Sunday, December 13, 2009

two BIG events

All on the same day. First, the HP/Agilent Bay Area retirees met, on Pearl Harbor Day (Dec 7th) for their annual luncheon. Some 450 folk listened to a brief half-hour outline of the book, and 82 bought books on-site for signing. Then I was featured at the Computer History Museum that night (the anniversary of many things besides Pearl Harbor's day of infamy -- I pointed out the irony of HP launching its EPOC printer that day, and didn't mention the HP-IB original meeting on 12/7/71 (courtesy of both Dave Ricci and Don Loughrey), or Jenny's first day at HP.
Another 35 books sold at CHM, managed by Kepler's.

Dave Iverson moderated the CHM event, very ably, and the questions were good ones. One in particular had to do with the current 'regime' and pay practices. Tough one to answer, and my answer "unconscionable if true" for the reported $113M for the top four people caused a murmur. I did say "Dave and Bill, for their egalitarian company, would find that an unusual pay practice". Dean Morton wants to have breakfast again this week, for some public speaking counseling.

It was a day that Ray Price hated to miss -- he was caught up in semester finals; he'd have enjoyed it as much as I did.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yes it was fun

Yes indeed.  First time I ever was featured on a one hour radio show.  Up in San Francisco, at KQED, with Dave Iverson as the interviewer.  He was magnificent.  See his documentary re Father and Sons (about all three with Parkinson's -- very touching story).  

We covered a lot of ground, and Q&A took us into a lot more places.  Predictably, a number of folk called to say I am reporting nostalgia since the company has done a hopeless bastardization of the HP Way under the last two CEOs.  And while I too go down that path on many occasions, I felt compelled to point out that (a) Carly Fiorina DID save the marquee name/company, doing no more acquisition than Dave Packard did in his second "term" (from going public to leaving for Washington DC), and (b) many current employees reported in interviews and in book signings this past month that THEIR unit, THEIR division, or THEIR arena is doing great, thank you, with the HP Way largely intact.  Not to say it wasn't LOTS better in those great old days, but somehow it is asking a lot to expect a company of $120 BILLION to act as personal and intimate as a company of $120 MILLION, which is a fair amount LARGER than it was when I joined.

We had calls from Portland, and Phoenix, and San Diego, and Wisconsin, and lots of other places -- and I got emails all day long from friends who heard it and liked it, including our god-daughter who heard it twelve hours later in Las Vegas of all places.  VERY NICE

And maybe that accounts for the surge in Amazon ratings, as it "zoomed" back to #6,751 at 8:00 pm tonight, with our book being #4 overall in Mgmt Guide to Computing (and #1, for the first (and probably only) time on the HOT NEW RELEASES list).  It was #5 and #4 HNR on High Tech, and # 26 and #8 HNR on Company Profiles.  Barnes and Noble didn't do as well, having it still at #45,301.  (No, he's not a numbers guy, and he really isn't very competitive... )

SUNY Stonybrook

Wednesday (12-2-09), Karen Sobel-Lojeski arranged a wonderful group at State University of New York, Stony Brook campus, for me to present re the HP book. Deans from the Biz School, the D'school, the Tech in Society group, CS, Eng'g were among the audience. Very privileged.

Plus a full room (>75) and turning away an estimated 30 more (fire marshal rules). Great questions, including (a) what has been HP's response to the book, (b) how do you compare IBM and HP on services creativity these days, and (c) discuss the new leadership at HP Labs, this one from an ex-colleague of Prith Banerjee at UIUC.

I am increasingly using the "relevance" theme -- what can we learn from this history that applies to our world today -- and the notion that "bottoms up" leadership with marketplace deciding on success rather than "tops down" dictates wins the popular vote, no question. Students groove on that one, for sure. For experienced folk, the engineering-led vs. business-led notion garners lots of enthusiasm, particularly from engineers (duh)

I'm on KQED NPR radio this morning (FM 88.5 in San Francisco, 89.3 in Sacramento) with Dave Iverson. Should be fun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wallenberg talk yesterday

A large number of old HP friends and colleagues, coupled with a complement of Media X followers, filled Wallenberg's Learning Center. In addition, a first for us, we did a live streaming from the talk. I even had a few books on the front table (demonstration-proof that there is a book) and the Stanford Bookstore sold some as well, I heard...
The talk began with the three points that Media X has been observing -- 1. the World is Flat, leading to both a very heightened need for collaboration and a much higher competitive pressure from 'everywhere'; 2. the Social Networking phenomenon is 'real' rather than a fad, so whether it's YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, the kids want to participate, not spectate; and 3. it isn't clear that anyone can marshal support or energy for long, drawn-out difficult scenarios ala the Global Warming issues or the Health Care debate. Participants are just not inclined to be followers, so there is kind of a double whammy happening here.
Then it moved to a thesis about Company Leadership styles -- including both the Tops Down vs. Bottoms Up duality, and the Engineer Led vs the Business Led duality. The assertion is that "the Old HP" was Bottoms Up / Engineer Led (Intel was and mostly still is Tops Down / Engineer Led), and that such a company is vastly more apt to be innovative, and able to renew than a company managed for productivity, profitability, and efficiency. Not necessarily better, and almost certainly less effective in the short time, but more resilient and more apt to create new jobs, especially new kinds of jobs.
And then some stories from the book -- and Packard's resolute reluctance for almost every new market shift, but nonetheless, willing to let it play out and have the market decide, plus betting on the enthusiasm, drive and perseverance of the 'innovative kids'.
Great good fun, at least from my perspective

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The HP 35 market research story

Ray Price was in town, and he was my guest at the Palo Alto Fellowship Forum. The guest speaker was Nils Nilsson, the fabled longtime leader of the SRI Artificial Intelligence Lab. And appropriately, several guests were in attendance, some of them old SRI types.

Just before I intro'd Ray, another member intro'd Roy Clay, who was HP's first software jock. He is featured in our book re the HP 2116, HP's first minicomputer (or instrument controller). I'd not met him; Ray conducted that interview. I stood, held up our new book, and mentioned Roy as well as intro'd Ray.

On my right, a fellow said, "oh, I met Bill Hewlett once". Asked the circumstance, he said, "I was at SRI, and he had a little balsa wood model of a handheld calculator, and he wanted some market research done. So I put together a plan, and some focus groups, and conducted them in San Francisco. Turns out, he wanted more than $200 for this thing, and everyone loved it but not at that price. So I wrote a "won't work" report." His name is Bill Waters, and I showed him our passage in the book that said, "Hewlett ignored the dismal market research report from the prestigious firm, SRI". We laughed together.

