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In 1960, when Hewlett-Packard built offices and a new boardroom at 1501 Page Mill Road in Palo Alto, Calif., the facility was state of the art and evoked the new frontier. Now, it’s a nostalgic reminder of a time when people smoked in their offices and nearly every available surface was covered with simulated wood paneling. rn
rnHP doesn’t throw out a lot–the 20-foot table in the main conference room today is the same one the board used to meet around. The offices of deceased co-founders David Packard and Bill Hewlett are still intact too. We took a tour this week and here’s what we found.rn
rnIs this a ride at Tomorrowland? Is it a pancake house somewhere in Los Angeles? It’s the entrance to 1501 Page Mill Road.
This futuristic mosaic, which decorates the entrance to the building, extols the wonders of geometry. There are, however, no Pan Am stewardesses nearby.
A “D. Packard” nameplate still graces the office of co-founder David Packard.
The 200C oscillator, which the company sold between 1941 and 1954. (Oscillators essentially generate high-frequency waves for communications.) The 200C is an improvement on the 200A oscillator, the company’s first product, which it sold to Walt Disney. There is no 100 series of oscillator. The company didn’t think Disney would buy something from a company that had only put out one product. (The founders are in the picture, standing in front of the front-entrance mosaic. Packard is the tall one.)
HP’s first inkjet printer, introduced in 1984. HP Labs devised thermal inkjet printing, with the first models called “thinkjets.” Although the thinkjet name disappeared, inkjet printers did go on to replace dot-matrix printers.
The HP-35 scientific calculator, which debuted in 1972, around the same time dingo boots were in fashion. It had logarithmic and exponential functions and could handle 10-digit numbers. It replaced the slide rule. Bill Hewlett told the designers to make something that would fit into a shirt pocket.
Hewlett’s office. Employees occasionally go in and leave change on his desk, and HP officials then donate it to charity. Since a lot of the money is foreign, it probably doesn’t get used in the soda machine. You don’t see chairs with wheels like this much anymore.
A framed photo shows Packard, who was about 6 feet 7 inches, shaking hands with President Reagan as he accepts the National Medal of Technology in 1988.
Packard’s ’60s phone. You can almost imagine Nixon calling up on that thing, or David Janssen. That curved item is an ink blotter. (Packard’s and Hewlett’s offices are next to each other but divided by the executive washroom).
Both Hewlett and Packard maintained an open-door policy. This picture of Packard’s door shows that the sun has bleached the linoleum except where it was hidden by the open door.