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The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company

The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company

4.8 8
by David Packard

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In the fall of 1930, David Packard left his hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, to enroll at Stanford University, where he befriended another freshman, Bill Hewlett. After graduation, Hewlett and Packard decided to throw their lots in together. They tossed a coin to decide whose name should go first on the notice of incorporation, then cast about in search of products to


In the fall of 1930, David Packard left his hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, to enroll at Stanford University, where he befriended another freshman, Bill Hewlett. After graduation, Hewlett and Packard decided to throw their lots in together. They tossed a coin to decide whose name should go first on the notice of incorporation, then cast about in search of products to sell.

Today, the one-car garage in Palo Alto that housed their first workshop is a California historic landmark: the birthplace of Silicon Valley. And Hewlett-Packard has produced thousands of innovative products for millions of customers throughout the world. Their little company employs 98,400 people and boasts constantly increasing sales that reached $25 billion in 1994.

While there are many successful companies, there is only one Hewlett-Packard, because from the very beginning, Hewlett and Packard had a way of doing things that was contrary to the prevailing management strategies. In defining the objectives for their company, Packard and Hewlett wanted more than profits, revenue growth and a constant stream of new, happy customers.

Hewlett-Packard's success owes a great deal to many factors, including openness to change, an unrelenting will to win, the virtue of sustained hard work and a company-wide commitment to community involvement. As a result, HP now is universally acclaimed as the world's most admired technology company; its wildly successful approach to business has been immortalized as The HP Way.

In this book, David Packard tells the simple yet extraordinary story of his life's work and of the truly exceptional company that he and Bill Hewlett started in a garage 55 years ago.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
An unswerving chronology of the life and most good times of Hewlett-Packard, from its notional beginnings . . . to its luminous present.
Library Journal
Hewlett-Packard is a high-tech company with over $25 billion in sales; the Hewlett-Packard way has obviously been quite successful. Here, one of the company's founders tells the story of its growth. Packard frequently becomes nostalgic, such as when talking about his first vacuum tube. He explains why Hewlett-Packard follows strong management practices: management by objectives, educational subsidies for employees, profit sharing, and giving authority to employees closest to the customers. Packard also served as a Defense Department official and in doing so chose to give $20 million to charity to avoid ethical conflicts. The company history Packard relates is, however, an uncritical review. The cassettes, narrated by Martin Bookspan, are of limited use because they offer little discussion of ideas that a person in business might adopt. Not an important purchase.-Mark Guyer, Stark Cty. Dist. Lib., Canton, Ohio
David Rouse
More than 50 years ago, when California's Santa Clara Valley was known by the mountains that formed it rather than by the silicon-based technology utilized by the many companies that proliferated there, electronics giant Hewlitt-Packard was born in a Palo Alto garage. As the company expanded, founders David Packard and Bill Hewlitt maintained their management style, which was influenced in part by a laid-back California culture and came to be known as the "HP way." Elements of their "way" are included in much of today's popular management philosophies: listening to customers, trusting employees, decentralizing, being sensitive to social responsibility, etc. Here Packard offers reminiscences of how, as his subtitle indicates, Bill and he built their company. Much more personal than standard corporate histories, Packard's book provides insights into managing and motivating people and inspiration for would-be entrepreneurs.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Collins Business Essentials
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Read an Excerpt

Pueblo to Stanford

As we get older we have the opportunity to look back over many years and see how certain events, seemingly unimportant at the time, had a profound effect in shaping our business or professional careers.

In my own case there were two such events. One occurred in the summer of 1929 when I was given a tour of Stanford University. This introduction to Stanford led to my decision to attend the university. The second event, related to the first, was becoming acquainted with Professor Fred Terman at Stanford. It was Fred who sparked my interest in electronics and who later encouraged and helped Bill Hewlett and me go into business for ourselves. His interest and faith in our abilities, even at our young age and in the midst of the Great Depression, gave us confidence and helped set a course for us.

I was born in Pueblo, Colorado, in 1912. My father was a lawyer and my mother a high school teacher. They met at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and after they were married they moved to Pueblo, which was my father's home. My younger sister, Ann Louise, was born in 1915.

