994 when I lived in Seattle I recall hearing how gates place in Medina was reviled by craftsman as he had hired some of the top of their field to do various things but was too picky. I recall that his entry way to the house was built by some master wood crafter, but gates was not happy with this mans work on several iterations; the guy was basically doing "once-in-a-lifetime" work and gates would have him tear it out and restart... More than twice.

I don't know how true that is, but that was the story at the time.

Other than that, I got a speeding ticket for going 26 in a 25 mph zone very near his house and was super upset at how lame that was.

It's Medina. You got a ticket for being in Medina and not being a resident. The speed was merely incidental.

Yeah, but since he's trying to give all his money away, it's kind of a boondoggle of the mid 90's. https://goo.gl/maps/jxsqBmwVBPD2

It is extravagant but hardly stands out. You can only see it by boat if you already know where to look.

I think there used to be some gangly red steel sculpture down by the lake that you could spot. I haven't sailed past there in years, though.

"Maybe it was just a different time."

Ellison's 200 million dollar house set on 23 acres, suggests that selective memory might be playing a role.

Hah yeah my buddy David who built his yachts said to me that Ellison decided that his $220mm yacht wasn't big enough, so he wanted to sell it for a $400mm yacht...

Now he has a 600mm fucking island of the STATE of Hawaii!!

One must not throw around the term 'volcano lair' loosely, and yet...

I didn't say all. Ellison likes to engage in public endeavors like the America's Cup. One reason Jim Clark wanted Netscape to go public was to cover the cost of his Yacht being built at the time.

There are certainly those that benefitted from the 90s boom that aren't particularly ... humble... in the sense as I mentioned Moore, Grove, Packards, etc.

Or its generational.

Grove was a generation older than Gates, never mind Zuckerberg. His early years were also in wartorn Europe, not USA.

You still can find big execs that control billions of dollars sitting in cubes next to engineers, planners, and admins at Intel. One of my favorite things about working here is how they don't even seem to know it is different. (Intel employee)

Can confirm, once worked next to one of those high ranking execs. He wasn't there often (mostly traveling) but his cube was the same size as mine, a lowly engineer.

Can we get a black bar on top of HN?


Yes, we definitely need a black bar here. Grove set the tone of a lot of what we take for granted in Silicon Valley, like a meritocracy, no offices for execs, the best idea wins regardless of who suggested it, etc.

Now's a good time to announce the end of the black bar.

Now is possibly the worst time.


> believes in Islam (and thus its exhortations to violence).

Religious flamewars are not welcome on Hacker News. Please don't comment like this again.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11335414 and marked it off-topic.

> Religious flamewars are not welcome on Hacker News.

I respectfully disagree that my response was in any way a 'religious flamewar,' or an invitation to one, but I won't say any more out of respect for the Mr. Grove's passing.

I would normally be one of the least likely persons to point this out but: "believing in Islam" (i.e. identifying as Muslim) is not the same as believing that violence in the name of Islam is justified or justifiable.

There are myriads of sects of Islam (just like Christianity) and the particular group everyone is talking about these days (i.e. ISIS) actually most closely resembles a modern revisionist unorthodox theology that has little to do with garden variety fundamentalist Islam.

In a nutshell: most Islamic sects build upon centuries of theological texts and interpretations of the original scripture. This can still yield dangerous conclusions (cf. the various fatwas inciting violence against individuals or groups) but ISIS throws this body of opinion out and substitutes a radical "unfiltered" return to the original scripture itself.

While there are Syrian refugees who hold dehumanizing religious opinions combing them all over the same brush is akin to saying all Christians support the bombings of abortion clinics because there are interpretations of Christian scripture which would find it justified.

The situation is incredibly messy and this is indeed not the best place to discuss it in detail but overgeneralizations like "Muslim == supports Islamist violence" help no-one and only serve to incite tensions (which is exactly what attacks like those in Paris and Brussels are intended to do).


Please don't post like this here.

Why not ? Evocation of his masterpiece of a business book in the form of a pun that only the knowledgeable will get feels quite on-topic to me for this site's audience. Besides, I have been waiting all his life for this chance to make that joke...

It's fine for sites that specialize in snarky one-liners, but being both uncivil and unsubstantive, it doesn't belong on HN.