The product unalterably changed HP forever.

HP and Silicon Valley

The book has generated some 'new insight' re HP's involvement in 'silicon' -- some of those unwritten stories that James Burke with "Connections" always treasured.

The book notes that HP had more semiconductor processes "in production" by a factor of two than any other chip manufacturer, ever. This was due to unique needs for instrumentation leadership mostly. But it translated into more than half of all Gallium Arsenide chips for satellite communications, and more than half of all Light Emitting Diodes (the flashing red lites on your VCR or digital clock) for years -- HP was the undisputed III-V compound semiconductor manufacturer, whether for truly high frequency signals or for light output.

The book also documents HP leadership in microprocessor architecture, design, and manufacture, leading Intel usually by about three years, up to and including the Itanium design, still the world's most "powerful" microcomputer chipset which was designed by HP and licensed for manufacture by Intel.

But memory chips are what built Silicon Valley, actually, and HP's role here was more interesting and more lightly mentioned. Yes, HP helped craft the specs for the Intel 1103 DRAM, the first 1K memory chip, and yes, they bought 40% of the output from Intel for the first two years (East Coast computer folk were still wed to magnetic core memory). But it had never been documented, and I only pieced it together last week, that the Anderson Bombshell (in the book) which nearly derailed the U.S. push for MCC and Sematech, was heavily stimulated by the YHP (Yokagawa HP joint venture) semiconductor testset, derived from HP's acquired R-L-C meters from Boonton Radio. I reported on this in last week's blog, so this will just add a bit.

This is one of those stories where a resourceful group bucked HP top mgmt, survived long and difficult development cycles, found only ONE customer (Hitachi) which figured out how to build radically more reliable, higher performance chips cheaper as a result. YHP never was able to sell Silicon Valley manufacturers; the net result is that today the $20 Billion (yup) memory chip business is entirely elsewhere -- a shift that happened in a mere five years (between the 8K and 64K memory chip 'space'). I have now interviewed four HP top managers involved with YHP, and I don't believe that HP top mgmt or Intel top mgmt ever had a clue that this is all related; if Intel had known it, Andy Grove's epiphany in 1985 might have been hastened by several years (or he might instead have been able to adopt the 'winning tools').

Great speculation at any rate. Fun to hear the stories come forward...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

connecting is such fun

This week, with Ray Price in town, has been wonderful for us. We've met a number of old colleagues around the circumstance of the book being published. Alan Bickell shared a cup of coffee, and we reminisced about Y-HP, and he helped put more "flesh on the bone" about the semiconductor test set done there, as well as the emergent Samsung memory chips a decade later. Dean Morton added his perspective the next day, and Art Fong contributed more that night. The story is impressive -- it has to do with how a small remote division ignored Palo Alto leadership for years, finally prevailing on a very difficult project, only to find they couldn't sell it, and yet eventually would reshape the entire semiconductor world and the companies in it.

When Y-HP sold one unit, eventually, to Hitachi, that company found that it could control doping levels for impurities much more precisely -- a fact that relatively soon led to a massive adoption by other Japanese firms, and gave the world better memory chips much cheaper than U.S. vendors, notably Intel and Texas Instruments which were two of the leading worldwide Dynamic RAM vendors. There were three repercussions in relatively short order:

1. The Japanese "took over" the 16K and then the 64K RAM chip business, going from less than 10% of the business in 8K chips (1977) to more than 80% of worldwide chips in the 64K chips in six years. Midway through, U.S. vendors got very concerned, even going to Washington DC to seek "government relief" --> leading eventually to MCC (1982) and Sematech (1986) national initiatives. Bob Noyce, co-founder of Intel, left that company to head Sematech.
2. Dick Anderson, HP's Computer Systems VP, delivered the 'Anderson Bombshell' in Washington DC in March 1980, describing the twin facts that Japanese 16K memory chips were not only cheaper (and thought to be "dumping" in America), but 1000% more likely to pass incoming inspection, and lasted 500% longer in operation. Intel and TI both viewed this as "sour grapes" from a competitor even though HP was the largest memory chip purchaser in the world at the time. HP's BPC microprocessor (16-bit micro) had shipped 77,000 units to customers before Intel could source 8086 production units to anyone; TI and HP had been locked in a nonsensical price war initiated by TI over handheld calculators. TI, infringing heavily on HP patents, threatened to withhold memory chips if HP sued. Bad blood flowed.
3. Intel's Andy Grove capitulates to the Japanese in 1986, taking Intel out of memories and into microprocessors. He still describes this as "an epiphany." All other U.S. manufacturers bail out as well. The memory chip market today (2008) is an $18 Billion worldwide market, with no U.S. manufacturers.

No one, to our knowledge, has until now made the connection between the HP semiconductor test sets and the radically better processing technology that Hitachi and others then pioneered. The incredible 'rest of the story' is that Y-HP tried for years to sell its testers to U.S. vendors, with no success; consequently, it was virtually HP's only division with radically higher sales in Japan than anywhere else in the world. Palo Alto management for years associated this with bad marketing skills at Y-HP in contrast to NIH within U.S. semiconductor firms.

Attendees at Keplers event

We each recognized many, and we "knew" more (but like a class reunion, couldn't quite put a name with a face sometimes). Art Fong -- Mr. Microwave -- was there, and we got some pictures with him; Curt Gowan, who runs the HPAA alumni group for Agilent and HP retirees said a few words; and Steve Leibson, who has a brilliant Colorado Computing website,, introduced us to the audience.

Our brief outline of the book, and some perspective on the two founders, four successor CEOs, two strategists, and two technologists, was followed by a great interactive Q & A, including the inevitable "how is the HP Way today?" or, for many, "what happened to the HP Way?".

Many actually bought books, and asked us to sign 'em; quite a privilege, and I even was coached on which page you're supposed to sign your name (no, it is not the inside front cover page). But almost last in line, shy and diffident, was a slight man with a wry smile, who asked for our signature. I asked, "who for?" and he said, "I'm a relative". Turns out, he said he was a son of the shy and diffident co-founder and my alltime hero, Bill Hewlett. I tentatively stammered, "are you Jim?". And yes, he was Jim. We had never met, but he was the only scion from either founder to ever work at HP. He programmed for Roy Clay on the HP 2116 for a year and a half -- a fact that we had put into the manuscript at one point, but somehow that part didn't survive the editing process (along with many other wonderful pieces that we wished we could have kept). Again, an incredible privilege for both Ray and me to meet this man, and to realize he came to hear us.

