In 1938, David Packard and William Hewlett began work in the now legendary garage, working part-time with $538 as capital. Their partnership was officially formed on 1 January 1939 with the order of names decided by a coin toss. In 1957, the company had its first public stock offering.
The contributions of Packard and Hewlett to the industry are intimately tied to the innovations introduced by the Hewlett-Packard Company (HP). HP was an electronics instrument manufacturing company. Its first computer, labeled as such, was the HP 2116A in 1966 as a controller for test and measurement equipment. In 1968, HP introduced the desktop scientific calculator, the HP 9100A. Its introduction of the HP 35 scientific hand-held calculator in 1972 led directly to the demise of the slide rule. The HP 3000 minicomputer was introduced the same year. The HP 9000 was introduced in 1982. In 1985 and 1986, HP introduced the ThinkJet and LaserJet printers.
The leadership of David Packard and William Hewlett was instrumental to their company’s success and the innovations for the computing field as a whole that the company pawned. They each held various corporate positions as the company evolved. William Hewlett retired as vice chair of the board of directors in 1987. David Packard retired as chair of the board of directors in 1993. He had been either president, CEO, or chairman continuously since 1964, except for the period of 1969–1971, when he serviced as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense.
All of the computing industry and business organizations worldwide have directly benefited from the products and innovation introduced by the Hewlett-Packard Company. The introductions of the hand-held calculator and the LaserJet printer, alone, revolutionized computing and forever broadened opportunities for the universal reach of computing. A case can be made that these developments directly enabled much of the widespread rise of small software and applications firms.
David Packard and William Hewlett have received many awards and honors over their long careers, including The IEEE Founder’s Medal in 1973. That should not deter us from awarding the Computer Entrepreneur Award. This award is designed as a recognition of impact on the computer field in retrospect after 15 years. The work of Packard and Hewlett richly deserves additional recognition for its substantial impact.
The lifetime work of David Packard and William Hewlett is what the Computer Entrepreneur Award was designed to recognize.