Jokes sometimes do ok on HN if they're particularly clever, but lame/obvious ones tend to get hammered. But it's really the incivility that's a problem here. Using someone's death as fodder for internet humor is not a good fit.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11333465 and marked it off-topic.

This is unfortunate. I think it could not be more on-topic. It is as much about the legacy impact of his choices as the parent comment onto which I made it, and it seems exceedingly hypocritical to detach it.

But nonetheless I accept your choice. What other option do I have.

Bunking with the troops sounds a hell of a lot nicer as a gesture than what the usual exec in a company would have done: give himself a corner office with a nice view while the rest of the company spends their time in windowless cubicles.

He wasn't promoting it per se, he was merely using it. Also, I think it is in poor taste to use this moment to attempt to draw attention away from the matter at hand to make it seem like he purposefully did something negative.

I don't see how it's a nice gesture. Not only does it fail to improve what is bad about the conditions, but also it creates an unspoken rule that you're not even allowed to complain, not even allowed to hope, for something better.

Wearing tattered shoes and claiming they are "good enough" isn't a nice gesture nor is it helpful for the person who badly needs better shoes. Instead it's a message: deal with the bad stuff because I am dealing with it.

As for whether it's poor taste, I guess, I don't know. I'm responding to a comment on an internet thread, a comment that could be misinterpreted as supportive of open-plan offices, and I see the effect of that as socially bad. I mean no disrespect, but I'm also going to speak up for what I believe matters.

You're taking a sympathetic act and you're twisting it out of proportion just so you can promote your hobby horse. I don't personally like cubicles either but I'd far prefer the managers of the company to dogfood what they believe is best for their employees rather than that they create a better situation for themselves. If you don't understand why if every manager did that you might actually achieve your goal then that's just too bad.

Bloomberg, a company famous for an executive who expressed this same "down in the trenches" preference for cubicles, famously does not have offices.

Far from their "egalitarian" culture leading to acceptable working conditions over time, it has only enshrined the idea that no one, ever, may have an office.

It is much better that some people have offices even if not all do, for then at least there can be a path to earning the chance to work in one. Some hope. When they are all taken away under the guise of egalitarian conditions, you can bet they are not coming back.

I think you're missing the point with Bloomberg. The whole idea with that place is that they don't like offices: they don't want anyone to have one because they think offices are a bad thing. They think people work better in one big giant, open, noisy room. A bunch of companies these days have bought into this philosophy, and a bunch of young hipsters think it's great.

So Blooomberg hasn't eliminated offices to try to oppress people as you're implying, or because of any egalitarian ideals, they've done it because they genuinely think it improves productivity. You and I probably agree that this is incorrect, but we're not Michael Bloomberg. I know that I would hate working in that environment, but I know about it so I don't apply for any jobs at Bloomberg. Many of the people who work there probably actually like it that way; extroverted people like very different environments than introverts.

I used to work at Intel back when we had 8x9 cubicles, and now, after various different jobs and different working conditions, I now think it was one of the best work environments I've ever had. I briefly had a walled office at one place and that was nice too. But the 8x9 cubicles were pretty good; we had "do not disturb" signs we could hang across the entrance to keep people from bothering us, and things were generally pretty quiet and I could concentrate and work and not have to see people all the time. After that, things went downhill: cubicles got smaller, then the walls got shorter, they went away altogether, as companies jumped on the "open plan work space" concept to various degrees.

I agree with your description of Bloomberg's beliefs and motivation for it, and I agree that many other organizations, especially start-ups, cargo cult on the back of this.

Since the belief that offices are bad in terms of cost or productivity (e.g. Bloomberg's belief that people work better in noisy, open spaces) is demonstrably and quantitatively incorrect, and inflicts undeniable mental and physical health problems, it's all the more important to vocally argue for private working conditions as a social issues.

This isn't about my specific preference. It's about what the data says, and has said for decades.

By comparison, if some company said that workers worked better in a room filled with second-hand smoke, we wouldn't care whether or not they believed this. It's simply a wrong and harmful belief that ought to be stopped. In other words, we should not allow Bloomberg's management to impose a demonstrably unhealthy working condition (violent lack of privacy) regardless of whatever incorrect fictions they happen to use to justify it.

