Thursday, November 12, 2009

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.

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