Hewlett-Packard registered HP.com back in 1986 but did you know that it could so easily have been PH.com instead?

This $40 Billion brand was incorporated this month (August 18th) back in 1947.

You’ll have heard of HP for their printers because the HP LaserJet series launched in 1984 rapidly became the world’s most popular. But less well-known is that they’ve invented atomic clocks, LED’s and the world’s first programmable electronic calculator. In fact, Steve Wozniak worked at HP and had to sell his own personal calculator to help get Apple off the ground.

Before their incorporation, they were founded in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The HP or PH was decided by a tossed-coin!

Classmates from Stanford University, both of them become friends while camping back in 1934. Like other startups (e.g. Google Apple), they started in Dave Packard’s garage in Palo Alto (this garage is now considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley).

With startup-capital of just $538, they started off by building audio-oscillators which are electronic test-instruments used by sound engineers. They’d developed a way to make and sell them for £89 dollars
while inferior ones were being sold for over $200, which got noticed by the Disney Corporation, whose sound engineers working on Disney’s film “Fantasia” needed help to make innovative sound-effects among other things.

The war came to America so they made electronics such as counter-radar measures and while opportunities like these helped, they put their success down to running their company “The HP Way” (David Packard wrote a book about this and it’s worth a read).

The main principles are here, which are just as relevant now as ever :

  1. 1 Trust and Respect for Individuals.
  2. 2 Focus on a High Level of Achievement and Contribution
  3. 3 Uncompromising Integrity
  4. 4 Achievement of Common Objectives through Teamwork
  5. 5 Encouragement of Innovation and Flexibility
  6. 6 Corporate Citizenship (HP believed in making a positive contribution to society and behaving as a good corporate citizen)

Perhaps have a think about this the next time you’re desperately trying to print-out your flight tickets for your holidays and the computer says it “can’t see” the printer, even though it’s plugged in and connected right next to it !

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