75 years of Innovators: Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard

Jan. 8, 2004
In 1939 and with $538, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started Hewlett-Packard Co. to make test and measurement instruments.

In the 75 years since Machine Design began publication, here are some of the people who have changed the way we live.

Bill Hewlett (left) and Dave Packard.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard
Defined the "visionary" electronics company
Bill Hewlett 1913-2001
Dave Packard 1912-1996

The first product, built in a Palo Alto, Calif., garage, was the precision audio oscillator, which used a light bulb as a temperature stabilized resistor in a critical part of the circuit. HP's first client was Disney, which used several of the oscillators in the movie "Fantasia."

In 1968, HP developed the world's first electronic programmable desktop calculator. Next came the HP-35, the first handheld scientific electronic calculator in 1972, followed by the first programmable calculator in 1974.

HP was first to pioneer what are now considered enlightened management practices: management by objectives, stock options for employees, catastrophic health insurance, and open work areas for sharing information. In 1990, HP expanded its computer line, which initially targeted universities, research, and business, to consumers. In 2002, the company bought out Compaq Corp., making HP the world's largest manufacturer of PCs.

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