HP: Foundation and first years

Foundation and first years

Bill Hewlett and David Packard met at Stanford University in 1934. Bill Hewlett was the "son of the dean of the Stanford Medical School, while Dave Packard had come to Stanford from Pueblo, Colorado,") and was an enthusiastic radio ham.

They both were very interested in electronic engineering and spent a lot of their free time experimenting in Terman's lab who supported them. After graduation in 1934, Packard went to Schenectady, New York, where he worked for General Electric (GE), while Hewlett went on studying at the MIT. In 1938, Terman called them back to Stanford where they would earn electrical engineering degrees after their fifth year of study.

During this year they decided to work on a project professor Terman had suggested to them in his course at university: In the garage next to their rented apartment in Palo Alto they developed a variable frequency oscillator, which was much better than exis ting products but cost only a "fraction of the existing price ($55 instead of $500).") Terman was very convinced by this product, so he encouraged them to try to sell it. He himself loaned them $538 for the production and arranged an additional loan from a bank in Palo Alto.

The new firm Hewlett-Packard (HP) was founded in 1939, and its first big sale were eight audio oscillators to Walt Disney Studios, which used them for the soundtrack of "Fantasia.")

From now on, they concentrated on highly qualified products and innovative electronic instruments for engineers and scientists. This main product line has been kept till today.

By 1942, five years after its foundation, HP already had 60 employees and reached annual sales of about $1 million. So it became necessary to construct the first HP-owned building in Palo Alto. The two Stanford graduates had successfully built up their own company which had been founded upon an idea during their studies and was to rise from a "garage-headquartered firm") to a leading company in the world. This phenomenon was typical for Silicon Valley and would be imitated by many following companies such as Apple.

Martin Groeger http://www.silicon-valley-story.de
Last modified: Mon Jul 8 04:36:29 PDT