There's a problem with your analysis: you're assuming that people are all the same, and that work is all the same. Do you have any evidence to support your assertion that noisy, open spaces inflict "undeniable mental and physical health problems", or is that just your personal belief? This isn't like smoking: there is zero evidence that smoking is good for your health, and all kinds of evidence that it causes health problems, because our shared basic biology is consistent enough that this is true.

For one example of a work environment where noisy, open spaces seem to work well, just look at stock traders at NYSE on the trading floor. That whole environment works by people being close to each other and able to turn around and talk to each other at a moment's notice. I sure as hell wouldn't want to work there, but there are people who seem to like that environment.

I don't like open-plan offices either, but I'm not going to assume that what works for me works for everyone else. From what I've seen, the type of people getting involved in programming in recent years are not the same type of people who got involved in it back in the 70s and 80s, so it's quite possible these offices really do improve productivity overall. It's also possible that certain personality types gravitate toward certain industries, so certain workplaces work better in those industries than in others. The people interested in finance are probably not the same kind of people interested in, say, programming Arduinos. Maybe Bloomberg's office really does work out well for them. I don't have any data to disprove their beliefs, other than my own personal bias, but I can't claim to speak for all programmers.

I'm hardly assuming people are all the same -- that's the very thing that places like Bloomberg, which standardize on a one-size-fits-all model for the sake of cheapness yet come up with political stories to plausibly defend it, are doing.

I'm saying don't make all seating open-plan. Don't allow mandates for one-size-fits-all seating. For those who require privacy to be productive, spend the money required to give it to them. For those who thrive in a constant communication stream, spend the money to give it to them.

I'm not going to Google the pile of evidence mounting against open plan offices for you.

But I will say that I worked in quant finance for a while and the idea that an open trading floor is needed, even at the exchange, is a big lie. It's about status and showmanship, and functions as nothing but a hindrance to completing actual job duties.

Open-plan fire-drill quant finance was the first work environment that actually showed me how much of a lie it is. Every single person hated it, and at least in part the bonuses and inflated compensation was required just to get people to engage in the Sisyphean task of trying to get their work done in that environment. It was like hiring Usain Bolt and asking him to break the world record for a 100m sprint -- but to do it in your swimming pool.

There are many high frequency shops and quant hedge funds where they need real-time audio links between traders, and yet they still organize into private offices and use teleconferencing and workplace chat, and it ends up being far more effective than having them physically colocated. In one case, I even remember one of the primary researchers was given special permission to live in San Francisco even though the entire rest of trading team worked on the East Coast, simply because he had family reasons that required him to be on the West Coast. It didn't degrade communication or knowledge sharing, even in rapid trading situations, at all.

That all sounds great, except that if every single person hates these environments, and there are "many" shops that have private offices, why aren't the places like Bloomberg failing because they can't find qualified people to work there (and/or their productivity is lousy compared to their competitors with private offices)?

This is a fallacy of presuming the market (in this case labor) has to be efficient, and that any irrationalities would be arbitraged away (better employer swoops in and eats Bloomberg's lunch by providing better workspace) and so therefore whatever we do happen to observe must be the rational, efficient, market clearing condition.

This is absurd of course. If true, then literally every aspect of employment in every company would be the 100% optimal condition as expressed via preference negotiation between employers and candidates and there would be no components of working life that are systematically worse off for the employee. Surely you can't be claiming that? If employment is efficient, why are there things like Occupy Wall St? Not that Occupy is right or wrong, but why would it exist? Why wouldn't those companies, with policies people find socially toxic, fail to find enough applicants and be forced to change policies in response to the market?

Their ability to find workers and make money is not very related to whether their practices are unhealthy or destructive, as is the case with open-plan nonsense too.

Why do any market irrationalities persist? Often there is an aspect of market manipulation. In the labor market this can occur by focusing on hiring visa-based workers and using their visa status as discreet leverage to force them to never complain about conditions. Many companies also do actively illegal things, like threaten employees with retaliation if they discuss their salary, in efforts to prevent collective bargaining and depress employee negotiation power over attributes like workspace.

