Remembering Early Time at HP

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- Part 3 -

Some Legendary People of a People-Oriented Company


PART 3 - Table of Contents:




Some Legendary People of a People-Oriented Company


This chapter, for me, is the most interesting, because it is the main reason I wrote the book. It seems to me that as HP, and probably all companies grow large, the policies and procedures that must be implemented, to stay organized, begin to stifle creativity, and bog down the fine personal initiative of its people. Hiring becomes more "safe;" decisions become more conservative. People probably become more homogeneous.

I'm going to introduce you to some characters, who were far from homogeneous. Starting with Bill and Dave themselves, we will find a human side that cries out to be replicated in all our new people. I want all our new people to understand that they can break through the "safe" operating mode and use their creativity, challenge the bureaucratic processes, and keep the company loose and interesting and fun to work for.

You will see that most of these people are not the most "important" ones at HP, but they were surely some of the most interesting. Further, there were a lot of crucial contributors, I don't list, who were in other divisions or cities or countries, since I didn't have much interaction with them. There were hundreds of them. I have heard many interesting stories of other people, but I have tried to mostly only describe people and situations that I was close to, or at most second-hand. Other than Dave and Bill, these names are in no particular order of importance or age.


Bill Hewlett

Don't lock the lab-stock room

Bill was a tinkerer. He loved to spend his time in the Lab with Barney Oliver, after Barney returned from his work at Bell Labs in the 1950's. They were a perfect match, Barney with IQ of 180, and Hewlett with the technical curiosity of an Einstein, yet the business sense to see technology solutions and products.

It was not unusual to find Bill in the plant on weekends. Perhaps he was working on an antenna for the fly-in airstrip, on the ranch, he and Dave owned in South San Jose. On one weekend evening, he was working on a radio antenna, and needed some parts from Lab Stock. It was the late 1960's and division management was on a cost saving initiative, which came and went, in cycles. Some manager or bean-counter decided that open lab stock was a license to steal, so the lab stockroom door had a padlock on it, after working hours and weekends.

Bill called a guard to open the tool room door in the facilities department, to bring him a bolt cutter tool. He cut off the padlock, got his parts, and left a note on the stock room door to the effect, "Don't ever lock this door again," signed Bill Hewlett. Guess how many years that that note prevented lab stock doors from being locked? Such action gets around-everywhere!

Bill's attitude was that we hire expensive design engineers, to create new products. At the same time, many have hobbies, such as ham radio or audio system design, which teach them new design tricks, useful in their regular HP job. Bill was willing to accommodate the use of HP parts, from the lab stock, to assist the engineers in their off-duty hobbies.

Bill, the home handyman

Marc Saunders tells of the Saturday afternoon, when he was shopping at the Menlo Park, CA, Hardware. He noticed Bill Hewlett, by a counter of wood screws, introduced himself, since they had met at some management review. He asked if Bill were doing some home project for the day? Bill nodded yes, but in an impatient voice complained, "Isn't this ridiculous, I just need 3 wood screws, but the way these are packaged, I've got to buy 24 of them." This, at a time when Bill's wealth was about $1 billion.

Government work

Bill promulgated another informal process for engineers, called the G-Job, or "government work." The idea was that every engineer was to be allowed to spend up to 10% of their paid work time, on product concepts, that might result in a saleable product, not in the official plan. This was to include necessary model shop time for building materials, or purchased parts if needed.

Probably the biggest and best example of a G-job was Barney Oliver's exceptional audio amplifier for superior home stereo use. Barney's design for audio amplification had unbelievably low noise, hum and distortion, which I will not attempt to quote numbers for, since I never did understand audio amplification principles. A regular production run was created, orders were written for panels and pre-punched sheet metal, plus unloaded printed circuit boards. The whole assembly was packaged as a kit, which any employee could buy, and assemble themselves. I think it ran to a second production run too, because of the word of mouth.

Another under the table project resulted in an HP product, and one that was quite unique. Frank Waterfall, of the Crossley Associates sales office in Chicago, mentioned informally to Barney, probably over a drink, that what many circuit engineers really need on their bench, was a way to measure small dc currents going down a wire, without having to cut the wire, and alligator-clip it to a milliammeter. Barney put someone on the project, and came up with the HP 428A probing ammeter. One just opened the probe, which separated a magnetic circuit, and clamped it over the wire to measure current, a very convenient and popular instrument. The meter sensed the magnetic field caused by current in the wire, using a "flux-gate" principle.

This was just the time in history, when the banking industry was creating the magnetic ink characters on the bottom of regular checks. They did this so that high-speed, computerized machines could retrieve the bank number and bank account, plus the dollar amount, added with keystrokes, from the written check document. But a problem developed in the check printing companies, because the consistency of the magnetic ink printout was often inadequate, and the check numbers wouldn't read accurately on later processing. So one of the lab engineers, on his own time, took the clip-on probe, opened up the clamshells, and made a sensor which could detect the quality of the printed magnetic ink properties in the printing plant. It sold a large number, although it was later supplanted with simpler dynamic machines, which read numbers on the fly.

Buying the Reps.

An interesting education for me, was Bill's idea of personal and business relations. It happened in the early 60's, during the period when Tektronix fired of all their independent reps. For a time, before HP entered the scope business, many of our independent reps also handled Tektronix. When HP decided that they needed company-owned distribution, Bill and Dave made the decision to make offers to buy all of the U.S. rep companies.

So HP bought 11 of the 13 reps, instead of releasing them like Tek did. Two declined. Sometime after, I was talking informally with Bill at a management meeting at Rickey's in the mid-1960's. Although I thought I knew the answer, I asked him why HP had spent something like $10-15 million dollars for this move? I noted to Bill that Tektronix hadn't spent a penny, but simply released their reps, one at a time, over a couple of years, to smooth the transition, and set up their own company sales offices.

His answer was, "Goddammit, Minck, you just don't understand the situation. These reps are all personal friends. For a decade, we did business with them, on a handshake. We owe them most of our success, in building our industry and the company, and there was no way we were going to just fire them, one at a time." So there, John Minck! Bill and Dave regarded personal friendships with honor and integrity, and, not incidentally, backed it up with a lot of money.

Dad said it's OK

One evening, I was working late in Building 3, so it must have been in the early 1960's, and I guess it must have been about 10:00 pm. At the far end of the building, I could hear the old noisy 910 Xerox machine clacking away. I would get up from my desk, once in a while, to get a cup of coffee, and a young man was intent on building a rather large stack of copies. It grew in time to be at least several stacks, each a foot high. When I passed going to the restroom, I could see it was sheet music.

I finally put on my corporate hat, and approached him and said, "I'm sure the company doesn't mind people doing some personal copying, but don't you think this is going a little beyond that?" He replied, "I understand, but my dad said it would be OK." Although it was none of my business, I said, "And, who is your Dad?" "Bill Hewlett." Oh. OKaaayyy. I think it was son, Walter.

There is a followup to this story this year 2011. I had sent a letter to Walter Hewlett, to send along a written copy of the Tribute I wrote about his father, on the 10 th anniversary of Bill's death in 2001. Marc Mislanghe had asked me to write it for his HP Memories website because I knew Bill somewhat. So I also sent Walter that URL. He kindly answered my letter by telling me that he enjoyed reading several of the memoirs, and was finding that in his later years now, he was finding more appreciation of the work culture that his Dad was instrumental in creating.

In the same letter, he read about my anecdote in the Hewlett profile in my memoir, where I told of one of Hewlett's sons standing at the old Xerox in the 1970s for an hour, copying a high stack of sheet music. He admitted that it was him. And he remembered me coming along to ask him whether he had permission. It turned out that he was quite a musician in his Palo Alto High School days, and their music teacher was a renowned music expert, Julius Schucat, who had accumulated a large archive of sheet music for those years. Schucat had offered Walter the chance to copy a lot of it for his later use.

Employee benefits

Most of us have read of the many innovations that Bill and Dave instituted for their employees. In the early years, when one employee had a catastrophic medical episode, they realized that their company should provide for group medical benefits, long before American industry came to embrace such benefits.

But Bill was also observant about individual situations too. I was told about the early publications department, where Mary Hurt worked as a "repro-typist." Later, she and the other graphics people transferred into my Marketing Group in the Microwave Division. It seems that Mary's marriage was such that she was raising 3 or 4 kids all by herself, and this was causing serious time constraints on her being home to watch the kids and being at HP to do her graphics work. Bill found out about the situation, and told the managers to make whatever arrangements were necessary, so that Mary could work at home on her special company type-setter typewriter, until such time that the kids were old enough to help in the family's responsibilities. Mary never forgot that exceptional act of humanity, and told us about it until she died decades later of cancer.

