HP History

Innovation is in
our DNA

Since 1939, Hewlett-Packard has been a leader in technology and corporate culture, inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs around the globe.

Founding HP

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard became friends at Stanford University before forming a two-person company in a rented garage—the original Silicon Valley startup. Working with limited resources, the pair created a series of products—starting with audio oscillators used by sound engineers—sometimes using the Packard family oven to put on finishing touches. Their efforts impressed Walt Disney Studios, one of HP’s early customers, and set the course for a legacy of innovation and leadership.


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Timeline of our history

From its origins in a Palo Alto garage to its current position as one of the world’s leading technology companies, HP has grown and evolved significantly since its founding in 1939. See key milestones and moments from HP’s history.

  • The garage, 367 Addison Avenue, Palo, California, 1939

    1938

    Hello, Hewlett and Packard.

    Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard didn’t know they were standing in the birthplace of Silicon Valley when they opened their business in a one-car garage in Palo Alto. Having become friends at nearby Stanford University several years earlier, Bill and Dave gave life to the world’s leading hub for high-tech innovation and development in this humble structure.

  • HP 200A audio oscillator

    1938

    HP cooks up its first product.

    Bill and Dave built the first HP Model 200A audio oscillator, an instrument used to test sound equipment, behind the garage that housed their business. They baked the paint onto the machine in Dave’s wife’s oven, leading her to claim the roast beef never tasted right from then on.

  • Bill and Dave in the garage workshop, 1939

    1939

    Hewlett-Packard? Packard-Hewlett?

    Bill and Dave formalize their partnership on January 1. They flip a coin to decide the company's name.

  • HP's first oscilloscopes.

    1956

    HP’s first oscilloscopes.

    HP produces its first oscilloscopes, a device that allows users to visually see electrical voltage or current on a screen. These products go on to become a significant part of HP’s test and measurement line, a major part of the company until it was spun off to form Agilent in the late 1990s.

  • HP 5060A atomic clock

    1964

    HP atomic clock sets standard

    The highly accurate HP 5060A atomic clocks set the new standard for international time.

  • HP Labs opens

    1966

    HP Labs opens.

    HP Labs was formed to free scientists from day-to-day problems so that they could focus on innovating. The new Labs group quickly turns out a variety of inventions, including the world’s first desktop scientific calculator and cesium-beam atomic clocks that set the world's time standards, coordinating time to within a millionth of a second. Barney Oliver is the founding director.

  • HP's first computer takes to the sea

    1966

    HP’s first computer takes to the sea.

    The HP 2116A is the world’s first go-anywhere, do-anything computer. Designed to withstand environmental extremes, the first was sold to Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institution, which used it aboard a research vessel in a salt-air environment for more than 10 years.

  • HP 9100A

    1968

    1st "personal computer"

    First programmable scientific desktop calculator: The HP 9100A – virtually the first PC – stores programs on a magnetic card and can solve science and engineering problems 10 times faster than most other machines. It paves the way for the company's workstation business. Ads call it a “personal computer” in the first documented uses of the term.

  • The HP-35 handheld calculator was small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.

    1972

    HP-35 calculator introduced

    HP introduces the HP-35, the world’s first scientific hand-held calculator. Small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, it makes the slide rule obsolete. In 2000, Forbes ASAP names the HP-35 one of the “all time products” that changed the world.

  • HP introduces wrist instrument

    1977

    HP introduces wrist instrument

    HP introduces the HP-01 wrist instrument, a combination digital wristwatch, calculator and personal calendar. It is one of the world’s first personal information devices.

  • HP's first PC

    1980

    HP’s first PC.

    The HP-85, the company’s first personal computer, resembled a large desktop calculator but could do far more than add 2 + 2. It could control instruments and even talk to other computers.

  • HP's calculator standard

    1981

    HP's calculator standard

    HP introduces the HP-12C business calculator. It will go on to become the world’s standard financial calculator and is still being sold by HP today.

  • It fits in your hand!

    1982

    It fits in your hand!

    The HP-75C debuts as HP’s first handheld computer. Its appointment mode, with alarms in 10 different tones (including a siren!) means it could also be considered one of the world’s earliest organizers.