Many others were in attendance; it'd be folly to try to list them all, but two others merit some comment -- Roland Haitz, who shared some terrific stories about the LED and components business with us, and has built a great Components timeline, but alas, we chose not to use most of that for the book (it will be featured in an evening at the Computer History Museum next year); and Srini Nageshwar, who "named" the LaserJet (even tho at the Personal Computer division) when Boise Division had the prosaic name, HP 2686. Sukumar was key to the original HP 250 saga, as well as the HP 150 Touchscreen, and many other programs.

It was a wonderful evening to realize that we barely scratched the surface of this wonderful HP legacy for so many people.

keplers was a great venue

Kepler's Bookstore, already a stronghold in Menlo Park when I arrived at HP in 1962, is 'enduring' -- hard for bookstores to do in this digital age. They graciously hosted Ray and me last night for an Author's Nite -- it is a real thrill to see a booktable of your own book, and then to have a video interview by knowledgeable booksellers, followed by a wonderful crowd of friends and HP colleagues and friendly others. What a privilege that Keplers afforded us!

They have a "Literary Circle Membership" for any of you locals, that helps to defray the costs of their Author program, and also helps to keep them "in the game". While we all like the lowered costs of Amazon and the other online sellers, speaking from VERY personal experience lately, I can aver that "in your hands", browseability, and ambiance are still unmatched in a bookstore environs. Kinda like TV baseball or football is great, but really different than going to the game.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

harvard Biz Online re innovation

This week HBR Online is featuring a series of folk about innovation vs. Core Competence and other moves such as significant Outsourcing. Great debates! We are going to try an entry; who knows...

Our belief strongly is that the HP book is relevant now more than ever as an alternative to CEO's who manage to the numbers, for efficiency rather than innovation. And trust in employees, in people closest to the problem working best on the solutions, etc. is fundamental to The HP Way. It also is the only conceivable way to imagine running a company spread across the globe, where one out of five professionals has never met their boss face-to-face, and half of them never expect to do so. (We didn't ask how many don't want to meet them).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Well, there will doubtless be lots of discussion on multiple points. And we welcome input, commentary, debate, and certainly corrections. Please, feel free...

Distinguishing between facts, historical recollections, interpretations, and opinions is part of the fun. But "facts" are the most awkward to get wrong. And of course there will be some.

For a previous book re HP, I compiled 16 pp. of single-spaced typing errata; not sure that the author was particularly appreciative! And even for Joan Didion, I once offered some constructive helpful commentary (she icily said she thought "the book could stand as it was")

So, here's a few "nitpicks" from various places (as one kindly reviewer titled his email):
p. 68 Narda built Microwave gear only; Berkeley Labs (cf p. 51) built only counters
p. 117 Boonton Radio (not B. Electronics) was bought (two places). Footnotes (#46, p.558; #12, p. 563) got it right; the text did not.
p. 129 confusion between text and FN re Howard Harrington's microwave molecular rotational spectrometer vs. the quadrapole mass spectrometer done at HP Labs.
p. 132 John Minck was in a meeting w Weindorf and Hewlett; wonders if this was Bill, not Dave
p. 144 The HP 8405A was not linked to the HP 2116; instead it was the HP 8410 successor unit.
p. 253 The system shown is the HP 8540 Automatic Network Analyzer system, using the HP2116 and the HP 8410 mentioned above. The operator is Dr. Steve Adam, one of the early inventive HP Microwave folk, called "bombastic" by many. He could have been profiled; regret that we missed him
p. 275 The dual sampling head was used by 'scopes and by the HP 8410 Vector Network Analyzer, not by the Spectrum Analyzers...
p. 391 Eugenie Prime prefers to use her real name rather than Price (Freudian on our part)

upcoming events

Both Ray and I will be talking / answering Q at Kepler's Bookstore in Menlo Park next Wednesday evening Nov 11 at 7pm. This is our only "scheduled" joint appearance; kinda like flying on planes, spread the risk and don't let too many catch you both in one spot...

I will be featured at Wallenberg Learning Theatre (Rm 124, Wallenberg Hall in the Main Quad at Stanford) on Nov 19th, noon to 1pm as part of the Media X autumn lecture series.

December 7th (Pearl Harbor Day), I have the privilege of addressing the Bay Area HP/Agilent Retiree Club at their annual luncheon in Palo Alto.

That night at 7pm (reception at 6pm, sponsored by Intuit -- not HP or Agilent!), I'll present at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

And December 9th, the Monitor Group and Global Business Network are hosting in San Francisco.

Each talk will be "different" in specifics, if not in the general outline. You know me....

Monday, November 2, 2009

interesting intro, about like old HP products

We called this a "rolling start" in the old days. The book was "available" from Stanford U Press on October 9 supposedly, told to us as October 19, shipped from Amazon that day to pre-orders, receiving it on Oct. 20. Orders to Amazon have consistently filled within five or six days, sometimes much sooner. Barnes/Noble dropped the price to $18.90 for members on Oct. 24; yesterday and today, they canceled all of those orders, saying that they "cannot obtain books despite strong efforts" which means they are losing money on each, and don't want to fill them, I think. Their new price = $28.00, $25.20 for members. Amazon today filled morning orders by evening time, at $20.47, down from $23.10 last week. And Borders stocked the book today in some stores. Kepler's and Stanford bookstore have had it for two weeks.

And today, Stanford publicists sent out a press release about it, to about forty correspondents with various books, magazines, and newspapers, along with the promise of a book "sometime". HP used to introduce products this way, somewhat leisurely and dependent on who was where. Ah, well...

We've stayed pretty consistently in the top 12,000 or so for Amazon for a couple weeks, with three categories usually earning a Top Five for new releases -- "High Tech" (8th overall, 4th in new releases), Manager's Guide to Computing (13th overall, 3rd in new releases), and Company Profiles (42nd overall, 9th new releases) at 11,139 tonight at 9:06pm. All things considered, pretty good for "unknowns" with an "old, tired company"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

someone must be buying

Wow... today's metrics just got better and better. I'm going to record this for posterity; lightning never strikes twice in the same place, they say.

First, it is probably key to note that George Anders (who wrote Perfect Enough in 2003 about HP, Carly and the proxy battle over buying Compaq) penned a very positive review for Two responders promptly said, "Boy, the authors must have left a LONG TIME AGO; it surely isn't like that now".

But, here's the Barnes and Noble web-metrics at 3:37pm on Saturday, October 24.

Barnes/Noble since noon has the book on "pre-available" $18.70 heavy discount price, and it is number 337 on their list at 3:37pm; it was 360 at 1:30pm, 846 at 11am, 983 at 10am, and 183,883 at 8am. Glad they woke up...