Open door policy

Dave and Bill were well known for introducing two management processes, The HP Way and Management by Objective. But they also promulgated another process that was even more important in some ways, it was called the Open Door Policy. This simply stated that when there was an important matter that your own management wouldn't listen to or accept, you had a right to walk into any higher-level manager in the company to make your case. The door was open. Bill had a "feel" for what was right for common-sense management principles, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was the source of this idea.

In actuality, both Dave and Bill recognized that such a permissive policy might be abused by an endless complainer. So they specified that the employee had to first exhaust their appeals at the first and second level of management. This rather remarkable policy had two important effects; 1) It gave a sense of empowerment to each employee and made you feel like top management was with you, and 2) It proclaimed a not-so-subtle warning to mid-level managers that their actions were reviewable at the highest level.

Here is one specific example I am aware of. One of my friends had begun reporting to a new manager who had been hired in from Ampex Corporation, presumably for some of his tape recorder systems expertise. 1970 was not a good year for high-tech, HP fell into a bit of a recession, and the word came down from top management to trim 10% off operating costs.

My friend got called into his boss's office and was told that he was fired. That was the Ampex way of controlling costs, hire and fire as the profits allowed. This kind of employee treatment was unheard of at HP. Luckily my friend didn't take it lying down, but using HP's "Open Door" policy, he marched up to Bldg 3U, and told Bill what had happened. Bill rescinded the firing order on the spot. The word got back quickly to the Ampex guy's division manager, since it also appeared that my friend's performance reviews might have been doctored to justify the layoff. I think HE might have been the one let go. Soon after, this memo was sent to all HP management:

July 16, 1970

From: Bill Hewlett
To: See Distribution

SUBJECT: Evaluations & Terminations

An increasing number of cases are coming to my attention in which employees are being terminated with little or no warning that their performance has been unsatisfactory. In some cases, evaluations have been glowing up to the time that an individual is released.

There just is no excuse for this. It is not humane. It is not HP-like. It is not justified. I would like you to be guided by the four following points:

(1) The individual affected had had advance warning through written evaluations and has been advised constructively on how he/she should improve.

(2) Wherever practical, assure the employee is given an opportunity for other placement where he/she might make a greater contribution. Employee placement is a function of supervisors and Personnel and not a function of the employee to be turned loose to find his own job someplace in HP.

(3) If termination is the only alternative. Personnel must be fully advised and believe the case is satisfactorily documented, and the decision has the approval of the general manager concerned.

(4) Before any adverse action is taken, it should be well thought out. We must recognize that each of our people represents an individual with problems, families, etc.

Signed: Bill H.
WRH: dlt


The 9-day fortnight

That 1970's business recession was also the time that Bill came up with his famous plan to deal with lowered revenues and production overcapacity. It was what John Doyle termed the 9-day fortnight. Hewlett reasoned that the nation's business would turn up in a year or so, and that HP could not afford to lose creative people, skilled production staff, and loyal employees who weren't themselves responsible for the downturn in business.

Hewlett observed that, "Usually in business, it is the little guy on the line who takes it in the chin, while management and higher-ups stay at work. It is only right that everyone share in the pain, up and down the line." He insisted that all employees take off every other Friday without pay, and this action was widely praised, not just within our employee ranks but got national publicity as a way to deal with downturns.

It was interesting that this was the recession period when Dave Packard was off in the Pentagon as Deputy Secretary of Defense. Hewlett made this important decision on his own, in conjunction with Noel Eldred and Ralph Lee whom he had brought into a corporate office triumvirate. The employee loyalty that resulted from this common sense plan was wonderful to see. Many employees actually came in to work on those Fridays, even though the production lines were shut down. Sales forces, of course, maintained their full schedule since increasing sales was the main point to get back to full employment. Factory marketing ran with skeleton staffs. In about one year, sales picked up and we all went back to work.

Fortuitously, the HP-35 hand calculator was introduced in 1972, and with its huge profitability, it single-handedly pulled the company out of trouble more quickly than the basic business recovery.

Finally, it is almost never mentioned that Bill Hewlett, in spite of his love of the technical side of HP, took over as CEO and Chairman of HP in 1969, when Dave Packard was appointed to Deputy Secretary of Defense, at the Pentagon. Bill formed an executive committee, consisting of himself, Noel Eldred and Ralph Lee (Porter had died), and grew the company from $326 to over $479 million. This was an average of HP's usual 15% per year, for those 3.5 years, without the benefit of Dave's presence, and in the face of a persistent business recession.

Hewlett's HP 120B gift

This story came to me in 2009, when Ken Chalfant of Colorado Springs, CO, contacted Ken Kuhn in Birmingham, AL, to find if he might have a spare HP 120B scope bezel. Ken Kuhn's name comes up in this Narrative several times, because he is a big HP booster, and further, maintains a basement and garage full of more than 400 vintage HP instruments. And he never worked for HP. He passed along Chalfant's charming interaction with Bill Hewlett.

Bills' gift to a teenager

Chalfant reminisces: "My story regarding Hewlett Packard starts in 1967 when I was a junior high school student (age 13). I was already totally focused on electronics, owned an EICO VTVM and was trying to save up money to by a kit form oscilloscope from HeathKit when my science class went on a tour of the local HP plant here in Colorado Springs, CO.

Wall to wall, as far as I could see was test equipment and oscilloscopes so far beyond fantastic that I probably almost had a seizure! When I got home I called out to the plant and asked if they had any used scopes for sale. "We don't sell our used equipment." came the answer. "How much is your least expensive scope in kit form?" I asked. "We put all our equipment together - we don't offer kit form." was the reply, followed by "Would you like a catalog?"

My mom took me out to the plant and I met the local marketing manager that I had talked to on the telephone and he gave me a copy of their catalog. OH MY! What a catalog! It was nearly an inch thick of glossy pages stitch hard-bound into a beautiful book. I took it everywhere and wore it out! It was not only filled with their equipment, but a great deal of information on how their equipment worked and how to apply it. That catalog was my first electronics instrumentation text book. I still have that exact copy and I have also bought a pristine copy for my library.

Well I wasn't finished - I was not ready to give up on getting an HP scope so I wrote Mr. Hewlett a letter and asked him if I could buy a used one. Well to keep a long story somewhat shorter - Mr. Hewlett gave me a 120B scope!

Now an engineer and a customer

Forty years - to the month - later - Agilent rediscovered the story of what Mr. Hewlett had done for me and they invited me out to the Colorado factory as a guest speaker to talk about Mr. Hewlett and the "good old" HP days - even though I have never worked for HP. Then they did it again - they gave me another scope.

Its amazing that a man I never met and a company I never worked for have had such a profound and positive impact on my life! Mr. Hewlett, followed by several engineers at the Colorado Springs plant, helped me so much when I was just a kid! Then after telling "my" story and helping them remember how fantastic Mr. Hewlett and HP really were they basically "framed" my life by giving me another scope.

Of course, I'm completely biased, but I doubt there will ever be two more significant and honorable business people then Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard. I don't think anyone will ever build a company that will contribute as much in technical terms and so much more in human terms than did Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard. Agilent still makes fantastic equipment and there are many wonderful, caring, involved people working there, but Agilent is not - and never will be - Hewlett Packard."


Dave Packard

Dave was well-known for being the "business-oriented" partner, while Bill assumed the more technical role. With his 6-4 stature, and Stanford football player physique, he always dominated any meeting or gathering, whether a speech to the investment analysts on Wall Street, or while standing at the coffee pot. Most everyone is familiar with his management style, as described in his book, The HP Way. I wanted to mention several specific interactions I had with him, personally, and which will help you understand the humanity of the man.

Chinese engineers

After President Richard Nixon "opened up" the People's Republic of China, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard both visited China in the several years thereafter. During Packard's visit, he met with the Fourth Minister of Machine Building, which was similar to the Russian organizational hierarchy. The Fourth Minister was the national official responsible for all electronic and communications activities in their country.

The technology situation in the PRC was serious, because the previous "Cultural Revolution," permitted by Chairman Mao, had decimated their academic and technical community. It had resulted in 2-3 million deaths in the purge of intellectuals. By the time Packard visited, the country was trying desperately to rebuild their technical infrastructure, a monumental effort. As a result, Packard agreed to host 20 young engineers at HP for one year, to have them work alongside our production people, to gain a knowledge of current state-of-the-art electronics production. Dave's objective was clearly to plant our HP flag in China for future business opportunities.

Packard called V.P. Bill Terry, to tell him to arrange things. Bill appointed me as the Test & Measurement Organization host, to be ready to host 8 of the 20 engineers. So I set up the planning for those engineers to go through some initial measurements training, and then prepared the one-year "dance card" with schedules of each engineer for their year here. This plan would take them through the many different production functions, printed circuit production, production control, fabrication, etc, for a full year.

