This is the first of a two-part article on Hewlett-Packard as we celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary of HP Labs – the research and development (R&D) division of the multinational giant that is currently guiding the company into the future.
The path towards the future has also led to a split, with two publicly-listed companies born on November 1 last year. Few headlines of the past decade have caused as much tumult in the business world as the announcement that Hewlett-Packard would separate into two distinct companies: Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and HP Inc. Some called the move bold; others saw it as a sign that the Silicon Valley powerhouse was responding, perhaps belatedly, to an utterly transformed tech landscape.
Before we look into the future, let’s first take a trip back 77 years ago to January 1, 1939 when two electrical engineer graduates with an initial capital investment of US$538 started a company that would eventually be the world’s leading PC company with a net worth in the billions.
Hwelett-Packard: a one-car garage and a toss of the coin
It’s a typical American start-up success story. A one car garage and two great minds. In the case of Hewlett Packard the garage was located in Palo Alto, California and the two great minds belonged to William “Bill” Hewlett and David “Dave” Packard.
Palo Alto is well-known in high-tech circles as an “incubator” having spawned companies such as Google, Facebook and Logitech among others.
But the HP story goes way back before these new-comers.
It was 1939 and the two co-founders of HP tossed a coin to decide whether the company they had founded in a garage would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett. Bill won the toss and HP incorporated in 1947 and went public in 1957.
Their first commercially viable product was a precision audio oscillator. One of the earliest customers was Walt Disney Productions which bought eight Model 200B oscillators at $71.50 each for use in certifying the Fantasia surround sound systems installed in theatres for the movie Fantasia.
Early focus on scientific, business and industry sectors
HP’s early focus was on research and development in the areas of science, business and industrial markets. It was this focus that caused Steve Wozniak to eventually partner with Steve Jobs and start up Apple. HP turned Wozniak down five times after he designed the Apple 1 computer and tried to convince HP to further develop and market the device.
HP would go on and develop scientific and business calculators, oscilloscopes, logic analyzers and other measurement instruments. Wozniak and Jobs would go on to start up another IT giant in Apple Inc.
While Wozniak and Jobs were focused on personal computers, what was happening at Hewlett Packard was the laying of a foundation and dedicated commitment to research and development that would position HP for massive growth during the IT revolution of the 80s and 90s.
HP would eventually find a faster way into the PC market with the acquisition of Compaq computers in 2002.
HP is a company that can truly lay claim to developing the future of information technology.
It now produces lines of printers, scanners, digital cameras, calculators, servers, workstation computers, and computers for home and small-business use. Many of the computers came from the smart 2002 merger with Compaq.
As of 2001, HP began promoting itself as supplying not just hardware and software, but also a full range of services to design, implement, and support IT infrastructure.
HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) was described by the company in 2005 as “the leading imaging and printing systems provider in the world for printer hardware, printing supplies and scanning devices, providing solutions across customer segments from individual consumers to small and medium businesses to large enterprises”.
Think about it – the Imaging and Printing Group have been at the forefront of major developments in inkjet and laser jet printers; consumables and related products; all-in-one printer/scanner/faxes; large format printers; and a variety of digital printing applications.
Another side of the business, the Personal Systems Group (PSG) claims to be “one of the leading vendors of personal computers in the world based on unit volume shipped and annual revenue.”
Once again, much of this ground was made with the acquisition of Compaq.
At the same time HP continued to develop within and for the areas of science, industry and big business.
In our next article we will look at some of the futuristic projects HP is committed to, mainly in the area of 3D printing.
For now, let’s take a look at where the company has arrived in development of laptops and personal computers with the HP Spectre 360 – claimed to be the world’s thinnest laptop.
HP Spectre 360 – state of the art
HP has a multitude of laptops, desktop PCs, tablets and printers. Some are at the budget end for home and business, some are specifically designed for and targeted at gamers.
At the top end and a truly state of the art device is the HP Spectre 360.
The Spectre 360 lays claim to being the world’s thinnest laptop at 10.4 mm with full Intel Core i5 or i7 power.
Equipping a device so thin with so much power requires a special approach to cooling. Breakthrough hyperbaric cooling technology from Intel actively draws cool air in, rather than just venting heat out. This allows us to utilise a more powerful processor without overheating. Combined with dynamic power settings that adjust to your workload, this laptop keeps cool and stays at peak performance.
The breakthrough hyperbaric cooling system doesn’t just push heat out of the machine – it actually draws in cool air and directs it over the processor, to keep it running at peak performance.
In looks and design the Spectre 360 is a 13 inch hybrid lap-top come tablet, weighing in at just 1.1 kilograms.
The beautiful state of the art HP Spectre 360
The use of carbon fibre and aluminium in the body of the laptop gives it the look and feel of pure luxury. The two-tone finish on the copper-coloured spine provides a classy contrast. The interface is a durable and scratch resistant edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass display.
The device’s best feature is its ability to morph from a laptop into a full-on Windows 10 tablet. This is achieved by flipping the screen back 360 degrees, thanks to a seamless geared hinge, which allows the laptop screen to smoothly arc up and down.
This transforming mechanic might sound very similar any of Lenovo’s Yoga hybrids – which have spawned more than a dozen copycat devices – but HP has come up with a design that blends in.
Whereas the watchband-inspired strips of metal found on the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro stick out like a sore thumb, the metal hinges on the Spectre 360 look like they’re simply part of the machine.
On the audio side of things, HP has also made this device state of the art, engaging Bang & Olufsen to provide “PC audio perfection.”
HP Audio Boost gives you the maximum volume you need to experience entertainment to the fullest with outstanding clarity and more dynamic sound.
Another state of the art feature in the Spectre 360 is its hybrid battery. Four prismatic battery cells are distributed throughout the device in order to maximise the battery capacity in this ultra-thin design, enabling you to work longer on a single charge.