Pueblo in 1912 resembled less a midwestern farm community than it did a western frontier city or border town. There was a steel mill and several foundries that smelted ore from Leadville and other mines in the Rocky Mountains to the west. Pueblo was tough and violent, with immigrant workers, a few gangsters, and lots of brothels and saloons. Street fights and shootings were not uncommon.

We lived on the north side of the city right next to the prairie. I could cross the street in front of our house and find horned toads (which are almost extinct today) and wild onionsand cactus, which often gave shelter to rattlesnakes.

We could look across the prairie and see Pikes Peak about fifty miles to the north, and about thirty miles to the west, the Wet Mountain Range. I spent many hours roaming the prairie, sometimes with childhood friends, sometimes alone, until my high school years, when studies and school activities consumed most of my time. But in those early years of roaming, my love of nature was born.

One of my early recollections of Pueblo was the great flood of 1921. I recall going downtown with my father and seeing mud about four feet deep. Another memorable sight was a railroad boxcar stuck in the second-floor window of one of the main buildings. A fleet of four-wheel-drive army trucks was brought in to haul the mud and debris out of the city and dump it in the prairie about a mile north of our house. A number of kids from our neighborhood went out and sifted through the mud, intrigued with the possibility of finding something of value. But I don't recall finding anything useful.

Our house in Pueblo was on the corner of Twenty-ninth Street and High Street. It was set back from Twenty-ninth Street to provide for a large yard. The yard was divided into two roughly equal sections by a row of lilac bushes. In the front section was a rose arbor and a bed of peonies, with the rest in lawn. In the rear section were some fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and a pool near a wildflower garden.

My father had no interest in gardening, and so the entire garden was my mother's project. I started helping my mother when I was quite young, and gardening became a lifelong interest for me. I also found it to be an excellent recreational activity, for one quickly forgets the troubles of the world when absorbed with gardening. As an adult, wherever we were located for a period of time, I had a garden, and now that I am retired, I enjoy devoting more time to gardening projects. I also have an avid interest in farming and ranching.

Early Experiments

As a very young child, I must have had some aptitude for science and math; my parents did nothing to discourage me--I spent hours curled up with the family World Book Encyclopedia, studying every entry on the natural sciences. I also conducted my own experiments. I remember that while quite young I got a thrill from looking at pictures of railroads, bridges, motors, generators, and other mechanical and electrical equipment. I tried to simulate some of these devices with small-scale models in our backyard. An older boy, Lloyd Penrose, lived across the alley behind us. His mother and sister had tuberculosis, and Lloyd worked in the evenings at an amusement park across town to help support them. He also helped me with my models and devices, and we became good friends. Later on, since he could not afford to go to college, Lloyd joined the navy, and we kept in touch for many years. The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett And I Built Our Company. Copyright © by David Packard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

With Bill Hewlett, David Packard was cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard Company. In September 1993, he retired as chairman of the board and was named chairman emeritus. He served in that position until his death on March 26, 1996.

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The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great. Very easy text,and it's pretty short. David Packard wrote a very simple, yet interesting book. This book goes way back to when David Packard was a little kid, to the mid ninetees when HP was a powerhouse. I enjoyed reading it, and I will recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about the history of Hewlett-Packard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Considering that an electrical engineer like David Packard could have written a, boring, detailed account of how he and Bill Hewlett pieced together their very first piece of equipment in the now famous Palo Alto, California garage. This book surprises you with its simple down to earth account of how it all began and how they built this tiny garage shop into the multi billion dollar company that it is today. They did it not only with a strong belief in new and innovative products, but in the people that helped build the company. This simple belief built the foundation into the HP Way of corporate greatness. The book was simply written, but it is this style that allowed me to understand the friendship between David Packard and Bill Hewlett and the corporate culture that they developed at HP. I would recommend this book to anyone that is a manager or executive to benchmark the corporate culture that HP established or applaud yourself if you have already embraced the HP Way. I trully believe, as David Packard and Bill Hewlett did, that you need a strong belief in people to make a company succeed.