Since I had been given virtually zero detail, I called Dave to ask if I could come over and review the plan. In his office, after he had taken a few minutes to read the summary, I asked if it looked all right to him, based on his understanding with the Fourth Minister? He looked at me, with a sheepish smile and said, "You know, John, the night I arranged this plan with the Fourth Minister, we were at a long ceremonial dinner, and frankly, we had had quite a few toasts, and a lot to drink. So the specific issues of the engineer visitors are not real clear to me today. However, this looks like a fine plan. Go with it." To me, this confirmed the total honesty of the man.

A funny incident happened when the Chinese engineers arrived about a year later. Our first formal process was a 12-week measurement training course, to acquaint them with HP's products and services. Actually it was the same measurement training course which was given to all new HP field sales engineers. It was about Christmas time, and the training was taking place in Bldg 18, at the corner of Page Mill Rd and Foothill Expressway, in a building shared with the HP TV studio.

Since the Chinese group was about 20, we set up a special class for them alone. I was observing the training orientation, when suddenly I was called out of the room, to face several U.S. Secret Service agents. It seems that U.S. Secretary of State, George Schultz, who had his home on the Stanford University grounds, was home for the holidays. He decided that morning to visit his son, who happened to work at the HP TV studio in the same building. When the Secret Service heard, during their quiet visit, that there were "Red Communist" Chinese personnel on the same site, I guess they really spooked out.

They had gone into a protective mode for Schultz, then told me that everyone in the room would have to remain there for an hour. I had the temerity to ask if we could first offer the students the chance to go to the bathroom, and they relented. But I could never tell those students just what happened.

I was profoundly impressed with those young Chinese engineers. Since they had been selected by a nationwide process, they were given the travelling status of "Diplomat." This was not a trivial distinction, since their ordinary in-country monthly wage was $30 U.S. HP had agreed to pay them a salary of $1500 per month, which was our going rate for new-hire engineers, and under their country's diplomat provision, they were permitted to keep it all. We organized a housing program, whereby they lived, two to a room, at the Flamingo Motel, on El Camino, where our visiting FEs normally stayed. We also bought them all bicycles to get to work on the hill.

Imagine my surprise, a month later, when I visited their motel, and found out that most of them had moved out, and found other less-expensive apartments, and now were living 6 to an apartment. They were serious about saving money. But it is what they did with the saved money that impressed me.

Since most of them had been voted in by their local factory personnel council, they felt a true obligation to their factory. For example, as they learned about our HP environment testing program, they began to request for me to order them temperature testing equipment and systems, from various sales catalogs. By that time, HP's pre-production testing had revealed that every product, ready for production, would get a full series of high temperature tests. To assure that their factories would have the latest in test procedures, they bought the same temperature-logging gear HP used.

They also bought numerous TV sets, calculators and personal computers, all of which were going to go back, to be shared with the people in their factories. On one occasion, I used an HP truck to carry all their boxes to the Port of Oakland, to load into a transport container. I think there were 150 boxes, all of which had to have customs documentation, and shipping arrangements. Our shipping people were of great assistance, in guiding them on the least expensive mode.

The specific State Department program authorization we worked under was unusual. The project fell under the U.S. Technology Transfer laws, with some REALLY serious penalties hanging over any mistakes. The paperwork we furnished to get approval for the year-long program, also was interesting. These alien engineers were allowed to work anywhere in our shops, read any documentation, actually order instruction manuals for HP equipment, and other printed industrial materials, commercially available. But the one thing they could NOT do, was to talk personally with any of our R&D engineers. It seemed a quaint rule, regarding the nation's technology transfer restrictions. Further, we had an intensive briefing with the FBI, so that we knew exactly what to do in case any one engineer asked for political asylum. Not one of the 20 ever did.

As it developed, it was a very successful program, and in later years, I heard from more than one of our HP sales people in China, that several of the early trainees had asked about me, and were ordering HP products. I believe that several actually came to work for HP China in later years, and certainly they all became good HP equipment customers.

George Stanley was closely involved in the HP entry back into the People's Republic of China, and relates his remembrances: "Bob Brunner always like to travel to unusual places. So right after Nixon opened up China, Bob was about the first person to figure a way to go there. While in China, he looked up an old college classmate, who was fairly high up in the Chinese government and asked him, "How would China like to have a team of HP engineers come to China and teach you the latest in western measurement techniques."

"The Chinese manager jumped at the chance. Bob had cleared this with H and P and Doolittle before he left. When Bob came back he asked me to put together the technical program. Lee Ting handled the political/business coordination, and the team consisted of Art Fong, Dave Widman, two guys from Ft. Collins, and Bob Frankenberg from the computer side. I think there were a few others."

"I had Don Hawke organize and ship all the equipment. We worked closely with the U.S. State Department. We were in China for four weeks in June of 1979. The first week was used to unpack the equipment, set up and work with our translators. A month before leaving the U.S. we had to send the complete text of our technical talks. I had HP-IB for four days, but remember this is two days of material because of the translations."

"All in all there were probably about 150 Chinese who attended. my class was led by a Red Guard radical who marched his class in, told them to sit, told me to start, and would stop me periodically and say, 'we take break now.' He would march the class out and back, etc"

"We found out that we could take our wives if we paid the air fare. The hotel costs were the same for two as for one so all brought their wives and that sets up a story. The Chinese set up daily tours for the wives with special guides... no charge. The reason was because the guides were all top Chinese Government translators who wanted to polish up their English. One day my wife was asked, "what does, 'in the same ballpark mean?'"

"We were in the Machine Pak building over near the Zoo, but stayed in the Grand Hotel near the Forbidden City. Engineers came from all over China by train and for some it was a two-day trip. Only one came by plane, and he was a EE Prof. from SW China. I got to know him fairly well as later he came to the U.S. on a trip."

"We always had handlers and were escorted everywhere even after the formal session ended. We were allowed to visit other cities in China, but we would be taken to the plane and then met at the next stop. We worked our way south, eventually exiting into Hong Kong."

"Brunner told me my second objective was to get the name/address of every engineer who attended so we could put them on the HP Journal mailing list. I did. There were many interesting events. One was the whole country was studying English. There were two radio programs: The Chinese ran one and the Voice of America ran the other one. Being white, we stood out so we were often approached to correct their English homework."

"The EE Prof once told me people used to study Russian but everyone had given that up and were now all doing English. The VOA broadcast in 'Special English', which was a printed list of about 500 words that were spoken extra slowly. I tried to get the list of Special English words to give to the Divisions to use when giving seminars abroad, but VOA told me I would have to have someone outside the U.S. order it. I didn't follow up."

"John Young managed to show up at the very end as he came over from a meeting in Malaysia. There were nightly dinners with the Chinese and they always tried to get us drunk with their clear fire-water. Somehow we all survived even though we had to rewire the Machine Pak Building to get enough power to run our equipment."

"As a result of our visit the Chinese published the HP-IB info and a test I used in a technical journal. This was in Chinese and I used it (in Chinese) when I gave the Chinese engineers of the Packard invitation their final exam. I think they were surprised that part of their exam was in Chinese. All this led to a Chinese invitation to H and P to visit China and you know the rest."

By the way, Packard resigned from his Pentagon job well before the Watergate political scandal broke under Nixon. In a real ironic twist of fate, Packard and his wife lived at the Watergate complex during his tour at the Pentagon. One wonders if he somehow had found out about the bad things going on across the Potomac? It was also at approximately that time, that John Young began his long rise to fame, and moved up to Electronic Group V.P., from his leadership of the Microwave Division.

"We'll find someone who can."

At one of the 1960's management reviews at Rickey's Hyatt House in Palo Alto, it had been a long day of presentations. I happened upon Dave, standing at the bar, for the usual after-meeting libation. He would usually ask how one's work was going, as a sort of generic comment.

As it happened, about two days before, I had had to tell a long-term microwave application engineer, who reported to me, that his work was not adequate. This was even after we had informed him of the inadequacy and worked with him for a full year to solve his problem. I mentioned to Dave that the act of actually telling an employee, that he would have to leave HP, was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do.

Now, all of us employees had an overall impression of Dave Packard as a "tough-minded" manager, because we had all heard of his statement, "If you can't do the job, we'll find someone who can." So I figured with my story, he would probably understand my personal distress. He surprised me with his response, "Well, John, it may interest you to know that I have only personally fired 2 employees in my time. And those events were two of the hardest things I have done, too." That comment only increased my admiration for the human Dave Packard. I inferred afterward, that he probably just told others to tell people they had to go.