Amazon, at $23.10 for members, has it at 3,030 at 3:37pm, down from 5,184 at 1:30pm, and 8,863 at 11am. Now it makes the Business Biography and History category as #24, 6 on the Hot New Release; for Computer Profiles, it is #16, and 3rd on the Hot New Releases; for Manager's Guides for Computing, it is #3, and #2 on the Hot New Releases.

Hard to get much better... THRILLED out here in the back forty.

ya luv metrics when they're good

At 11:10am on Saturday October 24, 2009 (need to record this, it may be an alltime high),

Amazon listed the following:

Popularity among all books: 8,863

Popularity, Company Profiles: 32
Hot new releases in this category 7

Popularity, Managers Guides to Computing 13
Hot new releases in this category 3

Barnes and Noble listed us as: 138,883 at 11:00am
and 983 at 11:38am

Friday, October 23, 2009

Peter Burrows interview

Peter Burrows is probably the most astute journalist covering HP; certainly he has "time and grade", having covered them closely for a decade. His book Backfire is still selling, seven years after the events that it covers, and his periodic insights into the HP role and position in the scheme of things for Business Week are among the most trenchant of anything available.

So it was with great anticipation that I met him for lunch today. Guess what? He has a different opinion on a half a dozen great topics, so we had a lot of fun gabbing. My guess is that the book will engender a lot of gabbing, and not a little "what were they smoking?" reaction. Which could be good for public debates, or lively chat rooms, or even interactive blogs.

What do we differ on? Well, for starters, the role that Carly played, the forward prospects for Hurd's leadership, the relative merits of Platt's strategy and people selections, and John Young's contribution. He didn't know much about Ely; respects Hewlett's legacy enormously. I can't wait for the feedback and interaction to begin

The book stared back at me

It is on the shelves! Or at least one copy is on one shelf, at the Stanford Bookstore. Heady to see your name and your work, displayed on the top row, the cover facing out. Emotional thrill indeed! They've sold seven already; three left in stock.

My ten free copies went in a flash, can't even remember who to... Well, lessee, several who helped mightily, including Don Hammond, Bob Grimm, Al Bagley and Paul Ely. Several who are working with the material, including Peter Burrows (Biz Week), John Hollar (Computer History Museum), and Gardner Hendrie (CHM also). A couple of Media X clients... and, oh yes, Craig Barrett, re the inclusion about the Glenn Commission and his advocacy of STEM issues.

John Minck got one for being a reviewer, as did Cort Van Rensselaer (Cort actually hasn't gotten his yet), and Bruce Abell. John promptly sent a note that Footnote 5 in Chapter 2 is wrong. There are only 1,127 footnotes in the book, hard to get them all taken care of cleanly.

Heady stuff...

Monday, October 12, 2009

AT&T -- and the new order

I dropped my Motorola Razr 3G last Thursday. Broke the LCD seal, pretty hard to read it. Jenny said, "let's go get you a new phone". I have an i-Phone, but the sound isn't so hot. I think if the title says "PHONE" it means that it isn't a good one. True, it is fabulous for all those apps, and it has great finger spreading graphics, and a million wonderful reasons to love it, but the phone quality sucks.

Now, I had bought the Razr for a Motorola client meeting in April 2007; it pleased the visitors, who subsequently invited me (and 41 others) to Schaumberg, IL for a Research Advisory Council meeting the first week of September. The i-Phone, you may recall, came out in July that year.

So, when I got to the meeting, I asked at dinner "why didn't you guys invent the i-Phone? Aren't you worried?" Their quick answer: "We did invent this, and we're selling it in China; have been for eighteen months. But it is hard to work with Verizon and AT&T, etc." But the clincher was when they said, "they predict selling one million this year; we sell one million a week".

The next day, I asked the group -- 36 of the 42 raised an i-Phone in the air, six weeks after it came out. And we suggested as a group that M look at Twitter. The answer: doesn't do much.

At the AT&T store last week, there were two Motorola phones on display, amid nearly a hundred from other vendors. Our associate told us that the i-phone accounted for 50% of the store's 2,000 phones sold in September, and RIM Blackberrys were another 24%. Motorola phones were 0.1%. Quite a lesson in broken strategy.

Chance to chat at the Cupertino Rotary

Jagi Shahani invited me down for a luncheon meeting last week, in the Cupertino civic center, with about 100 Rotarians. Good lunch, great chance to chat about "the old HP". Orrin Mahoney was one of a number of HPites in the audience; he is today mayor of Cupertino, up for re-election. We had fun, discussing whether and to what degree the HP Way had morphed.

Most of the audience was quite surprised, though, to learn the relative revenue for HP, IBM and Dell, not to mention Boeing, AT&T, GE, Intel, and Microsoft

Next stop? Kepler's on November 11. See you there?

Holding a copy "FINALLY"

A mere twenty-two months after 'completion', I got to hold a copy of the book, The HP Phenomenon. And, of course, I 'googled' it to find out that the release date for sale is now October 19 (THIS YEAR). What surprised me was to find out that the HP Phenomenon has become an incredibly popular topic of late... thanks to J.K.Rowling.

How were we to know that when the author of all of those popular Harry Potter books wrote her last book (supposedly) that the series would become titled "HP Phenomenon"? Ah well, fame in a curious way.

Go check the reviews at the Stanford University Press site -- I especially like the one by Don Hammond, one of HP's most important historic contributors.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Agilent and the Agilent Way

It might just be rumor, but rumor has it that Agilent has retreated on a long-term employee benefit, that of Retiree Survivor Benefits. Seems the current economic climate is tough enough (and there is no question that it is hard out there) that the Agilent executive team decided to shut down a number of long-cherished items.

Among them -- this one. Since many of the long-term Agilent employees were male, and in "our age bracket" women outlive their spouses by several years, this well could mean a decade's guaranteed income, long counted on as a funded legacy by that most paternalistic of companies, "the old HP", will not happen after all. A cruel decision, one has to think. Unless you are more concerned about shareholders than ex-employees -- Wall Street would doubtless applaud, just as they thrill and rally stock prices when more layoffs and outsourcing is announced.