  • HP introduces Touchscreen PC

    1983

    HP introduces Touchscreen PC

    HP introduces the HP-150 Touchscreen PC, allowing users to activate features simply by touching the screen.

  • HP invents ThinkJet printing

    1984

    HP invents ThinkJet printing

    HP introduces thermal inkjet printing with the debut of the HP ThinkJet. It marks the success of HP Labs in miniaturizing inkjet technology to deliver superior quality, quieter operation and lower-power consumption over dot-matrix printers.

  • HP LaserJet quietly roars to life.

    1984

    HP LaserJet quietly roars to life.

    HP launches what quickly becomes the world’s most popular personal desktop laser printer. One of the big selling points was that it was quiet enough that you could talk on the phone while sitting next to it – a true innovation at the time.

  • A single VLSI chip containing the entire CPU of a RISC-based computer.

    1986

    HP creates RISC architecture

    HP becomes the first major computer company to introduce a precision architecture based on reduced instruction set computing (RISC), making computers faster and less expensive. RISC executes instructions faster and does more work than previous generations of chips.

  • HP Deskjet launched

    1988

    HP Deskjet launched

    The HP DeskJet debuts as the company’s first mass-market inkjet printer.

  • Innovation is immortalized.

    1989

    Innovation is immortalized.

    The garage where Hewlett and Packard started the company is recognized as a California state landmark. The site bears a bronze plaque declaring it the Birthplace of Silicon Valley.

  • Color printing revolution

    1991

    Color printing revolution

    HP revolutionizes color printing with the introduction of the affordable HP DeskJet 500C. HP Labs scientists create fundamental color (sRGB), compression and half-toning algorithms for the DeskJet 500C, dramatically reducing the cost of color printing.

  • Portable PCs get power boost

    1991

    Portable PCs get power boost

    HP advances lightweight portable computer with the HP 95LX palmtop PC. Roughly the size of a pocket calculator, it boats as much computing power as a desktop PC.

  • HP introduces OmniBook.

    1993

    HP introduces OmniBook.

    The 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) HP OmniBook 300 was the smallest and lightest PC on the market with a full-size keyboard and video graphics array screen. It had enough battery power to last as long as a flight across the United States.

  • A master multitasker.

    1993

    A master multitasker.

    The HP OfficeJet did it all as the world’s first mass-market printer-fax-copier.

  • Going home.

    1995

    Going home.

    HP enters the home computing market with the HP Pavilion PC.

  • Super servers, Superdome servers, that is.

    2000

    Super servers – Superdome servers, that is.

    HP introduces the Superdome server line, advancing its position in Internet infrastructure. The Superdome was HP’s first step in regaining dominance in the high-end Unix server marketplace.

  • Meet HP Services

    2001

    Meet HP Services.

    HP’s new services division quickly becomes one of the company’s fastest-growing areas (15 percent in 2001) with clients including Nokia Corporation, Sara Lee/DE and Halliburton Company. Nineteen year veteran and Corporate VP Ann Livermore is appointed General Manager.

  • Memristor wafer

    2008

    Memristor

    Researchers at HP Labs solve a decades-old mystery by proving the existence of a fourth basic element in integrated circuits—the memristor (short for memory resistor). The memristor could lead to far more energy-efficient computers with some of the pattern-matching abilities of the human brain.

  • Simple never goes out of style

    2012

    Simple never goes out of style.

    “Polymorphic simplicity” is how HP describes its single-system storage architecture for all sizes of client deployments, making storage less complex and more efficient.

  • To the moon!

    2013

    To the moon!

    HP introduces Moonshot, a new class of server based on 10 years of research from HP Labs. Moonshot uses up to 89 percent less energy, 80 percent less space and costing 77 percent less, compared to traditional servers, helping companies keep up with the information demands of the time.

  • Happy Birthday!

    2014

    Happy Birthday!

    HP celebrates its 75th anniversary.

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Innovation Gallery

Explore a gallery of some of HP’s most breakthrough and notable products. From its first devices—oscillators that improved the way audio frequencies were measured—to a calculator dubbed “the first personal computer” to bestselling printers and more, take a trip through the history of HP’s imagination.

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