Cautionary tale of lost archiving: too new, too complex, too trusted

The great things about retro-computing archives include:

  1. most of the documents were on paper, so if they hadn’t been discarded they can be scanned and kept for posterity;
  2. compared to modern systems, many “retro” systems are relatively small and simple, so a complete surviving documentation (and possibly software) collection is a feasible project for a group of volunteers.

Here’s a recent computing product (maybe too new for some folks here, but it is fully out of production) that seems to have fallen completely through the web: the Intel Galileo (2013–2017).

The Galileo was a single-board computer using a 400 MHz Pentium-like processor. It had USB, network, serial and PCIe ports, and also carried Arduino-compatible pin headers. It ran a very cut-down Linux OS, and was one of the early “Internet of Things” hosts.

It was fairly popular amongst the maker crowd around a decade ago, and was integrated into a few OEM products. Intel didn’t find this embedded market to be profitable enough, so in 2017 discontinued the board. The entire SoC line it was based on was cancelled in 2019, and the very last production shipped last year.

Try to find resources to get a Galileo going, however, and you’ll be disappointed:

  • all the documentation was online at Intel’s reference site. When the hardware was discontinued, all the old URLs were removed. A small subset of the Galileo documentation remains on an Intel-run archive site.

  • the software — complex Linux distributions, SDKs and binary drivers — were deleted from Intel’s site in 2020. Seemingly, no-one mirrored them.

  • all the discussion about the board is archived at new URLs behind a login at Intel’s community site. Needless to say, all the internal links to software have expired.

The Galileo was a fairly terrible computer, true. But it’s strange how quickly and completely it has disappeared. I wonder if it was meant to be ephemeral, or was it that users trusted Intel to keep the information archived so they didn’t themselves?


The lack of interest by companies to their old products, and in some cases active neglect or even hostility to products acquired from acquired companies, is very sad.

Part of it is of course driven by legal concerns, but how much would it hurt the engineers to package things, stamp no-commercial no-support no-warranty use hobbyist use only terms, and throw it over the wall.

1 Like

Most companies, need to make money, so out with the old and in with the new for more profit.
Look at the music industry, records, radio, lp’s, cd’s,streaming media, and records are now back
again. Sadly this model, prevents old products having value in the market place other than self
adverising, as well as having new standards that get broken two to three years down the road.
Long live 3D tv.