Once a month, I’m spotlighting an entrepreneur who started a thriving, well-known business in a garage. What better place to get down to some really serious work? Today, I’m looking at the two entrepreneurs who came together to make the Hewlett-Packard company.
The Beginning of the Hewlett-Packard Story
William Hewlett and David Packard met while going to school at Stanford. They shared a curiosity about electronics and a desire to carve out their own livelihood by starting a business. Hewlett wanted to name their business HP, while Packard wanted to name it PH. With the toss of a coin, HP was born.
The Birthplace of Silicon Valley
In 1938, Packard and his wife rented a home in Palo Alto partly because it had a one-car garage. This garage became the first workshop of the HP company in 1939. Hewlett moved into a shed in the back of the Packard house so work could take place at all hours. The garage had adequate space for Hewlett and Packard to work on projects, including experiments with electrical currents. Plus, the garage had tables and shelves for their tools and pieces of equipment, including a drill press. This is where the pair came up with their audio oscillator.
The audio oscillator was their ticket to success as a company. The one-car garage in Palo Alto is a historical landmark in California and is now known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. In 2000, HP purchased this home and took on the work of restoring it to its original condition.
Walt Disney Enters the Picture
Remember the Disney movie Fantasia? In 1940, another entrepreneur, Walt Disney, was looking for a way to make the most of the sound in this incredible movie. He’d heard of HP’s audio oscillator and decided to purchase one for each of the handful of theaters presenting Fantasia . The wonderful symphonic sound that came out of the audio oscillators made this HP product a hit! They had Walt Disney singing the praises of their invention.
The Growth of HP
After a little more than a year in business, Hewlett and Packard started to outgrow their garage workshop. In 1940, they moved to another space and continued to work on new products. The company incorporated in 1947 and went public ten years later, providing each of its employees with a share in the company.
Getting Into the Computer World
In the late 1960s, HP came up with products including a time-sharing computer and handheld calculator. Moving into the 1970s, HP ramped up its production of computers. In the 1980s, HP offered many types of computers, from large models used by big companies to smaller personal computers for individuals. Compaq became a part of HP in 2002.
Whether it’s a laptop, printer, calculator, copy paper, or one of dozens of other products, there’s an excellent chance you’ve held an HP product in your hands at one time or another. The company Hewlett and Packard started in that one car garage in Palo Alto back in 1939 is still flourishing today. How inspiring! Thanks for reading. – Alan