The more disconcerting thing is the way that younger generations of programmers, basically my generation and younger, have been psychologically manipulated into believing that "dynamic" and "collaborative" are synonymous with open-plan, and they are afraid to express any dissatisfaction lest they are downgraded to "not a team player." It breeds what Michael O. Church described as "macho subordination" -- a desire to compete to be seen as most "loyal" by making a public display of willingness to bottomlessly compromise even basic dignity in the work place, so that anyone who stands up for realistic, humanity-affirming conditions is immediately labeled "toxic" and exiled. The workers enacting this don't even know any better, and few of them have had to take a phone call during the work day about a family tragedy, or discuss an awkward medical condition as they schedule a doctor's appointment, or something, and they place low value on such privacy mostly from a position of naïveté.

Anyway, the circular logic of saying markets must be efficient, therefore whatever we observe in markets must be proving their efficiency is patently ridiculous.

You're right that markets are not 100% efficient. However you have some faulty logic here.

>If employment is efficient, why are there things like Occupy Wall St? Not that Occupy is right or wrong, but why would it exist? Why wouldn't those companies, with policies people find socially toxic, fail to find enough applicants and be forced to change policies in response to the market?

Your assumption here is that the entire population agrees with OWS. They don't. The people who work at those companies are perfectly happy to work there, and are not the same people who were in OWS. OWS wasn't even about employment, it was about Wall Street doing things which wrecked the economy, and getting away with it, and with the economy as a whole not working for many sectors of the population.

The economy is working just fine for people on Wall Street. Why would they complain about it? People working on Wall Street are getting paid well. They're not complaining. The complainers at OWS were people who were not working on Wall Street, and they certainly weren't protesting work environments in Wall Street companies.

You do have good points about H1-B visa abuse and prevention of collective bargaining. But this is still orthogonal to open-plan offices. Right now, the employment market for software developers is very strong, probably one of the healthiest employment markets in the American economy right now. Companies are competing with each other to hire talented employees in this market. If a work environment were really that bad, they'd have a hard time keeping people around. This is, in fact, exactly what the US government is complaining about right now with IT workers; they can't keep good one around because the pay is so much better in industry and you don't have to wait around for months for a background check.

>The more disconcerting thing is the way that younger generations of programmers, basically my generation and younger, have been psychologically manipulated into believing that "dynamic" and "collaborative" are synonymous with open-plan

Now this is hitting the nail on the head. Younger people actually believe this kind of environment is better, more "fun", etc. So employees are willingly signing up to work in these places because they're drunk the Kool-Aid.

Then go work for a company that provides offices. As an employee, that's your choice and you are welcome to subjectively value egalitarianism exemplified in this way versus hierarchical "perks" that manifest in personal offices.

My goal is to lobby for broad social change, not merely to locate one single private workspace for just me. Complaining about what is wrong with it is a good way to help others, who might not have even considered that workspace should be treated as a negotiable option for them and reflect their personal work style and needs, and potentially create more momentum among the crowd that reads HN, to help set the trend that it ought to be considered unreasonable when an employer whitewashes over human variation when it's actually more cost-effective to provide offices to any knowledge worker who prefers one.

Cubes dysfunctional? Interesting. Your opinions are strong.

I prefer working at home, but individual offices were a nice touch if I had to be in the office, the worst of all worlds was "open offices".

A senior executive not using his role to be away from the other employees is incredibly rare these days.

Paul Graham expressed this much more strongly than I have, and he wrote about it over 10 years ago:

"After software, the most important tool to a hacker is probably his office. Big companies think the function of office space is to express rank. But hackers use their offices for more than that: they use their office as a place to think in. And if you're a technology company, their thoughts are your product. So making hackers work in a noisy, distracting environment is like having a paint factory where the air is full of soot.

The cartoon strip Dilbert has a lot to say about cubicles, and with good reason. All the hackers I know despise them. The mere prospect of being interrupted is enough to prevent hackers from working on hard problems. If you want to get real work done in an office with cubicles, you have two options: work at home, or come in early or late or on a weekend, when no one else is there. Don't companies realize this is a sign that something is broken? An office environment is supposed to be something that helps you work, not something you work despite.