Viet Nam

In 1969, Packard was recruited by Melvin Laird, who was the political transition manager, tasked to find high level appointees to the Nixon administration. Laird himself was appointed to be Secretary of Defense. Packard agreed to become Deputy Secretary of Defense, as long as Mr. Laird agreed to be the "Mr. Outside, who would deal with Congress and the public. Dave would be "Mr. Inside," and would deal with operations and procurement. As he told his employees, he had always felt that he owed his country some national service time, because he stayed and managed HP on the home front during WWII, while Bill served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

During the years Dave was running the inside operations of the Pentagon, we would often have military visitors who were coming to HP for contract negotiations. They told impressive stories of Dave's pragmatism, in managing a huge agency and huge procurement budget amounts. Packard was responsible for the Pentagon's "Fly before Buy" contracting concept, which he introduced to avoid the excessive budget overruns. These were caused in previous administrations, by going into production before a weapons system had all the operational and technical kinks worked out.

In the late 1970's, one of our newly-recruited field engineers (Jim) told me of an interaction he had had with Dave Packard in Vietnam. He was a young fighter pilot, and USAF Captain, during an inspection trip Packard was making to the military bases there. Packard had specifically asked the military commander to bring about 25 of the pilots who were carrying out the missions into a conference room. So Jim and the others were there in the conference room, sitting at attention, while around the walls were several dozen higher-ranking brass.

As Packard came in, he noticed the large array of colonels and other high ranks, and asked, "I thought I was quite specific, that I only wanted to talk with the men doing the flying." One ranking officer noted that they felt that it was important for them to attend, because then they would know what issues to take seriously. Dave reiterated that he was serious in his request, and that all of them should leave, which they did, a little humiliated in front of their troops.

Dave then took off his suit coat, rolled up his long-sleeved white shirt, and draped himself on a chair. He proceeded to spend about 2 hours in the meeting, getting to understand the true tactical situation. It was the HP "open door" policy, sort of in reverse. Jim decided that day, that if he survived, he would do all he could to work for HP in the future, and later he did join the HP field sales force.

Packard in Washington

Dick Rucker recalls that he and his wife Claudia ran into Packard one early Sunday morning at the National Zoo in Washington. Dave was scheduled to appear before a Congressional hearing on his upcoming Pentagon appointment on Monday, and he was there, "apparently, just to relax and gather his thoughts."

"We ran into him in the large bird aviary -- it is a large screened-in area but otherwise open to the elements, and it was home to a California condor, a couple of American Eagles, and a few other large birds. He was standing there, with his hands in his pockets, looking up, admiring one of them."

"I walked over and introduced Claudia and myself, and told him we were both former HP employees who had met and married while there. He chatted with us for a few minutes, then we wished him well, and left him alone with his thoughts." "My particular memory is of him standing there, looking up, just as I realized who this tall, very distinguished man, was. It was a gray day, with only the three of us in the aviary, along with those big birds, very quiet and peaceful."

Moving garages

After Bldg 20 was built on the Hanover/ Page Mill Rd. site, and before the Addison garage was pronounced a California Historical Site, I wrote a short proposal to Dave, to combine some historic buildings. I proposed that HP move the first Addison garage, plus the second garage home of HP, behind the "Tinkerbell" Polly and Jake's Antique Store at El Camino and Page Mill Rd, plus the old Quonset Hut, WWII building at Page Mill and Birch, all over to the back lot of the Bldg 20 site.

My thought was that one of those buildings could serve as an archive and museum, for visitors to HP headquarters for decades to come. Packard called me over and told me that it was an interesting proposal, and that he would not oppose it if I wished to raise money to do it. But he said that he was totally uninterested in preserving all those old things.

I abandoned the effort, although I think I could have found enough money among some of Dave's contemporary middle managers, who had become fairly wealthy on HP stock options. I knew that some of them were more nostalgic about those buildings, since many of them had worked in them.

The Aquarium

Sometime after the Monterey Bay Aquarium was finished, using funding from the Dave and Lucile Packard Foundation, I happened to be sitting across from Dave, at some sort of company management affair dinner. It was an informal event as most were. The aquarium project had been reported to have run $10 million over the original $35 million budget, and I couldn't resist tweaking Dave about it. He was always pretty hard on us, if our company projects couldn't stay within budget.

He smiled and actually looked a little embarrassed, if that was possible. He said, "Well, you know, John, we actually expected to run over, because we knew we were attempting things there that had never been done before." He mentioned the wave machine operation, the huge fiberglass mammal figures on the ceiling, and the serious technical considerations over those huge tanks and acrylic windows.

We all loved that man for his humanity, and much of it is preserved in that great aquarium institution, funded by Lucile and Dave, although almost none of the visitors ever knew him as a person. I have noticed as I walk through the aquarium, that his daughter, Julie, has done a superior job, enlisting hundreds of other contributors, in the years since, and carrying on that grand training site. Almost every day, it is filled with hundreds of kids and ordinary people, learning about our great oceans and the preservation of natural things. Dave had established an alternate home there in Monterey during those years of construction of the aquarium, and after it started in a hugely successful operation. It must have given him and Lucile great pleasure to see how ordinary people enjoyed that impressive facility of ocean science, and unique teaching resource.

Marketing interns

Packard was known for only a few impetuous actions. On one occasion, when he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Stanford, he decided to take on two Stanford interns, one each summer. Both were "thought leaders," and editors of the Stanford Daily newspaper. He had them report to John Young, and in turn, to me in the marketing department. Their names were Kirk Hanson and Phil Taubman. They were bright and energetic young MBAs, and I set up some summer projects for them to evaluate a number of different processes in our marketing department. I also had one of them do a survey of work attitudes of my department in some detail. This was the first time I recall, that we used summer interns.

I found it interesting to follow the careers of those young men. Kirk Hanson came back to teach at the Stanford Business School after graduate work at Harvard Divinity, and for several decades taught business ethics. He recently moved to Santa Clara University, to run a new ethics department. He has considerable work going on now, what with the Enron scandal, and the serious condition of U.S. corporate governance. Phil Taubman went to Time Magazine, and became a senior editor, with a number of journalism awards to his credit. In a later interview, Hanson gave great credit to our summer employment job.

Another intern HP took on, after Packard returned from the Pentagon, was a young U.S. career service manager at a GS14 level, about mid-management in government ranking. Packard's plan was to have fledgling government managers spend 3-4 months at HP, learning the private sector methods and process measures, and bring them back to the Pentagon. I don't remember his name, from his project work at SPD, but I did remember his voice.

About a year later, I was on a business trip to Washington for other reasons, and on a spare afternoon, called Bill, an old USAF navigation school classmate of mine, who was assigned at the Pentagon. Bill was a Bird (full) Colonel, on the 5 th (USAF) floor. For reference, in my navigation cadet days in Texas, a Bird Colonel ran the entire base of 5000 men, but at the Pentagon, Bird Colonels were a dime a dozen. Bill was in a crowded office of about ten, 1-star Generals. If you were a 1-star, you got a desk and a filing cabinet AND table. Colonels didn't get the table. Anyway, as we were talking, I heard a familiar voice at their Xerox machine, and amazingly, it was the Packard intern I had met at HP. He just happened to come down the hall, because his own department's Xerox was broken down that day. Imagine that coincidence in a Pentagon with 25,000 employees!

Loyalty to old friends

Another occasion I am familiar with, was when Art Fong's wife, Mary, came down with a brain tumor, which required a serious operation. The operation was successful, but her rehab was long and frustrating. After she got back on her feet, it was either Dave or Bill who was talking to Art about Mary's recovery, and told Art to take Mary on a round-the-world trip, at company time and expense, to reward him for exceptional creativity. At one time, we, in Microwave Marketing had added up the estimated revenues of all the popular instrument projects that Art had managed. It came out to more than $200 million dollars. I think our calculation was made in 1980. This included the HP 8551A, 606A, 618A, 623A, 803A/417A, 614A and many others. An unusually-productive career.


Noel Porter

In the late 1950's, Noel, the son of a Palo Alto minister, was the HP manufacturing manager. He was also the two-term mayor of Palo Alto, all at the same time. In his own way, he was a genius in being able to juggle these difficult jobs together. He would spend the mornings at HP, running the plant. He went to city hall for the afternoons. Evenings, he would return to the plant, reading memos, and typing small 3 x 5 "Portergrams" to everyone that needed jogging, using his two-finger typing method.

Noel Porter was a very popular figure on the production lines. Probably more than anyone else, he practiced what was to become "management by wandering around," later termed MBWA, in Business School case studies. The term was probably coined by John Doyle, the first Manufacturing Manager of the Microwave Division, and before it was recognized as a highly-useful management technique. Certainly Porter was popular with the assembly force, and all knew him personally.

My personal interactions with Porter were minimal. But in the 60's my family began an annual summer vacation ritual with a week at Meek's Bay Resort on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. It seems that the Porter family had owned a shore-side home up near Tahoe City for several generations, and opened the estate to the HP sailing club for a couple days of regatta, about that time in the summer. Although we weren't sailors, our family was invited up to enjoy the day on shore, with the generous and warm welcome of Noel and his wife.


