back to article Processor pioneer Victor Poor dies of cancer at 79

Victor Poor, whose death was announced this weekend, isn’t one of the first names to come to mind among computing history, but he played a pivotal role in the development of Intel's early architectures that went on to dominate modern computing and is a legend in ham radio circles. Poor, along with fellow radio enthusiast and …


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  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Fascinating history, and I never knew any of it!

  2. Baudwalk

    I realise it's inevitable...

    ...that these are the very years that quite a few of the pioneers of the tech industry are going to expire, but I can't say I'm happy about it.


    "Personally, I don’t endorse the notion of mortality." -- Kinsey Millhone

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Packard Bell 250

    Packard Bell? Really? *THAT* Packard Bell? The same one that made crap PCs? Wow, I seriously didn't know that brand went that far back.

    1. Chris Miller

      Not really

      An Israeli company bought the rights to the name for their PC startup in the 80s. It's now a division of Acer. You're right about them being crap, however.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not really

        Not as rubbish as the service from PC World though. I remember an ex having a Packard Bell and when the hard drive died (chip blew on it with a pop) they said they would re-image the machine to repair it lol.

        Obviously when they realised it was a component failure they weren't well prepared. They got a drive in and to set the Master/Slave mode (IDE days) they bent the pins so they touched. Have they not heard of jumpers?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Packard Bell 250

      Exactly what I thought, talk about tarnishing an important name. Next someone will be telling me Advent or Saisho were important early computers..

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Packard Bell 250

      Probably bears as much relationship to the original company as Cray does to the outfit that Seymor Cray founded in the late 60's.

  4. DrG


    How come the bio in the NY Times is so different?

    I'll take a wild leap of faith and say TheReg's story is a lot closer to the truth, but still amazing how they seem to be 2 very different stories.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    73 OM

    ...and Hans Camenzind died the other day. He invented the 555 timer IC.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 73 OM

      I'm sure he would have agreed that he designed rather than invented. The difference seems to become less understood these days.

      1. JeffyPooh

        Re: 73 OM

        Re: invented vs designed

        The 1/3 to 2/3 voltage linearization technique almost certainly rose to the level of an invention.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: 73 OM

      Ah, the 555 - a godsend to kids interested in learning about integrated circuits, back in the day. Radio Shack sold them along with a book of 555-based projects you could build with just some basic tools (breadboarded, wire-wrapped, or soldered).

      The first IC-based project I built was a 555-based tone generator. Did it with a friend who had never done any electronics before (I had some experience with discrete components, through those "science project" kits they sold for kids).

      Thanks for the note about Camenzind. I hadn't seen that elsewhere.

  6. Joe Pineapples

    A Diem well and truly Carped

    Some people leave a huge mark on the world, however softly they tread. Fascinating bio. Thank you sir.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Diem well and truly Carped

      Yes I remember on my first exploration of the 8080, the Intel data books still covered those earlier chips. Fascinating.

  7. Nev

    Yet another innovating tech pioneer...

    passing over with little or no marking by big media.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So did Intel do a Microsoft and just *buy* in the design?

    The Reg article could be read that way but the NY Times suggests his company put up the money.

    *If* so that would make *both* of the key major forces in the computer world are simply the result of *buying* their innovation in and recognizing they were on to a good thing when they saw it.

    Which would explain quite a lot about Intel & MS's relationship over the years.

    He sounds like a true innovator and I wonder where will the *next* generation of such people come from.

  9. Sceptic Tank Silver badge


    So the 4004 and 8008 were Poor processors. The 8086 was just a poor processor.


    <<< Address:Segmentation

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheers for this obit and the interesting nuggets of history - it's got the extra level of techy info that keeps me coming back to el Reg.

  11. Andus McCoatover

    Cut my teeth on the 4040...

    ...successor to the 4004.

    Them were the days...

    (Wasn't to 4004 'ripped out of' a Casio calculator?)

  12. /dev/null


    The CHM interview with Poor doesn't mention anything about the 4004. Other sources say the 4004 was designed in-house at Intel to a specification from Japanese calculator manufacturer Busicom, and wasn't architecturally related to the


    Also the Datapoint 2200's 1201 CPU was implemented in SSI/MSI: by the time Intel delivered the 8008 chip, they weren't interested any more.

    1. Paul Webb

      Re: Hmmm...

      Actually, the 4004 is mentioned but not by name.

      On p34, Poor says: "And Ted Hoff [Intel] had this 4-bit calculator chip he was building, designing for a Japanese firm."

      As for what became the 8008, On p35 Poor goes on to say:

      "It was an external design. I mean, we were in no position to dictate how it would be implemented internally."

      [...] "they [Intel] took that-- they came-- and then there was some give and take. They came back

      with some changes and some ideas. I can't tell you who was finally responsible for the design. I mean,

      there were so many people in the act."

      Intel eventually implemented an 8-bit design but by then, as you say, a Computer Terminal Corporation's 1-bit MSI implementation was already in production in the 2200.

      I do like what Poor says about Intel's 'spec' for this (p33):

      "And we kind of merged what Harry and I had done with what they wanted. They wanted-- they had an idea. They want-- they had done some "market research". <laughs> They said they wanted a machine that had the same footprint exactly as a Selectric typewriter, the same keyboard layout as a Selectric typewriter, the same feel. They wanted a screen that had the same dimensions for character size and spacing as the type on a Selectric typewriter. "

  13. Jim 59

    Sounds like a great engineer to me, even in retirement:

    "...Poor and his family spent much of their time sailing in the US, Mexico and Europe. While on board he developed a communication -"

  14. DJV Silver badge

    "ROM memory"

    Read Only Memory Memory?

    Hmm, do I detect some redundancy!

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: "ROM memory"

      Always a good idea to have some redundancy where memory is concerned.

  15. Fred Goldstein

    Datapoint pioneered the LAN

    Xerox had Ethernet running in the lab around 1973, but it wasn't a commercial product until around 1982. By 1977, Datapoint was selling Attached Resource Computing (ARC), which we'd now recognize as a LAN. It was not promoted as a standard the way Ethernet was, but ARCnet probably outlived Datapoint and showed up here and there during the 1980s. So I credit them for the first production LAN.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Datapoint pioneered the LAN

      Yes, ARCnet was very popular right up until 10Base-T Ethernet was introduced (late '80s). 10Base-T was such a value and convenience that it basically killed its token-based competitors (ARCnet, Token Ring, Token Bus) except in shops that had a large investment or for specialized applications. (I understand ARCnet is still popular for some embedded uses, and for a long time Token Bus was big in the factory-automation market; don't know if that's still the case.)

      Then economies of scale let Ethernet improve steadily in performance and price, and that eventually pushed it even into places that had invested in other networking technologies, as equipment got replaced.

      Standard UNIX/Linux headers still have ARCnet definitions, eg APRHRD_ARCNET for ARP on ARCnet.

  16. Alan Firminger

    What about calculators ?

    And why does the post require letters ?

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