Hewlett and Packard have had multiple occasions to turn over in those cold graves -- the selloff of Little Basin and the merger/acquisition mania pale alongside pretexting, forfeiture of long-promised benefits, and rules banning executive participation on civic boards. Ethics and a huge belief in the dignity and value and worth of all employees were cardinal elements, weren't they?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lunch with Paul Ely

I got a call from Paul Ely the other day, and he invited me to lunch at the Sharon Heights Golf Club to talk about his reaction to my "Secret Sauce" lecture which is still posted on the MediaX website

He focused on several elements -- one was the 15% "breakthrough ideas" funding; another was the role of the Silicon on Sapphire and the Gallium Arsenide work for HP leadership in microwave communications, followed by LEDs, and inexplicably but vastly important in inks for the later Inkjet business.

He also spent some time on The HP Way, and how he thought it emanated from the founders; he put a reverent, almost religious, tone on it, while agreeing that he never heard them talk in such terms, but clearly they were enlightened in terms of the dignity of EVERY individual who worked for the company. This is not to be confused with "soft-headed" management; we both had no trouble agreeing that they were very hard-headed business guys who set an absolute standard of excellence for work done.

Paul, in my view, was the ONE cog in a long pantheon of HP folk without whom there clearly would not be an HP today in computing. Birnbaum later would provide the competitive strategy that worked for enterprise activities; it would not have been possible or needed without Paul's pioneering leadership. Great to meet a legend, and hear his considered opinion.

SIRS lecture yesterday

I had a great invitation to give a luncheon talk about the forthcoming book yesterday, to the "Sons in Retirement" group in Mountain View, CA. These folk, some 225 strong, are all retired by definition, and for the most part, they looked older than I feel. Although truth be known, I couldn't hardly see them; my eyes were dilated from an earlier visit to a Vitroretinal specialist (good guys to know if you have my problem, but better if you never need to know them).

I held forth for a half-hour, mostly reminiscing about "the origins of Silicon Valley" and filling in gaps for them that the Steve Blank lecture from a year ago managed to omit. Key things like the correlation between the US Forest Service, Cyril Elwell, and the use of short-wave Poulsen transmitters that GE and Marconi wanted "removed from service". The US Navy commandeered all radio manufacturers during WWI, and allowed GE to persuade the US govmt to set up RCA in 1919, and withhold returning assets to the West Coast companies for another two years.

The HP early years, especially the General Radio vs HP evolution, was a fun topic; some of the people were old enough to have been there...

I did manage to irk some ex-IBMers in the crowd apparently; during Q & A, one challenged me saying that IBM earns double the profits of HP. My rejoinder was, perhaps, unkind, citing the recent Biz Week article which noted that IBM has been specifically unfriendly to Americans and hardly worthy of its heritage by spending $73 billion on stock buybacks, creating 133,000 jobs abroad, and jettisoning 36,000 US jobs in the past eight years. Probably shouldn't have been so chary, but it certainly doesn't fit the "citizenship" or "community service" instincts that HP (and IBM) so long espoused. Dunno why I keep beating this dead horse...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Data Visualization

One of the original hallmarks of HP was its "measurement capability". To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To HP, everything looked measureable. So, whether it was atomic physics, chemical analysis, ink composition, or inventory items, HP engineers (and recall that virtually all salespeople were engineers at the time) thought in terms of measuring quantities of things, sizes of things, rates of change, productivity measures, and so forth. This still prevails, as any deep discussion with Ann Livermore's Services teams will quickly reveal (even the EDS acquisition folk are sometimes heard to talk this way).

Enter "data Visualization". You've all seen, perhaps played, the Flight Simulator software packages, and I'm sure that you're aware that all jet pilots in training now learn in simulators (even the hijackers, training in Miami). No one would send a would-be pilot up in the sky to "shoot touch-and-go" with a new Dreamliner, or even a 747. And, thankfully, no one would demand of an erstwhile pilot that he or she solve the calculus equations of landing safely.

And some pretty cool math packages now exist, for PCs and Macs, and even graphing software for HP and TI handheld calculators. By the way, did you know that the HP-12C functions can be bought for the I-Phone now, for a cool $1?

But, we don't teach "mapping" or "data visualization" or any of these "intuitive" tools until or unless you're a math major, well down the road of arcane statistical analysis. Why not? Why shouldn't these be the tools of junior high school kids, alongside algebra and geometry, etc. These tools will be far more useful for citizenry in the 21st century than trig or calculus. Try that idea on your local school board!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Objective Seven -- Community

Dinner last weekend with two HP VPs and two other long-term HP veterans -- 116 years of total service between them. Three of the four argued that HP still had plenty of enthusiasm and dedication, and that the HP Way was alive and well in groups where their leadership was "old school" or simply enlightened and bought into the HP Way as long practiced.

All four, however, reported independently that the image of HP being the leading corporate citizen in the community, long a cherished hallmark of the company, has dried up in the current regime. Carly, they averred, was as strong on that as Lew or even Dave; not so under Hurd.

At a key Foundation meeting in Chicago two weeks earlier, I was astonished and saddened to hear the perspective of leadership at the Gates, Ford, Kauffman, Knight, and MacArthur Foundations, not to mention the Tiger Woods, Carlsen, and other smaller foundations share their feelings about HP absentee-ism for the topic of science and math education in America. They were outspoken about their perception that HP only cares about sales, and ties corporate giving to "deals" at best these days.

Moreover, the considered opinion was that nine of the top ten high-tech firms in America (and recall that HP is now THE top high-tech company on the globe) have their CEO or Chairman or both involved enough in STEM education to be carried on the front pages of the Wall St Journal while HP "stands aside". What the hell has gone wrong at this place? Is the new guy in touch with anything besides the bottom line?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Other featured folk

The HP/Agilent names index has 404 names cited, and this is without noting a sizable number of HP Journal authors cited in the notes sections. So, to some degree, the book celebrates lots of HPites. In addition to the ten folk listed in the last post, there are five other Senior VPs cited on 25 pages or more, another five with 20 pages or more, another eight with 15 pages+, and yet another seven with 10+ pages. So, all told, 35 folk have at least ten pages of their HP career outlined herein. Odds are, you've find someone you know in this list!

And, just think, there are only another 482,000+ HP / Agilent employees and alumni whose stories are not included, that we might try to capture through a Forum...

Some featured folk

In the foreword, six CEO's (2 founders, 2 insiders, 2 outsiders) are mentioned, along with four others (2 R&D leaders, 2 business leaders) who had differential impact on the evolution of HP. Interestingly, to me at least, while other books about HP have included nearly every CEO (some with pretty pointed perspective), virtually none have featured the other four in any depth if at all. Yet it is very clear to any who lived the HP experience that Barney Oliver, Joel Birnbaum, Paul Ely, and Dick Hackborn each had unusually huge impact on the evolution of HP. So from that perspective alone, this book will enrich our understanding of how HP evolved so strongly into the sciences, and then into computing, and later into printing and imaging.