Barney Oliver

My very first contact with Barney was described earlier in my HP job interview. Barney was an intellect in the genius range, with a purported IQ of 180. He was a classmate of Dave and Bill at Stanford, got his MS and PhD at Cal Tech and then went to work at the highest-prestige research lab of the world, Bell Telephone Labs (BTL) at Murray Hill, NJ. His work in WWII involved radar and other sophisticated system design, where his intellect made many technology contributions. Barney coined the word, "chirp radar," for its characteristics of a sweeping frequency, during the on pulse, which, in audio terms, would logically have sounded like a chirp.

Later, in 1959, when I used to make some sales calls at BTL with Bob MacVeety, our New Jersey Rep, I asked some senior engineers about their remembrances of Barney. It turns out that there were three certified geniuses at BTL at the same time, Claude Shannon of information theory fame, John Pierce, of communication satellite and traveling wave amplifier fame, and Barney. Apparently the three of those people were intellectually INSUFFERABLE. They were so bright and capable, and they cut an intellectual swath through that engineering community, that only a prestige lab like BTL could handle all three at once. I read about April 1, 2002, that John Pierce had just died at Stanford.

Barney was notorious for stress technical interviews with new lab candidates. I just got a small taste of that, before he turned me over to marketing. But it also carried over to his other activities too. He did not suffer fools lightly. In one conference room forum, one engineer's question from the floor, was answered with, "That was a stupid question! Next question." Needless to say even his own people were cautious around him.

Eclectic interests

Barney was a man with eclectic interests. His interests in the search for other intelligent life in the universe is well known. He was an early supporter for SETE, the impressive and sophisticated listening system, headquartered at the NASA research headquarters in Mountain View, CA, and with huge desert antenna farms in southern California. Barney had an interesting theory about other intelligent beings. He postulated that a planetary civilization might grow from an evolutionary process much like our own, leading to superior beings and equipment on some other planet.

He had actually worked out the probabilities of how many thousands of earth-like bodies, there might be in the cosmos, that were capable of supporting life. But he also felt that most such highly technical civilizations would die out within a thousand years or so. This led to the conclusion, that if there were some such intelligent civilizations, trying to communicate or transmit signals, if it took a million years to develop and die, that the probability that any two such would exist at just the same time they could transmit or receive, would be very low. Yet, the probability was not zero, and thus the Project SETE made some technology sense.

Barney also had a conservation side. I recall a monograph he wrote, about conservation of resources. He pointed out that of all the material goods we consume, we do an absolutely terrible job of recycling. He noted that atoms don't wear out, they just get misplaced. We start with a high grade ore in a mountain of iron ore, refine it, fabricate it, use it, and throw it into a dump ground where it is mixed up and lost to future generations.

I also recall an interesting observation he made, when laser technology was first invented. At the time, AT&T was postulating that they could build a 2-foot diameter pipe, which would stretch across the country, and be evacuated to a vacuum. By using large lenses periodically, they could re-collimate the laser light over the continental distance. Then, modulating with high speed digital data, they could replace their cross-country TH-microwave communications backbone, and their underground cable multiplex L-systems. Barney calculated that if you took laser light, and modulated it to only 1% bandwidth, you could modulate on one beam, all the conversations of the world. At that time, the world population was 4 billion people, but he then corrected himself to note that it was really 2 billion conversations, because half the world's people would be at each end.

In his later years, Barney helped found or served as technical advisor for a number of companies. One of these, was a company which grew and sold nematodes. He took great joy, in explaining that there were 500,000 species of nematodes in the world, and if you could find the right ones, and grew them, they would do wonderful things. His company, for example, found a certain strain, which ate corn-borers, the nasty little bug which could destroy a whole corn field by weakening the roots, after which the stalks fell down. His nematodes would multiply by eating the corn borer, and then when that food supply dried up, the nematodes also would die. A perfect silver-bullet pest-fighter, which was not toxic. He also noted that this was the only product he knew of, where the supplier furnished a microscope with each shipment, because the product was so tiny, you couldn't see it with the naked eye.

I happened to be in his group at the cafeteria lunch one day, with several of his top scientists from HP Labs. The sunspot cycle was just peaking, and one result was the disruption of the communications systems, due to the earth's ionospheric layer getting demolished by particles from the sun. One of the other serious effects, which almost no one knew about, was the vulnerability of the nation's electric power grid, to these same infusions of particles. The electric power grid of the U.S. is a delicately balanced and interconnected system, which allows power to flow from places of excess, like Oregon's Bonneville Dam, to California. It also supplies power in cases of emergency shutdown of major local generation facilities.

But the interconnection itself is also the key to making the system unstable. With high tension lines thousands of miles long, their characteristic of catching the effects of the sun's particles, makes the system unstable. As Barney and the others discussed the solution, which had already been the subject of many industry research projects, it was noted that with these power levels, one couldn't just "ground" things like in the lab, with a grounding strap. Barney suddenly proclaimed that some sort of rotating machine, which normally acted as a electric generator, could be modified to act as a floating ground, and the others agreed. I, of course,was way over my head, as usual in discussions with Barney.

Along in his career, Barney ran for the Palo Alto Unified School Board, and won a seat, and soon was Chairman. I don't recall if he was urged to get in some community service, perhaps by Mayor Noel Porter, or later when Packard had served his several terms as Chairman of the School Board.

Dealing with the public was probably not his finest hour, either. And Palo Alto, being a city with a major content of eggheads, college grads, included a high percentage of Stanford grads who didn't want to move away from the womb, etc (like me, I admit.). So he took some hard knocks in his early years on the board, but slowly the rough edges were rounded off, and he became a well-liked public servant.

The BART Technical Commission

Barney's technical expertise was well known to the high-tech community. When the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system started construction in 1964, in one of their early rolling tests, one of the test trains approached the Fremont, end-of-the-line, station. Instead of slowing down, the train plowed into a pile of sand that some cautious engineer had insisted on providing instead of a hard bumper. Luckily the train was only traveling at about 25 mph, with no passengers.

One of our HP corporate managers, Jack Beckett, had been involved in industrial volunteering for some years, and at the time was Chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Commission for the Bay Area. Their responsibilities included oversight responsibility for BART, and such a serious operating computer failure was potentially catastrophic. It was crucial that the deficiency of the train control system be immediately investigated, so that the rollout of the system could proceed without concern about defective control.

The design for the BART was visionary, with the committee focusing on high tech cars and control technology. In retrospect, it was probably not a good decision, and the committee would have done well to visit Europe where they had for decades built and operated rugged and reliable cars and control systems that were designed for fail-safe performance. Westinghouse was the main contractor chosen for their futuristic control proposal. But there were to be revealed a number of black-holes in their design.

Beckett immediately got his Board to appoint a technical study commission, chaired by Barney. What they found was troubling. The objective of the original proposal was to have a system of trains running at up to 90 mph with a 3-5 minute headway (4.5-7.5 miles) between them---without human operators. Geez, there is a design just begging for fatalities. The train control consisted of a radio link between the speeding train and an endless antenna running alongside the tracks. The braking system of every train was controlled by an automated built-in stopping profile determined by the wayside electronic signaling system based on the distance ahead of another train. This "local" train control was augmented by the central computer system (big-daddy) in Oakland.

Dave Cochran later filled me in on some of the project details. On the day of the "crash," the car detected its approach to Fremont station, and sent its signal to the speed control system in the train to call for the beginning of brake action. However the 27 mph crystal had shorted and the speed control system went to a free running oscillator that happened to call for 70 mph. The system had not been designed "fail-safe," i.e. to stop if the correct speed could not be attained. The on-board human operator operated the emergency brake, but the few-second hesitation was enough for the train to over-run the station.

The upshot of that revelation resulted in a scathing letter that Barney wrote to the CEO of Westinghouse. In essence, Barney accused the company of dereliction of engineering responsibility and suggested that they must have assigned their poorest engineers to the tasks. Redesign took place immediately. I believe that was the year that Barney had been elected to the presidency of the IEEE, the international society of professional engineers. So his words had extra impact on Westinghouse.

Another system design flaw was discovered in a "phantom" train problem. It seems that Westinghouse did not use the decades-old design practice of train detection, as practiced in Europe. Instead because of the continuous welded rail to eliminate the clickity-clack, they had to design a monitor which measures the electrical impedance between the two rails by the steel wheels of the car touching both rails. The problem is that Westinghouse didn't count on the nasty environment of the rails, oil, dirt, corrosion and water that meant that the impedance changes weren't sensed correctly.

The urgency of a fix was paramount, since the system was close to coming on line. The upshot to the Oliver study was to quickly design an alternate system to ensure continuous detection. In the interim, human operators at each station would provide input (they would call the up-line station and tell them to release the train) so that the main system operating displays were assured. For a time, a given train could not get a command to leave a given station if an operator at an advanced station had not given proof that the previous train had left a future station.