Companies like Cisco are proud that everyone there has a cubicle, even the CEO. But they're not so advanced as they think; obviously they still view office space as a badge of rank. Note too that Cisco is famous for doing very little product development in house. They get new technology by buying the startups that created it-- where presumably the hackers did have somewhere quiet to work.

One big company that understands what hackers need is Microsoft. I once saw a recruiting ad for Microsoft with a big picture of a door. Work for us, the premise was, and we'll give you a place to work where you can actually get work done. And you know, Microsoft is remarkable among big companies in that they are able to develop software in house. Not well, perhaps, but well enough."

from Great Hackers section called "The Final Frontier"


I agree that open plan is the worst, but cubes are a close second, and both types of space are not as cost effective as private offices (even in dense urban areas).

If the executives want to be "egalitarian" about it, then raise the conditions of everyone up. Don't act like a proud martyr and lower your own conditions. It's patronizing and solves none of the problems. Plus, executives who do this will always find other status games to play if they want to feel superior, so it's never really egalitarian anyway.

Please stop.

Why don't you delete the parent comment?

We never delete comments outright unless the author asks us to. We do kill comments as part of banning a user (killed comments aren't deleted because anyone with 'showdead' turned on can read them), but going offtopic and getting a bit overheated isn't something we ban people for.

dang - I am fine with deletion.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11334283 and marked it off-topic.

So straight-up censorship is a thing on HN now?

I don't know how this could be argued off-topic when it directly pertained to the parent comment. If anything the parent comment was off-topic, and I found it unseemly that oska would use the occasion of Mr. Grove's death to promote a political agenda.

I felt compelled in the interest of Mr. Grove's memory to point out the flaws in oska's statement.

Was this really a joint decision, or is that a royal we?

Glancing at your comment history, dang, it becomes apparent that the ratio of pleasant to unpleasant interactions you have on this site is quite lopsided.(excuse my presumption)

So I just want to say thanks for all the actions you take to make HN a better place, even if I don't agree with them all.

I wouldn't call it censorship, but that word has so many different meanings.

I didn't see oska's comment as particularly political but now that you mention it I suppose we could have just marked the whole subthread off-topic. Your reply, though, certainly was, since it stopped being about Grove and went into racial speculations... a bad sign on HN at the best of times. Also the going on about downvoting was super off topic and explicitly against the HN guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Most importantly, though, thanks for taking the time to also express good will. That was nice of you and I really appreciate it.

This is such a strange comment, but I'm finding it hard to put my finger on exactly why. It's something to do with how you're happy to make generalisations about Jews, but careful in how you demonise Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans.

> It's something to do with how you're happy to make generalisations about Jews, but careful in how you demonise Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans.

That's the part you found odd? That part's not so strange, people are OK with generalizations when they are positive, and not OK when they are negative.

It's combining the two subjects that I found offputting.

It's probably strange because it describes a basic reality of the world, but one that so many people strain to avert their eyes from.

I'm not making any generalisations about Jews. Just conveying what looking at any Sunday Times, or Forbes rich list will tell you, or what looking at the annals of scientific history or the recipients list of Nobel prizes will tell you, or what looking at a list of highly regarded concert pianists or violinists will tell you, etc. etc.

But I'm not much interested in going back and forth about this, the facts are the facts. And I already found it strange that oska took a thread of this sort as an opportunity to promote an agenda that is basically against the interests of all involved, i.e. mass migrations of cultures into lands where they are wholly incompatible with the native culture.

And I suppose the Palmach, Irgun and Stern gang were made of....

Those are two unrelated things. You should not have combined them that way. And the second one is very very offtopic.

You want to congratulate Jews for having a culture that produces people like him? Do it.

But the behavior of other people has nothing whatsoever to do with him.

The behaviour of people whos "orthodox" are able to discuss gods-rules en detail and find workarounds - has everything to do with how you percive the world and approach everything. Its a mindset word approaching.

I too thought it was off-topic, but unless I'm mistaken that's what oska was referring to. S/he brought it up, don't chastise me.

And you're right, they are mostly unrelated. That was the point of my comment, oska attempted to relate them by making a false equivalency, and I corrected him/her.

I get your point, but if something is offtopic, it's offtopic. Don't reply just because someone else brought it up.

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