From Garage Startup to Industry Leader: The Epic 80-Year Journey of Hewlett-Packard

This comprehensive guide traces the entire history of the iconic Hewlett-Packard (HP) company over its 80+ year journey from its modest garage origins to becoming the globally-dominant industry force it is today. We‘ll explore all the major milestones, products, acquisitions, spin-offs and controversies that have defined this Silicon Valley legend.

CHAPTER 1: The Birth of Hewlett-Packard

In 1939, two young Stanford engineering graduates named Bill Hewlett and David Packard founded HP as an electronics equipment startup in Packard‘s garage with just $538 in initial capital. Their first product – the HP200A Audio Oscillator – was a hit with Walt Disney Studios who bought it to develop the groundbreaking Fantasia film.

This auspicious success story kickstarted HP‘s rise over the following decades into one of tech‘s most prolific innovators. By carving out a niche making specialized electronic measurement tools, HP taps into the relentless growth of the electronics industry following WWII. Let‘s explore some of its technology firsts over the next critical decades.

CHAPTER 2: HP‘s Pioneering Calculator and Computer Products

HP expanded beyond its early niche equipment into more mainstream devices starting in the 1960s. Some landmark innovations included:

1972 – The HP-35 scientific calculator uses innovative hardware and software to pack advanced trigonometric functions into a revolutionary handheld device. It pioneers the personal and educational calculator market.

1966 – HP debuts its first general purpose computer, the HP 2116A minicomputer aimed at the industrial and scientific market.

Over 1970s, HP forges partnerships with Japanese electronics firms like Canon and Sony to continue pushing innovation in handheld calculators and personal computers through the decade.

1984 – HP unveils the pioneering HP LaserJet printer leading a revolution in desktop publishing and office printing capabilities with leading print quality and performance.

1980 – HP makes a landmark entry into the personal computing business with the HP-85 fully-integrated personal computer. While early models had limited memory and screen capabilities, it marked HP‘s steady foray into the mainstream PC market over the following decade.

CHAPTER 3: Transforming into an Enterprise IT Powerhouse

During the heady 1980s and 1990s driven by the spread of personal computers in homes and offices, HP rapidly evolves from an electronics manufacturer into a diversified information technology giant.

It achieves this through a series of ambitious expansions into leading-edge technologies for enterprises and consumers:

Major Acquisitions                  | Year | Amount ($B)
Apollo Computer                      1986      0.5  
Convex Computer                      1995      0.7
VeriFone                             1997      1.2

Table 1 – Notable acquisitions supporting HP‘s technology expansion

It also made disciplined divestitures to focus its business mix on higher-growth markets – most notably spinning off its instrumentation and components business into the $30 billion Agilent Technologies in 1999.

By the late 1990s, HP employs over 120,000 people globally and is consistently ranked among Fortune 500‘s largest technology companies – setting the stage for further ambitious expansion in the following decades.

CHAPTER 4: The Compaq Merger & Company Breakup

HP opens the 21st century making bold moves to compete in the fast-evolving IT landscape…

Year   | Key Event 
2001   | HP acquires rival Compaq for $25 billion marking the largest IT merger at the time. This controversial move immediately makes HP the top personal computing company globally  
2015   | HP splits into two publicly-traded Fortune 100 corporations:
       - HP Inc. focusing on PCs, printers and personal devices  
       - Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) concentrating on enterprise servers, cloud, storage and networking

Table 2 – Milestone strategic moves in HP‘s 21st century evolution

This ambitious restructuring sets up both organizations to better focus on their core markets. While controversial at the time, the breakup decision leads HP Inc and HPE to each grow into IT powerhouses generating over $50 billion in annual revenues individually while competing strongly in the age of cloud services.

CHAPTER 5: Overcoming Challenges Along the Way

In its over 80 year journey, HP has proven remarkably resilient in facing down adversity emerging stronger from numerous scandals and crises:

South Africa Operations – HP resisted calls to divest from Apartheid-era South Africa on moral grounds given its significant employee base and assets in the country. After sustained global pressure and boycotts, HP sold off these interests rather than exiting outright.

Pretexting Scandal – Chairwoman Patricia Dunn resigned after the shocking revelation of HP hiring investigators to covertly obtain private call records of directors and journalists suspected of boardroom leaks. This egregious ethical breach led to lawsuits and criminal charges against senior executives.

Foreign Bribery Conviction – HP faced allegations of bribery by its Russian subsidiary to secure a large government contract. Its subsequent guilty plea led to over $100 million in penalties.

While rocky patches, HP persisted through these firestorms through timely changes in leadership and strategy to maintain its standing as an elite global brand.

The Next Frontier

Now over 80 years since its pioneering garage startup origins, HP has split into two successor Fortune 100 corporations driving the future of enterprise computing and personal IT products globally.

It completes a remarkable business success story spanning the entire history of Silicon Valley itself! This definitive guide traced HP‘s winding history of relentless hardware and software innovations, mega mergers & demergers while overcoming waves of controversy – leaving behind an elite tech brand ready to lead for decades more.

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