The Hewlett-Packard Company famously referred to as HP, is a multinational enterprise whose main business involved the provision of a wide array of computer hardware and software components as well as customer service in various sectors.
The idea of HP started when two friends pondered their future beyond graduation while studying electrical engineering at Stanford University.
After graduation in 1937, William Redington Hewlett, Bill Hewlett for short and David Packard decided to form a partnership under the guidance of their professor, Frederick Terman.
Terman encouraged Hewlett and Packard the same manner he convinced his other students to start their companies around the Stanford Campus which they did in 1938.
From Packard’s garage, the duo started with US$538 (the equivalent of around US$9,210 today) and some good ideas and experiments.
By 1939, Hewlett and Packard signed their names on the dotted lines of partnership. They decided the ordering of their partnership name over a toss of a coin. Heads: Hewlett-Packard. Tails: Packard-Hewlett. And the rest is history.
Their first product was an audio oscillator; a device that generated one pure tone or frequency at a time.
Hewlett and Packard created the oscillator to fill a need for more practical oscillators in the market. At the time most audio oscillators available were either downright unstable or expensive at a price of at least $200 (the equivalent of around US$3,571 today).
Hewlett and Packard then created the model HP-200A audio oscillator and sold it for US$54.40, which led fellow entrepreneurs to question the authenticity of the HP-200A.
Order for these audio oscillators grew from companies involved in radios, telephones, and other audio equipment. In fact, Walt Disney Productions purchased eight audio oscillators to test its recording and speaker equipment for its upcoming animated film “Fantasia” in 1940.
Although HP made revenue of US$5,369, its headquarters, Packard’s garage became too small for Hewlett, Packard, their three employees, and a production line of several items, parts, and equipment.
Hewlett and Packard moved their company from the garage to a rented building in Palo Alto, while the construction of their company building began in 1942.
The Hewlett-Packard Company became incorporated in 1948, and Packard became President and Hewlett was Vice-President. The two friends decided to take the company public in 1957, earning revenue of US$28 million with 70 products and 143 employees.
Hewlett and Packard decided to reveal HP to the world in 1959. The company opened a marketing company in Geneva, Switzerland, then a manufacturing plant in Boeblingen, Germany.
After a short-lived partnership with Sony Cooperation in Japan, HP and Yokogawa Electric Company built a joint venture called “Hewlett-Packard Japan” in 1963. In a way, this venture facilitated the spread of HP products throughout Asia.
HP also purchased Sanborn Company during this time. With this acquisition, HP secured itself in the American medical field, providing high-quality medical equipment which brought huge revenue to the company for nearly four decades.
In 1964, HP’s engineers developed and released an atomic clock the HP model 5060 cesium frequency standard. Like other atomic clocks, it told time accurate to one-millionth of a second.
However, unlike most atomic clocks, it wasn’t as expensive or bulky and could be mounted on a rack. Around this time, HP had plans for the computer market. The first was to takeover Digital Electronic Cooperation and their highly successful PDP-8 minicomputers.
Unfortunately, DEC’s co-founder Ken Olsen rejected it.
So, HP diverted to Plan B. The Dymec division of HP developed the company’s first minicomputer HP-2116A in order to contribute something extra to customers and take the leap into the computer world.
In 1968, HP unveiled a desktop scientific calculator HP 9100A to the world. While some were skeptical about its US$5000 price tag, others marveled at its ability to store programs on magnetic-card storage as a personal computer.
In those days of slide rules and adding machines, an electronic calculator of this design performing calculations at the button-dance of fingers, was like looking into the future through a portal.
The HP9100A became the first desktop calculator with more functionalities than an adding machine.
Hewlett became CEO in Packard’s absence in 1969 and HP would continue its digital advancements into the 1970s.
Rather than refine this innovative product for more profits, Hewlett believed if it was possible to make a desktop electronic calculator, then it would be possible to create a calculator that could fit into a person’s palm or pocket.
And so the HP-35 calculator was created in 1972. The model named after its hardware of 35 keys.
In 1974, HP entered IBM and DEC domain of business computing, where it unveiled the HP3000 minicomputer.
In the face of digital revolution through the late 1970s and beyond, Hewlett stepped down from his position as CEO for John Young. Though an unassuming man to both the company and its customers, Hewlett believed Young possessed the ambition and drive to help HP thrive in the computer market.
In 1980, the HP-85, HP’s first personal computer, or true computer as others would say, emerged. It information processing capabilities rivaled second only to the IBM PC in 1981. While no dominance play was expected from HP during that period, it did dominate in another field for decades to come; the printing market.
The HP ThinkJet printer and HP LaserJet printer made their debut in 1984. During this period the internet boom was going strong and HP became the ninth company to register its dot-com domain; the HP.com domain.
Prior to the internet boom, the majority of HP products targeted businesses, research labs, and universities. Now, with more households demanding simple and affordable PCs, HP expanded its line of computer products to accommodate the needs of individual customers.
In 1989, HP acquired Apollo Computer, then Convex Computer six years later. Around 1999 HP followed the online shopping trend, opening hpshopping.com to sell its products online.
As the company continued to grow especially in the computer market, in 1999, HP created Agilent Technologies, a separate split off a portion of its business, to handle its older businesses in scientific research, medicine, and other aspects.
In 2002, HP and Compaq merged to form “Hewlett-Packard Compaq” also known as HPQ.
The HP Pavilion DV 1658 laptop debuted in 2004, becoming popular among the households and small-time businesses who valued its portable, thin, and light feel.
While the HP and Compaq merger fell short in 2005 due to underwhelming earnings, the next year became HP’s chance to shine with several products ranging from desktops and workstations to software.
In 2007, it came as no surprise that HP would surpass its competitor IBM. Despite operating at lower costs and the cutbacks on the workforce, the company’s annual revenue hit US$104 billion.
As PC sales slowed due to the Android revolution, HP looked to add IT services to its portfolio. Thus, it acquired the Electronic Data Systems in 2008 for US$13.9 billion.
Where other computer companies scrambled to reclaim lost glory after the Great Recession, HP focused on servers, storage, and other computer network products. For that, HP acquired 3Com Cooperation in 2010 for US$2.7 billion. It’s worthy to note that this acquisition became one of the largest in size in the history of acquisitions made by worldwide technological enterprises.
HP would continue the acquisitions in software companies until 2014. When 2014 rolled in, HP split itself.
The separation birthed two public trading companies: Where the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise focused on software and technology services, the other Hewlett-Packard Inc. maintained the printing and personal computer businesses.
In 2021, HP became the dominant desktop seller in India. During Q2, 2021, the company occupied a market share of 26.0%, up 1.9% from that in Q2, 2020. Indian shipments by HP were over 1 million, showing a 54% year-on-year growth rate from when they were close to 692,000 at the same time in 2020.
At present, HP has its main headquarters in Palo Alto, California, with more than 53,000 employees around the world and facilities serving more than 120 countries.
HP revenue in 2020 was US$56.6 billion and its assets are estimated at US$34.68 billion.