At the same time, this is not to celebrate (only) these individuals, but merely to make it clear that leadership happens at a lot of levels besides the CEO

Monday, August 3, 2009

Agilent and Varian

Last week, Agilent announced intent to buy the Life Sciences portion of Varian, one of the three strands of the original Varian Associates, now fifty-some years old. The San Jose Mercury-News carried a nice story in the Sunday edition, describing some of the long history between the two companies.

The ties, of course, were strong and deep. The Varian brothers were friends with Bill n Dave; Dave was on their Board for many years. Varian was the first company into the Stanford Industrial Park; HP second. Terman was on both Boards. Packard's first "company acquisition" was buying the microwave components segment of Varian in the early 1950's when they moved into NMR (later MRI).

The story did not mention that HP Cupertino began as a Varian site, and when Varian had cash flow problems in the 1970-71 recession, HP bought the site from them for $5M (their asking price), which has been a pretty good purchase, all things considered.

Nor did it mention that much of HP's early semiconductor leadership came from Varian as well, and even the Computer History Museum in its celebration of the 50th year since Fairchild's planar transistor has to date omitted HP's singinficant contributions in this sphere. Does anyone care?

getting out of the penalty box

A reader sent a note this morning, remarking on one of Packard's famous diatribes -- "the Give 'em hell" talk circa 1974. According to the reader's recollection, Packard publically described inappropriate behavior, having to do with putting HP in debt, to a couple of key managers. Later, one became CEO, and the other ran the computer group successfully for years. The question was -- how rare was this, to get out of the penalty box? And does the forthcoming book have some more stories of this type?

I personally experienced this, in an event later given a positive credit via "the Medal of Defiance". It surely didn't feel like a medal at the time!

But of course there are a ton of such stories. We're wrestling with how to collect more of these stories, for in many ways this is the clearest expression of THE HP WAY -- go ahead, make an error, one big enough to get noticed and even singled out for "stupidity" as Obama might say, and then tell how/whether you got back into "good graces". Or, you never did, which makes for a different story

Saturday, July 25, 2009

a rare privilege

Phil McKinney, the CTO for HP's Personal Computer Group, invited me down to Cupertino yesterday for a "living legends" interview. He has a PodCast service, and he has recently interviewed Art Fong and Dave Cochran. What an honor to be included with them!

Phil is one of those firebrands, with red hair, a wiry beard, and a ready smile. He is Irish through and through, though we did the interview without libation. He is the genius behind HP's new Vivianne Tan netbook, a cosmetic accessory that hiked the price and sold out within days for the distaff half. He has been involved with many more serious pursuits as well, including the VoodooPC acquisition to position HP much more strongly in the games/virtual reality space.

The questions were great -- what made you pick HP in the first place? When and why did you leave? How would you suggest that innovation be kept alive in a large, nay HUGE, company? What were you most proud of? Tell me the REAL story behind the Medal of Defiance....

We chatted for the better part of two hours. He is a skillful interviewer, and he clearly brings passion and desire to his job. My guess is that people who work around Phil McKinney would agree that HP still has the HP Way working. What a privilege!

Friday, July 24, 2009

indexing MBWA in the book

MBWA -- Management by Wandering Around -- is covered in the book in several places. A quick perusal of the index shows the following pp: 7, 65, 80, 85, 277, 358, 374, 530-31

the HP Way is covered in much more depth, to wit, pp: 5, 9, 78, 113, 120-21, 217, 284, 295, 325, 385, 402, 404, 452; business value, 30, 34, 465; challenged, 277, 284, 358, 385, 436; by computer folk, 126, 169, 191, 210; by Fiorina, 2, 383, 439, 442, 450, 453, 463, 473, 474-75, 477-78, 482-83, 515; by Hackborn, 438, 453; by Hurd, 3-4, 437, 475, 477, 480, 483, 497, 514; by Yansouni, 329; by Young, 245, 479, 484; compared to..., 19, 116, 456-57; 501; definition, 7, 21, 23, 35-36, 89, 177, 282, 382-84, 469, 486-87, 536; espoused (by Barnholt, 422, 465; by Doyle, 463; by Platt, 386, 390, 393, 484-85; irrelevant, 34, 404, 419, 507; nine-day fortnight, 158, 452; resilience, 383, 469, 473; scaling, 60, 62-63, 79, 84; teaching, 197, 199, 276, 484

the HP Way (Packard's book), 14, 28, 540

The HP Way ... still alive?

The HP Alumni Association has had a brief and wonderfully spirited exchange these past few days about MBWA and the HP Way. One particularly great input came from Myron Tuttle, a 28 year veteran:

"I remeber hearing a story about Bill walking into one of the manufacturing lines (I think it was Santa Clara) and after talking to one of the production people took the instrument they were assembling and dropped it to the floor -- just to see how sturdy it was. Shortly after that a (polite) memo was sent to Corporate that Bill and Dave would no longer be allowed into the divisions unannounced or unescorted. They caused too much disruption to the production lines!

"One day I was eating lunch (I think it was in 5L) and Bill was there carrying his tray to a table. He saw a spill on the floor, set his tray on a table, and went and got a towel to wipe it up. Somehow I just can't see Carly or Mark doing something like that. (I don't know if either of them have even ever seen the employee cafeteria.)

"Wonderful memories. But those were the days

"Myron Tuttle, HP 1974-2002, APD, DTD, POD... NSD

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Indexing the book

Twelve thousand seven hundred thirty one citations in the indices (so far), and going blind from the process. B-trieve datatables and search terms for pdf. files are helpful, but not perfect. For example, Hennessy (a big name at Stanford, and this is a Stanford Press book, recall) was spelt correctly on the submitted pages, but not on the pageproofs. And a search block didn't find the misspellings, which of course are what you are looking for primarily.

Speaking of going blind, I thought that I was -- this is a lot of text, and reading/rereading has taken a toll. Mostly psychologically, I tried to convince myself. But upon reflection, I had had one of those funny little incidents, where some big reddish floaters appeared in one eye after awakening one day. I don't know about you, but I usually go to the Web to do some investigative self diagnosis. This said, go see an eye doc. Well, I was in Italy, and the floaters sank out of sight in a few hours, and ...

Anyway, more recently I seemed unable to focus on small print stuff, and lo that eye doc idea resurfaced. After an immodest four hours of tests, and learning about optical coherence tomography, I was pleased (I think) to learn that I have Macular Pucker, which is somewhat better than a lot of other things it could have been. First of all, it is not degenerative, and is not particularly disabling. So that's great. Second, it is to some degree amenable to surgical fix -- though not able to restore what was once (hell, I've got lots of things that will never again be as they once were).