Out of the Oliver commission came a "Logic Back-up Train Detection System" based on the fact that trains cannot appear or disappear from the track. A simple wayside logic system with each block (minimum detectable length) contains the presence of a train once detected. It cannot be dropped until detection is registered in the successive block. The wayside system daisy chains this all together. If movement of the train is not detected in the next block, the stopping profile remains behind in the original block.

This concept was designed by Len Cutler and Dave Cochran solicited by Barney for his commission, a patent was received for the idea with BART granted a royalty free license.

The final upshot of the Oliver Commission was that BART service came up on time, ran for some years with the duplicate control systems and human operators giving individual approval for a train to leave particular stations based on a prior train being seen leaving a station further along, making the tracks clear. During that period, major redesign took place in the entire system control computers, sensors, with the "Logic Back-up System" integrated in a fail safe manner into the central computers. Now, 30 years later, the BART operation has been remarkably free of dangerous crashes and failures, never has one train hit another.

Mount Umunhum?

When Barney's R&D lab was located in Bldg 1U, newly-hired lab engineers would often find some unexpected results on their oscilloscope displays when probing their circuit waveforms. It was sort of a ritual of passage, because their senior engineer associates would usually keep quiet about the effect.

If all the conditions were right, what the engineers would see was that their expected waveforms would be OK, but every so often the circuit would go wild with large repetitive pulses ruining what they thought was their prize stable circuit. It wouldn't happen regularly, and the period of occurrence was about every 9 seconds. But a circuit that runs wild is not an acceptable one, and the phenomenon would sometimes drive the poor engineer crazy trying to figure what was going wrong. About that time, the seniors would charitably explain what was happening.

The south-looking glass windows of Bldg 1 faced almost directly south to Mount Umunhum, 25 miles away. A very long-range USAF sea-search radar was located on the top of the mountain, and its antenna rotation period was just 9 seconds. When the location of probing wires and the circuit was just right, the high power radar pulses could be acquired by the loops of wires, and presented on the scope display. Even though the frequency of the microwave signal was well above the video scope display, the radar signal was strong enough to overload the front end, high sensitivity amplifier and would self-detect to provide a video-like pulse.

It had another effect as well. When Barney had come back from Bell Labs to HP, he brought with him a profound affinity for high quality audio. In those years, HP used a plant-wide paging system, with speakers in all buildings. Although it was good quality audio, it was not up to the standards of Barney's quality ear. So he undertook to re-design the power amplifiers with exceedingly low distortion and hum and all those bad audio signal things.

The paging telephone operators were located in their switchboard room at the inner corner of Bldg 1 and 3. They, too, were exposed to the Mount Umunhum radar illumination signals, and you guessed it. Sometime after the new audio amplifiers were installed, again when all the conditions were right, one of the operators voice cables served as an antenna, and fed the repetitive pulses into the audio amplifier. In this case, when the system was keyed, a loud buuuurrrrrpppp sound occurred. Each time that operator keyed for a page, it burped.

Barney called out a couple of his engineer crew with audio credentials to look for the problem, because it sounded like an uncommon defect in audio amplifiers, called motorboating. Could Barney's magnificent amplifier be a victim of that serious defect? You can also imagine that looking for this intermittent effect was pretty discouraging for a time, but they soon figured it out. And with a few simple input circuit modifications, any voice cable position was soon insensitive to the effect.


Ralph Lee

Ralph Lee treated the spending of HP's money like his very own. A manufacturing manager in the mid-1960's, he was known for his frugal control of budgets, yet creative manufacturing skills. Later, as he became Group Manager and Executive VP, he became better known as the office partition fighter. As HP's divisions moved to outlying cities, the traditional HP "bull-pen" style of large, open bays of desks and engineer benches would give way to wall partitions, as the local management moved to be more like other companies. More than once, on a Ralph Lee visit, he would call in the local facilities people, and order them to begin dismantling the offending partitions and private offices on the spot. Word got around.

Yet, Ralph's parsimony was itself balanced off on occasion. At a Monterey Management Conference I attended, Ralph used part of his manufacturing overview to present a slide showing that inventory control of hand tools was failing. He put up a slide, which showed that HP had purchased about twice as many sets of hand tools, as we had hired new technical people, and that it amounted to maybe $60,000 per year.

Bill Hewlett was sitting in the front row, and suddenly stopped the presentation with the question, "Hold it right there, Ralph. What's your point?" Ralph then pointed out that it looked as if many of the newly-hired engineers were stocking up their home workbench.

Bill's reply was certain to be remembered by all managers present. "Look," he said, "our R&D strategy is to hire mostly young engineers, right out of college. For many of them, this is their first big-time job. We look for those types of young people who are busy with other technical hobbies, beyond work, like ham radio, fixing their cars, audio and sound system aficionados. We'd like them to learn which end of a soldering iron to pick up. If that means that we have to buy two sets of tools for every new hire, that's the right thing to do. And they should have access to reasonable parts from the lab stock too."

Another common-sense rule, which made our HP engineers feel like they were appreciated.


Bruce Wholey

Part of the reason for HP's specific attention to microwave research was undoubtedly the fact that Bill Hewlett had recruited several engineers from WWII research facilities on the East Coast. Bruce Wholey, who later advanced to Microwave Division Manager in 1962, came from Fred Terman's Radio Research Lab (countermeasures), at Harvard University. R&D engineer Art Fong came from the MIT Radiation Lab (radar research). And there were a number of others with experience in microwave instrumentation.

Bruce was a roughhewn-appearing and gruff-sounding Canadian-born man. He would answer the phone with a gruff, "Halllowww." He sounded like you were the last person he wanted to hear from. But he was really a pussycat, and quite a warm manager. His main failing, if you were to ask most of his engineers, was that he would come over to their lab benches to chat, and then smoke almost continuously. Worse, he would drop the expended cigarettes on the tile floor underfoot, and stamp them out with his shoe, so the engineer's area would smell for the rest of the day.

When HP first bought Sanborn Corporation, it seemed like a pure cash-flow machine. Although its main business was medical electrocardiographs, the product line also included multi-channel pen recorders, which were in great demand during the aerospace race in the Cold War. Those multi-channel recorders were used for the large test systems for printing out mechanical vibration performance on things like airframes. The line was being sold by the Independent Reps that HP was already using. In many cases, the same Reps already handled both Sanborn and HP, so the fit was automatic.

But, I have always felt that Bill Hewlett was out looking for medical instrumentation for HP, since his father was a doctor. In a real sense, measurement technology, applied to medical science, was exciting and productive, and offered contributions to the human endeavor. I think Bill saw that as a place where our technology-driven company could make some real humanitarian contributions.

The medical electrocardiograph business was like the razor-razorblade business. Sanborn's product was top-of-the-line, because their design used a recording paper called Perma-paper. It was a paper sandwich with a black background, covered by a clean white wax coat. The black only showed through, when a heated stylus, on the end of the recording pen moved across the surface and melted the wax, revealing a stark black line on white. In doctor's offices, any sort of liquid ink process, that caused splattered dots and blotches, was not acceptable. The Sanborn paper was exceedingly clean, so the record could be stapled into the patient's medical file folder.

Sanborn's problem was that their business model looked at the 60,000 U.S. primary care doctors as a cash-flow machine. They more or less gave away the cardiograph machine, in order to sell the high-profit paper. But the crucial fact, that somehow the HP acquisition managers failed to grasp, was that the 17-year patent for that special paper was about to expire. When that happened, shortly after HP became the new owner, the sub-contract paper manufacturer, Nashua Paper Products, started selling the paper directly to the doctors at a big discount. And a huge amount of revenue disappeared.

HP kept corporate management hands off for a year or two, but then Packard called on Bruce to move out to manage the recovery. Part of that recovery strategy was to inject more of HP's high-tech computer and system skills, and to begin to de-emphasize the individual doctor customer. This led to HP's move into intensive care system monitors. By exploiting HP's sensor technology and new computer system capabilities, the large systems found a much better fit to the HP field sales organizations. They just weren't equipped to answer phone calls from doctor's offices, on a weekend, to deliver a few dollars worth of Perma-paper. Furthermore, some revolutionary medical instrumentation breakthroughs resulted for HP as well, by emphasizing the large sophisticated intensive care monitoring.


Lyle Jevons

Lyle passed away on Easter Sunday, 1988. Although retired from HP since the mid 1970's, many of the people from the old Microwave Division remember him well, as well as his true impact on HP. In his early career, Lyle worked on instrumentation for the oil well industry in the Bakersfield, CA area. He later worked on the MA-l fire control radar, at Hughes Aircraft Company, when owner Howard Hughes was still out in public.

Lyle told of nights, when they were on the Hughes Company flight line, after midnight, readying a fighter for a test mission to the California desert gunnery ranges the next day. The Hughes airstrip is still in Los Angeles, just about 3 miles north of LAX, and with a runway running parallel to LAX. Some nights, as they worked, a well-maintained DC-3, with a large bay window on one side, would land, and taxi over to the project workers. Pilot Howard Hughes, in old sun-tan pants would get out, roll up his sleeves and work along with the engineers.

