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HP Garage Restoration Project

HP Garage Restoration Project (HP image) - RF Cafe
HP Garage  (HP image)

Even though you would never know by today's Hewlett Packard (HP), the company's roots are in electronics test equipment (never thought I might have to explain that!). Most people who have been in the electronics realm are familiar with the story of Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett starting their business in the 12'x18' single-car garage where Dave and his wife lived at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Bill, yet a bachelor, moved into the garage in 1938 (an early entrepreneurial engineer trend setter who literally lived in his office). Their first commercial product was the Model 200A Audio Oscillator. Hewlett Packard went on to become the world's foremost maker of electronic test equipment

Bill & Dave in the garage with their Model 200A Audio Oscillator (HP image) - RF Cafe
Dave & Bill in "The Garage" with their Model 200A Audio Oscillator
(HP image)

for communications, medical, basic research, transportation, factory automation, and many other areas. HP set the standard to which all other manufacturers aspired. Vintage HP test equipment is highly sought after by collectors and hobbyists.

See the restoration project video below.

Hewlett Packard, which had gotten into the computer market, decided in 1999 to spin off the test and measurement product division into a new company named Agilent. Longtime HP fans (including me) were sorely disappointed at the news. Admittedly, Hewlett Packard had been losing market share to relative newcomers in the United States T&M market like Rohde & Schwarz (R&S), so changing the name might have been a safe gamble. Commercial communications test needs had been fostering a new genre of equipment like cellular system signal analyzers, complex function power meters, 'smart" digital oscilloscopes, and more. Evidently the Agilent name didn't do the job of saving the product line because now they have renamed yet again to Keysight Technologies. Oh yeah, that should do it.

Am I imagining it, or does there seem to be a trend that when a successful company's founders yield the reigns of control either through acquisition or retirement, the culture changes almost overnight and things nearly always get worse both for the workers who helped build the company and for the company image?

From the Hewlett Packard history website: "In September of 2004, HP announced efforts to preserve for future generations its most famous piece of real estate - the HP garage. The project turned the clock back on the original house, shed and garage at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, to conditions much as they were in 1939, when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established the now legendary Hewlett-Packard partnership. Completion of the project was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 6, 2005. "


HP Garage Restoration Project Video





Posted  July 22, 2014

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