OCT was basically invented circa 1995 at MIT, and this version of equipment dates to early 2003. There is stuff now that is 100x as sensitive, able to pinpoint tumors and all manner of problems. Now if we could just match real-time surgical tools to these highly accurate imaging tools, what a breakthrough that would be. The OCT technique relies on a combination of sonar, backscattering lightwaves, and transmission differences in sub-surface retinal tissue -- oldtimers at HP might call it Time Domain Reflectometry ala Barney Oliver's old thesis that Lee Moffitt productized beautifully before he left for a career at Bell Labs. Damn, now that I think about it, I didn't include TDR or Lee in the book.

Ah, well, viva those medical instruments that rely on great physics...

Calif governor contenders

Some are asking -- what's with ex-CEOs running for public office, especially in these hard times? Not everyone recalls when H. Ross Perot ran twice for President, probably drawing enough support in 1992 to swing the election to Clinton. The great thing then, or joke depending on your persuasion, was his strong use of pie charts and graphs -- typecast him immediately as "gasp" an engineer. So now we have, in the broken financial state of California, vying for the chance to become the governor, two Republicans -- Carly Fiorina, ex-CEO of HP, and Meg Whitman, retired CEO of E-Bay.

They had very different exits from their respective CEO roles.

Fiorina, mostly vilified for breaking the vaunted HP Way, and a terrible approach to "the people", not to mention a dumb strategy to buy Compaq after a ludicrous failed attempt to buy PricewaterhouseCoopers for whopping big money. The Board, belatedly said many, gave her the boot unceremoniously; the old guard danced for joy (that is, until the next one brought PRETEXTING into the vocabulary).

Whitman, almost reverently revered for her kindly and mannerly approach, plus her clear success in leading EBay from a virtual standing start to a global powerhouse.

The irony today is that the E-Bay strategy has been described in many circles, by Whitman's chosen replacement and several Board members, not to mention pundits galore, as BROKEN, and the company is trying hard to figure out how to remake itself to "save itself" from disaster.

HP, meanwhile, was able to displace Dell despite all the pundits, and it did so quietly, but with vengeance almost from the hour that Fiorina inked the deal. Granted, it took three years to catch them, and two more to thump them, but she did see the opportunity and seized the momentum when almost everyone decried it. And the PwC deal? Despite the hype about overpricing, IBM wound up paying 92% of Fiorina's offer (in post denominated $$$), and it is today the basis of more than 60% of their total business. Hurd read the tea leaves, one might assert, and bought the nearest competitor with the EDS purchase -- and services for HP are now larger than printing/imaging/ink as a collective group, not to mention those PCs and enterprise servers. Imagine -- HP's seventh incarnation, services, which last quarter became the #1 play of HP.

So, the choice for the Republican nominee will likely pit two or three classic politicos against a friendly non-strategist and a combative leader. Recall that Churchill only got the nod in wartime

Monday, June 1, 2009

HP Halo vs Cisco Telepresence

Once again, with a different rival this time, solid HP engineering and miniscule marketing weighs in against someone with almost reverse skillset. The HP Halo design has much to offer -- the eye gaze is really pretty good, even "cross-court", and the sound is inherently crisp and clear. Cisco Telepresence is terrible for "straight-ahead" discussions for people not sitting at the head; you are always looking at a side profile as the person intently gazes off over your shoulder.

For HP, the psychology of the users has been carefully thought through, and it shows, in minute detail after detail. For Cisco, "the wrong people" have been using the system more than was anticipated, but utilization is up, WAY UP. And they are awakening to the fact that "everyone" is thrilled to use there tools.

HP Halo marketing is akin to the old joke about HP trying to sell sushi, by marketing it as "cold, dead fish". Here, they market the travel cost savings, while the most significant gains are increased productivity, decreased mistakes at a distance, and better collaboration -- hardly mentioned in the standard materials.

Cisco on the other hand, has a proselyting CEO who loves this technology, one who uses it daily and speaks glowingly about it in forum after forum. In 135 weeks, they have installed 480 systems within the company for 40,000 employees; HP in almost two hundred weeks has managed only to install 80 in a company with 320,000 employees. Some might note that the cross-product is (320)/(40)*(480/80)*(200/135) = 72x more enthusiasm at Cisco than at HP

What's wrong with this picture (that $10,000,000 won't fix it)?

Joel commenting about the author

In response to another request, Joel Birnbaum filed some interesting words about the book, and about Chuck House, one of the two authors:

"When I came to HP as a rare outsider hired into a high position, many people advised me to look up Chuck as someone who really understood the soul of the company. He was famous in HP for his wit, his creativity, and his willingness to speak out against things that he thought short-sighted or self-serving. I found that he more than deserved his reputation

"When he noticed that much had been written about the history and influence of HP during the Hewlett and Packard era, and still more about Carly Fiorina and her successor, but almost nothing about the 20 odd years in-between, he decided that this transformative period (HP went from a test and measurement company to the world’s largest printer manufacturer and the second largest computer company in that period) needed to be documented accurately. His soon to be published book, for which I was interviewed extensively, is likely to find wide acceptance and is a marvel of careful research and writing.

"Chuck is a witty, daring and very effective speaker, and during our time together in HP he lent his name and his energy to many causes that resulted in dramatic improvements in the infrastructure and internal toolsets, not always with the prior approval of upper management. HP was eventually proud of these sometimes irreverent accomplishments, and many found their way into the literature and are in wide use in the industry today

"For all of his career, Chuck’s signature style has been his refusal to accept the status quo for purely historical reasons, and to think creatively and deeply about a problem or opportunity and then, often with recruited partners, to seek a novel solution.

"Chuck’s style, while often flamboyant to attract attention to his causes, is inherently a modest one


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Still asking about the book

Stanford University Press, available in September 2009, 640 pp. We've been through picture collection, approvals from various sources, vetting by many, and not a few disclaimers and skirmishes in the past year. Difficult to write a book that has so much (debatable) history; much like the old "telephone" game used as an icebreaker at parties.

One venerable Valley leader re-wrote his quoted passages six times over two weekends; several shied away from their oral interviews but allowed some of the material to survive the scrutiny of day. HP PR made it absolutely clear that HP was not a supporter of the book -- it is not ENDORSED by the current regime. But they did agree to let Mark Hurd's picture appear alongside the five previous CEO portraits.

