For the modern user, HP is just another big-name brand in the world of PCs and printers. But the history of Hewlett Packard (which incorporated on Aug. 18, 1947) is downright charming — and predates the start of Apple, Microsoft, and Dell by several decades. In 1939, college buddies Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard formed Hewlett Packard in a garage at 367 Addison Ave. in Palo Alto, California. Today that garage is on the National Register of Historic Places as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. (It’s easy to imagine Bill and Dave flipping a coin to determine whether their company would be named “Hewlett Packard” or “Packard Hewlett.”)

How HP started

HP’s first creation was a resistance-tuned audio oscillator designed to measure audio frequencies. Bill and Dave’s invention used a light bulb to simplify the device’s circuitry, improving its stability and dramatically lowering its cost compared with other oscillators. The “Model 200A” caught the attention of Walt Disney Studios, which used the improved Model 200B audio oscillator to monitor sound during the production of Fantasia.

In 1940, HP hired two employees, and the company outgrew the garage. Bill and Dave moved to a new headquarters on Page Mill Road, also in Palo Alto. Over the years, as everyone knows, the company’s product line grew far beyond audio oscillators to include PCs, printers, servers, and more.

If you want to delve further into the history of HP, plan a visit to Melbourne, Australia, where you can make an appointment to visit the private HP Computer Museum, a collection of early HP hardware, software, and marketing materials.

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Photo:  A_stockphoto / Shutterstock.

Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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