Look At All The Tech Hewlett-Packard -- One Of America's Most Iconic Companies -- Has Created

Seventy-five years ago (that would be 1939), Stanford University buddies Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard launched the original Silicon Valley garage startup.

On a shoestring budget, the friends invented a series of electronics gadgets sometimes using the Packard family oven to put on finishing touches. Walt Disney Studios was one of their first customers.

Flash forward to June 2014 and HP is one of the biggest tech companies in the world, employing over 330,000 people. HP is digging itself out of some hard times, implementing a multiyear turnaround that’s involved laying off up to 50,000 since 2012.

And it’s going back to its roots: inventing or advancing new forms of electronics. Earlier this month, HP Labs shows off an ambitious new kind of computer that it hopes will shrink a data center to the size of a refridgerator. The computer, code-named “The Machine,” will require HP to invent a new kind of computer memory, perfect a new way to transfer data using light (i.e. photonics), instead of traditional copper wire, and invent a whole new operating system.

But HP is up to the task. It’s been inventing hardware for 75 years.

1938: The Valley garage startup

In 1938, at a garage that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard rented for their startup, the two developed their first product: something called 'an audio oscillator' that was used to test high-quality audio frequencies.

HP was founded shortly after, in 1939.

During HP's earliest years, oscillators were used to design and test other electronics including telephones, stereos, radios, and other audio equipment.

In 1999, HP spun out this original business unit into a company called Agilent, which is still going strong today.

And here's the actual garage ...

Hewlett-Packard's rented garage where the company was founded

The garage, shed, and house that launched HP have also been restored and furnished as to represent 1939.

Visitors can see it today at 367 Addison Ave., Palo Alto, California.

1938: The audio oscillator

Here's a 2014 photo of the HP Audio Oscillator 200A, fully restored.

1972: The scientific calculator

1972: On January 4, 1972, HP introduced the world's first scientific pocket calculator, the HP-35, which made the engineer's slide rule obsolete.

This is the product that put HP on the map with consumers, everyone from engineering students to accountants. A vintage HP-35 in perfect condition could set you back about $US500 on eBay today.

The HP-35 was the first HP product to be sold primarily by direct mail and was HP's first product that contained both HP designed chips (integrated circuits) and LED lights.

1977: The smartwatch

1977: The HP-01 wrist instrument looked like a digital watch but was smarter than many pocket calculators.

HP likes to claim that this watch was actually the 'first wearable,' predating today's smartwatches by over 35 years.

And it was pretty smart by the standards of the watch of the day. It had six interactive functions (time, alarm, timer/stopwatch, date/calendar, calculator, and memory). It even had 28 tiny keys that you pressed with a stylus built into the bracelet.

1980: A laptop computer

1980: In 1980, HP released the HP-85, its first PC. And it was a 'portable' (the laptop of the day).

HP didn't invent the PC and wasn't even all that early to the market. The IBM 5100, which looked similar, had been out for five years already.

However, HP did design almost all the electronics for the HP-85 itself, including the CPU.

Given that HP would later become one of the world's largest manufacturers of PCs, this first device was worth a shout-out. It had 16K of memory. The K stands for kilobytes; that's far smaller than megabytes or gigabytes.

1980: Laser printer

1980: HP introduced its first floor model laser printer in 1980.

This is the HP 2680A Intelligent Page Printer.

Again, HP didn't invent the laser printer, Xerox did, and IBM was first to market with a commercial printer.

But HP would become known for its LaserJet, a low-priced laser printer for consumers and PCs that sold like crazy. This was the model that started it all.

1984: Inkjet printer

1984: The ThinkJet was HP's first inkjet printer. It operated quietly, was fully portable, and could be used with the growing number of PCs in offices and homes..

Back in the day when people still printed things like memos, you had two choices: a laser printer or an ink printer. An ink printer was an affordable way to print in colour.

HP's ThinkJet was a breakthrough because the ink cartridges were disposable and replaceable.

1986: A powerful computer chip

1986: Most of us know that Intel's microprocessors powered the PC revolution, along with the Windows operating system.

But there was another kind of chip, known as RISC, created for servers and workstations. These were computers that were far more powerful than the average PC.

HP didn't invent RISC, but it was the first vendor to bet heavily on it, building its own RISC processor and putting it in the HP 3000 Series 950 computers.

Today RISC is the standard and even Intel uses it. Pictured is the HP 3000 Series 950 computer chip from 1987.

2002: A DVD breakthrough

2002: Before the cloud and internet streaming, people would record movies on laser disks. But the early versions could only be used once. Whatever was recorded was there for good.

HP Labs takes credit for the first rewritable DVD system (DVD+RW) that was actually compatible with standard DVD players, instead of expensive specialty players.

The technology let users record, erase, and re-record video onto discs that can be played on any typical DVD player. It replaced VHS video tape.

2013: A tiny computer server

2013: Based on 10 years of research from HP Labs, HP introduced a tiny-but-powerful computer server called Moonshot.

Moonshot servers run on extreme low-energy microprocessors originally designed for mobile phones and use up to 89% less energy, 80% less space, and costs 77% less than traditional servers.

2104: A brand-new kind of computer

2014: Earlier this month HP announced a project code-named 'The Machine' which will be an entirely new kind of computer, able to handle a data center's worth of processing in a machine the size of refridgerator.

It will use a new kind of superfast memory that HP is pioneering called the 'memristor.'

HP is inventing other pieces of hardware for it, too, including a new free and open-source operating system based on Linux.

HP hopes to have the commercial product available by the end of the decade.

These days Facebook is the one inventing tons of cool hardware ...

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