Lyle gained most of his HP fame during the introduction of the HP 8551A Microwave Spectrum Analyzer, in 1964. This was a brand new product sector for HP, with the main competitor being Polarad Corporation (not the film-maker, Polaroid) of Long Island, NY. Their business was about $5 million, out of a total market of about $8 million. They sold their instruments for about $5,000 while Panoramic, Inc., also of Long Island, came in about $7,000. Little foreign competition existed.

Lyle was working as Microwave Application Engineer at the time, and correctly predicted that the HP field engineers would not be able to come up to speed quickly, on applications and measurement techniques for this brand new technology. He proposed for HP to buy him a Ford Econoline van, equip it to mount the HP 8551A in a rack at the rear doors, for easy access or removal, add an Onan AC power generator, and to take the show on the road. While not intuitive at the beginning, it was an enormous success.

(Left) Earl Lipscomb, Manager of the Southwest Sales Region, presents Lyle Jevons with keys to the Ford Econoline van.
(Right) Lyle and John Smylie of Dallas show how spectrum analyzer demonstrator rack can be moved into a customer's plant.
From Measure Magazine December 1964. Courtesy of the Hewlett Packard Company

Lyle spent probably 6 months on the road, slowly moving across the country, working with customers, always in the company of the local FE, and thereby teaching each one those new applications at the same time he was selling to the customers. We began to see orders arriving from customers, often tracking Lyle's travels, as did the applications stories from the FEs.

A typical application was in the Antelope Valley, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles, the home of Edwards AFB. Accompanied by an Air Force Colonel, who was the frequency-control officer at Edwards, they parked the van alongside a phone booth at a desert intersection of Route 15 and 66, north of the base. The USAF problem was that there were three long-range surveillance radars, NASA, USAF, and FAA, all operating in S-band frequencies, on three separate mountain peaks, whose signals were interfering with each other.

It was the Colonel's job to straighten things out. The new HP analyzer, with its exceptionally-broad, 2,000 MHz sweep width, could see all three radar signals at once. The 60 dB dynamic range revealed the signal spectrum modulation "skirts," which were overlapping each other. The Colonel got on the phone booth phone (before the days of cellular), calling each radar technician in sequence, and unsorted them quickly. Lyle reported that, as he drove away that day, the Colonel offered him $100,000, if he could have kept that demo analyzer.

Several other field demos come to mind. As Lyle travelled across the US, he would call in to report on new applications, which led us to compile these into a follow-up application note AN 63A. The definitive product launch application note was the blockbuster AN-63, an all-time "best seller."

For Lyle's visit to the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration at their huge complex in Oklahoma City, Lyle reported that for scheduling reasons, they didn't have time to wheel out the demo rack from the back of the van, to push it down for a long aisle, into the building for a demo next to some radar equipment evaluation. So they gave him permission to actually drive the van itself for about 200 feet into the building. Could you do that today? Not likely.

Another new application for the 8551 that Lyle conceived during a weekend layover, when his curiosity about his van ignition system emissions led him to make some measurements. Lyle was a Ham Radio operator, so he fashioned a simply dipole antenna and began to trace out the noise sources inside the engine compartment, and thereby leakage into the passenger compartment.

This led to a formal demonstration at the Ford Motor company in Detroit, when his tour brought him to that industrial complex. The 8551 Analyzer turned out to be ideal for such RFI evaluations on automobiles because of its very wide frequency coverage as well as it's excellent sensitivity to broadband noise.

We sold many units for this application, described in AN-63A, into the RFI market where HP had zero penetration before, even though we didn't measure absolute levels of RFI signals per accepted test specs. Our unit found where the problems were, and specialized RFI receivers could measure per spec.

Lyle's applications trip was a long one, and not as glamorous as one might think. Lyle would get to feeling sorry for himself. Although he technically reported to me, as Marketing Manager, maybe once a month Division Manager John Young, would come over to my desk in the morning, with the exclamation, "Goddamn, Jevons, he called me at home last night at 2:00 am to resign. I had to spend an hour talking him out of it."

John also agreed to an unusual process for Lyle's expense accounts. Lyle HATED bureaucracy, so John arranged for his own secretary to actually fill out Lyle's expense reports once a month. Lyle would mail in all his expense receipts, and tell her how much money he withdrew from a particular sales office petty cash, and tell her how much cash he had on hand at the beginning and end of the period. She managed to compute his line item expenses and John signed them. Can you imagine any other HP employee being allowed to do that? I don't think so.

The next year, Lyle shipped the entire van to Europe. He used the same technique of customer visits with the FEs. Lyle enjoyed himself in Europe, but at some border crossing, one afternoon, the customs people were giving him a hard time. Then they noticed several 3/8-inch puncture holes on the sides of the van. When Lyle was asked about them, he simply smiled and said, "Indians." That made things more friendly, and he passed easily.

Lyle was a man of varied interests, one of which was that he was a confirmed theatre organ buff. He was personal friends with Howard Vollum, president and founder of Tektronix, with many contacts in an organization of theatre organ aficionados. He told of the last days of life for the massive Wurlitzer organ, at the Fox Theatre in San Francisco, before they tore down the old place. Thousands of theatre organ fans showed up for concerts that ran from midnight to dawn. Lyle was part of the behind-the-scenes crew which worked the fan room, where they had to keep wet towels on the drive motors for the air blowers, which heated up so much from hours of playing.

Lyle built his own aerobatic airplane, and flew it. He was a ham radio operator who worked on amateur radio high-tech experiments like moon-bounce tests.

He retired from HP to his own small fly-in ranch, just outside the boundaries of the U.S. Army's Fort Huachuca, near Tombstone, AZ. The base was a major testing area for military communications and battlefield signal environment simulations. We kept in touch. One day, Lyle called me, "John, what do you know about VAST?" I said, "It's a $4 billion dollar program for the Navy, for automatic testing of avionics on U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Each unit has 16 racks-full of equipment, running with a Varian computer, and costs about $500,000. Why do you ask?"
"I've got one."

"Wait a minute, Lyle, you didn't hear me. These things cost 1/ 2 million, etc, etc."

"I've got one."

And indeed he did. It turned out that in his work with friends on the MARS Ham Radio Club, at the base, the club got first refusal on any electronic equipment that was scrapped. So when this huge testing system was scrapped, the MARS Club brought it to Lyle's fly-in hanger, just off the base, to salvage it for the gold in the printed circuit boards and relays. The club used proceeds to help fund their operations. Lyle was asking me to see if I could find operating manuals for several pieces of HP gear that were part of the system.

In his retirement, Lyle signed on as flight engineer with a crew of retired airline captains, who were flying a 707 freight charter, to and from Australia. The mission was to fly back a load of 20 tons of mutton. The 707 was of British service, configured with Decca (UK) avionics, and some electrical controls that Lyle wasn't all that comfortable with. The flight out was uneventful, LAX to Hawaii to Guam to Adalaide to Alice Springs. The mutton was not frozen, with the idea of a short return flight. On the leg back to Guam, one jet engine bearing began to overheat. They shut it down, but did not declare an emergency, or report it to the ground, fearing any delay would cause obvious spoilage with the load. So they took off with four engines, and immediately shut down one. On to Hawaii, same technique.

On the Hawaii-to-LAX, other things went wrong. The shut-down engine used no fuel, while the others used too much. But there weren't any on-board instructions on how to transfer fuel between tanks. In the process of trying to find the right switch combinations, an electrical fire developed in the control panels. This burned out their long-range radio. So Lyle got the fire out, used short-range radio to relay messages to LAX, via other in-bound flights, and finally landed with the mutton in LAX. Typical Jevons, overcoming adversity unabashed.


Carl Mahurin

Carl Mahurin was the Dean of the HP Service Department, and was probably the single most significant factor in establishing the culture of the way HP dealt with service customers. Carl was a graduate agronomist from Stanford. When WWII came, he looked for a job with industry and came with HP. Through his early assignments, he came to run the service department in the basement of Bldg 8, at the corner of Page Mill Rd. and Park Blvd in Palo Alto. Finding a photo of Carl was not a trivial task, because in spite of his many decades of HP service, he actively avoided getting his picture taken in later years. This one came from a 1950s-era company basketball team shot. The incongruity to those who knew Carl in the 1970s was to be told that in his college days at Stanford he was a highly-accomplished athlete.

Carl was the consummate politician. But he knew innately the way to get what he needed. A typical example was his training department's move into new quarters in Bldg 11, at Page Mill and El Camino, in the early 1970's. By that time, I had transferred, to run a small department designing and producing light emitting diode (LED) products. My LED production operations were in the back of Bldg 11.