The book is not a quick read. It doesn't fit the Harvard Business Press model, of a simple thesis repeated four times in 200 pp, with a catchy phrase that becomes the next fad. Think for example about the catch phrase "Core Competence" that has led to more companies outsourcing their crown jewels and chance for innovative corpoate renewal than anyone would ever have conceived when the article was first published.

What it does do is outline how HP, more than any other company in history, was able to renew itself time after time, building new strengths in areas hardly recognizable to the earlier teams, and doing so successfully enough to keep the company on a strong growth trajectory for seven decades. It is a story we think worth telling, and it is a shame that an average of only ten pages are available for each $2 Billion in sales and year of existence. Obviously it had to be culled mercilessly to get to a mere 640 pp. And all that for only $35.00 at your neighborhood retail bookstore.

Attending the HP35 IEEE Milestone event

I had the privilege of an invitation to this singular event, held in the HP Labs cafeteria at 1501 Page Mill Road. Eighty-three people attended, including eleven of the original design team and some twenty-three family members for them and a couple of deceased contributors. It was an extraordinary event, for an extraordinary product for the world and for this venerable company's history.

Dave Cochran was the instigator of the application for the award, and it was indeed fitting that Lewis Terman was the presenter, as the outgoing IEEE President, and son of the famed Fred Terman who gave Bill 'n Dave the impetus to start HP in the first place. Cochran related that Fred, not known either for his computer knowledge or his software awareness, actually found the first bug in the HP35 prototype, a fitting tribute to the "founder of Silicon Valley" who really never had anything to do with silicon except maybe this product.

HP's press release noted that the HP35 "put HP into the consumer electronics space". This is worth putting into context -- HP had 1,600 products in the catalog after 32 years in business, none of which sold more than ten units per day. The HP35, in its fifth month of sales, sold 1,000 units per day, completely upsetting production schedules, inventory control, sales approaches (no one knew how to cash a check in the sales offices!), among other things.

The HP35 accounted for 6% of sales in its first year, and a whopping 41% of profits. Sales in the second year approached $100M, about the same as the current product line. Back then, it was 13% of the company, today the same revenue is one-tenth of 1%. The company grew 38% that year in revenue, almost double the typical growth rate of the corporation. It would stand as the highest growth year in the company's long history, and nearly 40% of that total growth came from the HP35 alone.

More importantly, it changed HP designs (with Chris Clare and Tom Whitney teaching algorithmic design methods to the entire company), HP marketing (doing "shelf-space" instead of "made-to-order"), and the perception of the world about this "little Palo Alto instrument company".

IEEE Milestone for HP35 announcement

On April 14, 2009, the IEEE, the world's largest technical professional association, awarded HP the prestigious IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing award for its HP-35 Scientific Calculator.Introduced in 1972, the HP-35 was the world's first handheld-sized scientific calculator, standing apart from its peers, which could only perform four basic functions - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

The HP-35, named for its 35 keys, performed all the functions of the slide rule to 10-digit precision and could determine the decimal point or power-of-10 exponent through a full 200-decade range. This combination of features ultimately made the slide rule, which had been used by generations of engineers and scientists, obsolete.

The HP-35 was HP's first product that contained both integrated circuits and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). Both technologies had been developed in HP Labs, the company's central research arm.The HP-35 was an innovative culmination of mechanical design, state-of-the-art technology, algorithm development and application - all unique at the time of its development.

"The HP-35 fundamentally changed the way engineers, mathematicians, scientists and students worked, delivering unprecedented portable computing power," said Jason Zajac, vice president and general manager, Worldwide Attach Group, HP. "The HP-35 was the company's first consumer electronic device, and from that bright beginning, HP has continued to innovate and grow a technology portfolio that spans calculating solutions that dynamically capture physical data and leading-edge touch technology that is changing how people interact with technology."

The HP-35 was developed when HP co-founder Bill Hewlett challenged HP engineers to take their current desktop computer, the HP-9100, and create a similarly capable device that fit in his shirt pocket. Even as initial market research deemed the $395 product to be too expensive, HP recognized its significance and the market need and plunged ahead. While HP expected to sell 10,000 to break even, the demand for the HP-35 exceeded expectations and more than 100,000 were sold during its first year on the market.

IEEE established the Electrical Engineering Milestones program in 1983 to honor significant achievements in the history of electrical and electronics engineering. To be awarded, technologies must have stood the test of time. Currently, there are fewer than 100 IEEE milestones; among these are Benjamin Franklin's work with electricity and Volta's invention of the electrical battery."The HP-35 helped accelerate the pace of technological change and revolutionized the engineering profession by allowing almost-instantaneous, extremely accurate scientific calculations anywhere and anytime," said Lewis Terman, 2008 IEEE president. "The HP-35 made it possible to conduct complicated calculations wherever they were needed, with speed and accuracy that well surpassed the slide rule. It played a key role in the lives and projects of countless engineers and scientists."An IEEE Milestone plaque recording the award will be permanently displayed at HP Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., the site where the HP-35 was originally developed.

Since the introduction of the HP-35, HP has ushered in a new era of computing and redefined the way people learn, teach and use calculating technologies and solutions for students, professionals and consumers of all stages of life. HP continues its heritage of developing innovative calculating solutions for the scientific, financial, education and general home and office markets.Additional details about the HP Calculators and this news are available at The milestone event was broadcast online at Ustream.TV which could be viewed at

Whither HP Now

Ashlee Vance, in the Sunday New York Times, took on the role of critic -- in the grand tradition of many journalists and analysts over the years. His target, not untypically, was the current CEO, in this case the teflon-coated Mark Hurd.

See TECHNOLOGY / COMPANIES April 26, 2009 Does H.P. Need a Dose of Anarchy? By ASHLEE VANCE Mark V. Hurd took over Hewlett-Packard and made it the world's largest technology company. The giant is now finding its way in a world full of smaller, more agile rivals.

I was quoted as saying they were seemingly under-investing in R and D, to which Shane Robison gave a snarling reply. But the facts are irrefutable -- HP, after spending 9% of revenues for sixty years, almost like clockwork, cut that to 6% under Lew Platt's regime, and from the midpoint of Carly's time until now, it has been reduced by a cool 0.5% per year, until now it is only 3% of revenues, one-half of IBM's investments in the future. To cut R and D by two-thirds, to rework HP Labs to the point of only pursuing work that the divisions will market or that universities will support (huh, say that again?), is to sell out the future. Period.

One might confidently predict that the constant wellspring of "renewal" -- so long the hallmark of HP -- is running dry. The acquisitions had better work