Contributed Columns

In 1974, Richard Nelson founded the HP-65 User's Club and began to publish its journal called "65 Notes." The club later evolved into the world-wide club called PPC, and the PPC Journal was sent almost monthly to its thousands of members.

Since I just obtained the Xerox "Text Bridge 98" scanner software, and since Jake Schwartz rekindled my interest in the old issues of the Notes and Journal, I've been having fun scanning some of the articles. I'll post a few that will be of interest to the comp.sys.hp48 readership from time to time.

The following 1975 article explains why it's HP, not PH (good thing, too, since HP-UX would otherwise be unacceptable in polite society).

Enjoy this glimpse into The Way Things Were... 23 years ago!

-Joe Horn-

PH or HP?
Richard Nelson

"65 Notes," January 1975
Volume 2, Number 1, Page 3

In January 1939, two Stanford Electrical Engineering graduates flipped a coin to see if their partnership would be called Packard-Hewlett or Hewlett-Packard. David Packard lost on that flip, and Bill Hewlett had his name first. The occasion was the receipt of the first big order from Walt Disney Studios for nine audio oscillators called the Model 200A. The early experimental workshop was literally a 'garage' operation. In 1947 the firm incorporated and annual sales reached $1.5 million. New products were added to the expanding product line of signal generators, microwave instruments, amplifiers, etc., and by the '50's the company was developing instruments at the rate of 20 new ones per year.

The strong leadership exerted by Bill Hewlett and David Packard is what has made Hewlett-Packard the unique company it is today. Another key factor has been people - the employees. Over 20,000 people work for Bill and Dave, who hold 51% of the company stock. The company operates on policies that strongly reflect the philosophy of the two men. The open and free exchange of information among engineers and designers is encouraged by not allowing offices and cubicles. Even today, employees feel that they are part of a family. When times are good, the family shares the prosperity through profit sharing checks, liberal fringe benefits, etc. When the economy is down, Hewlett-Packard does not lay off its employees (who know the H-P philosophy, and will work a 4-day week if asked to).

In March 1968 Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP-9100A table-top programmable calculator. At that time Bill Hewlett wondered if the next calculator developed could not be a tenth the size and cost of the 9100A. Later the goal was formalized to be a series of ten machines to be hand-held, battery operated, and capable of being carried in his shirt pocket - which was measured on the spot. Thus, the HP-35, -80, -45, -81, -46, -65, -70 and -55 were born, along with machines yet to be announced. This brainstorming effort was being carried out in earnest by the newly-formed Advanced Products Division by the fall of 1970. The technological accomplishment was in getting the HP-35 to market, from concept to announcement, in less than 18 months.

Operating by the Philosophy of providing technically advanced products of high quality, based on excellent executive direction, Hewlett-Packard continues to be the leader in the electronics industry. Traditionally, H-P has not sold its products to the general public.

The Advanced Products Division, with its pocket calculator, was the first market of this type that the company entered. When H-P did enter the calculator market, it did not compete with existing manufacturers; it created a completely new market - the scientific calculator market.


  1. The HP-35: A Tale of Tearmwork with Vendors, by Gerald M. Walker, Electronics, February 1, 1973.

  2. Hewlett-Packard Company Annual Report, 1973.

  3. A New Electronic Calculator with Computer-Like Capabilities, by Richard E. Monnier.

Part of the HP Calculator Archive -