The Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ ), commonly known as HP, is a very large, global company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, United States. Its products are concentrated in the fields of computing, printing, and digital imaging. It also sells software and services.
From '39 till the seventies
HP was founded in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who had both graduated from Stanford University in 1934, as a manufacturer of test and measurement instruments. Their first product was a precision audio oscillator, the Model 200A. Their innovation was the use of a light bulb as a temperature stabilized resistor in a critical portion of the circuit. This allowed them to sell the Model 200A for $54.40 when competitors were selling less stable oscillators for over US$ 200. One of their earliest customers was Walt Disney Productions, who bought eight Model 200B oscillators (at $71.50 each) for use in testing the Fantasound stereophonic sound system for the movie Fantasia.
HP is acknowledged by Wired magazine as the producer of the world's first personal computer, in 1968. HP called it a desktop calculator because, as Bill Hewlett said, "If we had called it a computer, it would have been rejected by our customers' computer gurus because it didn't look like an IBM. We therefore decided to call it a calculator, and all such nonsense disappeared".
The company earned global respect for a variety of products. They introduced the world's first handheld scientific electronic calculator in 1972 (the HP-35), the first handheld programmable in 1974 (the HP-65), and the first alphanumeric, programmable, expandable in 1979 (the HP-41C). Like their scientific and business calculators, their oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and other measurement instruments have a reputation for sturdiness and usability (the latter products are now part of spin-off Agilent's product line). The company's design philosophy in this period was summarized as "design for the guy at the next bench".
HP is recognized as the symbolic founder of Silicon Valley, although it did not actively investigate semiconductor devices until a few years after the "Traitorous Eight" had abandoned William Shockley to create Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957. Hewlett-Packard's HP Associates division, established around 1960, developed semiconductor devices primarily for internal use. Instruments and calculators were some of the products using these devices.
The eighties and beyond
In 1984, HP introduced both ink jet and laser printers for the desktop. Along with its scanner product line, these have later been developed into successful multifunction products, the most significant being single-unit printer/scanner/copier/fax machines. As of 2003, HP's major competitors in this growing part of the SoHo market are the companies/brands Brother , Canon, Epson and Lexmark.
In the 1990s, HP expanded their computer product line, which initially had been targeted at university, research, and business customers, to reach consumers. Following this strategy, in 2002 they bought out Compaq Computer Corp., a major player in both the stationary and portable PC clone markets since its founding in 1982 (and buyer of DEC, in 1998). The buyout made HP the world's largest manufacturer of personal computers.
In 1987, the Palo Alto garage where Hewlett and Packard started their business was designated as a California State historical landmark. However, Agilent Technologies, not HP, bears the legacy of the original instrument company founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in 1939. Agilent was spun off from HP in 1999.
Many long-time HP calculator users were surprised and disappointed when HP announced in March 2002 that the company would no longer manufacture financial and scientific calculators – a product line and, indeed, a market, that HP had started thirty years before. The decision was especially hard to fathom in light of the HP-48 graphing calculator range's success. However, despite its spring 2002 press release stating the opposite, the company nevertheless returned to the market during the fall of 2003 with several new models (flagship: HP-49g+) competing against similar offerings from competitor Texas Instruments.
In a report submitted by Saddam Hussein to the United Nations shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was revealed that Hewlett-Packard had participated in Iraq's nuclear weapons program. (Though the U.S. attempted to redact the names of all U.S. companies involved, an uncensored copy was leaked to the press.)
Hewlett-Packard is a leading industrial supporter of Open Source and Linux. Many HP employees actively contribute – some have official Open Source job responsibilities and others participate in the Open Source community as unpaid volunteers.
Other HP products/technologies include:
- the HP-UX and Tru64 operating systems (two UNIX implementations, the second from DEC)
- the OpenVMS large-scale, highly-available server operating system (from DEC)
- the NonStop high-reliability architecture and operating system (from Tandem Computers)
- the PA-RISC processor architecture
- the IA64 processor architecture (with Intel)
- the Alpha processor architecture (from DEC)
- the HP 9000 line of servers and workstations
- the UDC (Utility Data Center)
- the OpenView family of management software
Hewlett-Packard received a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign starting in 2003, the second year of the report. In addition, the company was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine.
- HP corporate homepage
- HP History and Facts
- HP Open Source portal
- HP Linux portal
- HP Calculators
- The rise and fall of the HP Way by Jocelyn Dong, with Pam Sturner (Online Edition of the Palo Alto Weekly, April 10, 2002)
- The HP Calculator Wiki
- Linux on Hewlett-Packard laptops
- The OpenPA Project