Since Carl's training group welcomed hundreds of customers to HP's world-famous training courses, Carl wanted a warm and friendly facility, with carpeted floors, drapes, reception areas with comfortable sofas, etc. He assumed that such plush surroundings would fail the budget test with his boss, Noel Eldred, and the long-held HP culture of tile floors, no carpets, and spare accommodations. What to do?

Carl enlisted Jane Neely, wife of Norm Neely, our California representative, and senior spokesman for sales techniques. Jane had done the interior decorating for perhaps a half-dozen of Norm's far-flung sales offices. They were well-known for warm hospitality, and a Spanish architecture, each with their "Cahuenga Room" bar for after hours informalities.

Jane designed for Carl a perfect combination of orange carpets, beige sofas, patterned drapes, classy coffee tables, etc, for a mere $50,000 budget. Which boss Noel Eldred promptly vetoed. But Carl was ready for that. He called Jane to tell her the bad news. Who promptly called Norm, who called Packard. Who called Eldred, and got the decision reversed. So Carl got his elegant facility for customers, and it was a grand spot. No bar in the factory, however.

Carl got many other things done, through the years, through sheer dint of personality. Although his personal style was very reticent, he was tenacious. In the earliest stages of the industrial video technology, Carl felt strongly that HP needed a video studio for modern training purposes. In later years, John Young remarked on the Mahurin style. John noted, that at the time, it was impossible to provide an economic justification for a video studio. Carl just knew HP should have one.

What he did was to borrow or lease a black/white camera and minimum equipment, for "trying out" some techniques. He also made sure to enlist both Dave and Bill to be test subjects for "video memos," to be used for passing the word about various management initiatives. By involving top management in parts of the programs and thinking, he set things in motion for the superior studios and programs HP enjoyed in the 80's and 90's, until other processes began to dominate. But he often avoided a true economic justification, as we have to prepare today.

Carl's service department of the 1950's was affectionately called the Mahurin Charm School. The hiring and internal training practice those days was for each new marketing engineer to spend up to 6 months in the service center. They worked on the bench, repairing instruments, answered customer phone calls and wrote service letters to customers. Carl himself edited the letter replies, and it often took 3 or 4 tries, to get the right empathetic tone that Carl insisted on. Those customer principles were never forgotten.

In spite of the usual 6-month training period in the service dept, I only spent a total of one day in Mahurin's Charm School. After about 3 months out on the production line, I moved into the basement of Bldg 9, to take up my period of service orientation. Bill Terry had just finished his training there. I think on my second day there, Carl Cottrell, from marketing, came down to find me, and to tell me that his workload in regional sales engineering was so high, that he couldn't afford to let me stay there for the normal training. So, I immediately moved upstairs, and began my work in sales engineering. I had to pick up Mahurin's "charm" by observation.

The basement of Bldg 9 was an afterthought. It had originally been added under the office structure, intended by Ralph Lee as a finished product and in-process storage facility. When space ran low, Mahurin's Service Dept was moved downstairs. It was a bad fit, because the ceiling height was not adequate for normal industrial benches and personnel, but there they had to stay for several years. Electric distribution was way inadequate, and I remember being appalled when I saw an electric distribution/circuit breaker box, with an electric cooling fan mounted on the front. It was blowing air into the wiring to keep it cool enough to prevent tripping the circuit breakers. It was obviously a city code violation, and I was surprised that most of the people down there took some pride in working under those conditions.

One interesting tidbit from my short previous period on the production line. Our line was producing HP 494 travelling tube amplifiers and HP 608 signal generators. My first job was mechanical assembly on the very front end of the HP 608 line. It consisted of bolting together several different sheet metal chassis parts, and adding some components like the power transformer. So, here I was, a new kid from the Midwest, energetic and green, assembling those starting chassis like crazy. I think I had stacked up about 10 finished subassemblies, when one of the senior wiring women came over to me, and quietly told me, "We do three an hour." So, in spite of the non-union conditions on our production lines, I had just learned the theory of pacing and the long-distance run vs. the sprint. (And working as a team.)

Carl had a preference for military technician retirees, who had been through the U.S. Navy training schools, and had worked on electronic systems, were ideal for HP service work. So he initiated the practice of hiring large numbers of navy techs, who were being mustered out of the Navy at Moffat Field in Mountain View. We also obtained a number of officer-level retirees, among others, Chuck Ernst, whom Dean Abramson named Commander Whitehead, for his white hair. Chuck later assumed Carl's position when he retired.

One of Carl's innovations was to personalize the training courses held in his schools, in Bldg 18. He did this by including in the usual 3 weeks of high tech courses, a short tutorial dedicated to "Tasting California Wines." It was presented by Fred Waldron, a serious wine expert in his own right. Since the neophyte field engineers were all the way from highly sophisticated people, we had hired from competitors, to brand new engineers right out of college, the course was always well received. Moreover, Mahurin would invite high level managers from HP to the tasting, held after the tutorial on the tasting process. Fred scheduled this event for late in the afternoon, before all left for dinner. This often included Dave and Bill and John Young, and many others.

I recall talking with a fairly senior, new hire FE at a wine-tasting reception. He said, "This is absolutely amazing. Before HP, I have worked for the Burroughs Company for 12 years. I was working out of the Detroit office, where I had been hired. I never was allowed to visit the Burroughs headquarters, I never got visited by any headquarters personnel in the field. Here, I have been with HP, for about 4 months, I am here learning the company products, visiting your factories to see the production lines. Just a few minutes ago, I was shaking hands and talking personally with John Young, the president of our company, that is $5 billion dollars large, who was sincerely interested in finding out about my Burroughs' experience. What an amazing company!"

A final story about Fred Waldron. His primary job was training for the HP intensive care monitoring systems from Sanborn. These were highly-sophisticated systems that performed amazing monitor actions for deathly ill patients. Well, as luck would have it, Fred himself was felled by a heart attack, and landed in Stanford hospital. When he woke up he found himself wired up to--what else--an HP system. He joked afterward that at that moment he prayed that all his training for field sales and service engineers had taken hold. He came out just fine.


Egon Loebner

Egon was another of the true geniuses who populated the HP Laboratories. He had joined HP from RCA Advanced Laboratories at Princeton, NJ, as an expert on electro-luminescence. I got to know Egon, as my little product development group at HPA Division was beginning to develop light emitting diodes for numeric indicators.

There were so many process variables in those days, it was a wonder that we ever did produce semi-conductor diodes of Gallium-Arsenide-Phosphide (GaAsP), which would emit red light. Our manufacturing and design guys were always calling on experts in the HP Labs, such as Loebner, Bob Burmeister, Paul Green, and others who helped solve those nasty processing problems.

Just one example; in processing GaAs wafers into diodes, there were something like 32 different process steps from start to the end, and the whole cycle took maybe a month. At one point, we bought ourselves a simple new mechanical thickness gage, which were used to slide new wafers under a probe, to measure thickness of approximately 0.010 inches. Except that someone forgot to throw away the new brass probing point, that came with the machine, and replace it with plastic.

It seems that just rubbing the brass probe across the wafer was enough to transfer copper atoms from the metal probe onto the wafer surface. Later, in the diffusion furnace, those few copper atoms diffused into the crystal lattice structure, just enough to kill the light. Worse, it took us a full month, and hundreds of wafers in production, to find out that entire batches were ruined. "Those were times that tried men's souls," and we often needed expert help.

Other than his profound technical contributions (there is a hard-bound book in HP's libraries, created in memory of Egon, which covers his lifetime contributions at HP), I remember Egon for two particularly personal events.

Egon plotted political views of a group of fellow-students,
which mimicked this color chart

1) Once, in an informal setting, Egon and I were discussing a particular graphic used in electro-optics, called the CIE (Commission Internationale De L'Eclairage) Chromaticity Diagram. In the optical business, it defines dominant wavelength and color purity. It shows every color of the visible spectrum. Egon mentioned that in his later college years, he had once postulated, that the different colors of light as shown in the graphic, might well be replaced by political viewpoints. So he undertook a simple college project to survey some hundred of his fellow students and professors, and plotted their political positions on a similar graph. It was surprising to me, but not to him, that his survey showed people's political spectrum was distributed very close to the color spectrum.

To me, it showed his exquisite curiosity, and his cross-disciplinary approach to life.

2) In 1978, I was National President of the National Conference of Standards Laboratories as mentioned before. I was looking for a banquet speaker for our annual conference in Los Angeles. So, I got a commitment from Eberhardt Rechtin, who had served with Dave Packard at the U.S. Department of Defense, in the early 1970's. When Packard returned to HP in 1972, he convinced Rechtin to come with him. Rechtin had served previously with NASA, and was a technically brilliant and multi-faceted man with a charming speaking personality. I felt he fit the bill nicely for our banquet speech, which had technical people as well as spouses with only a shallow interest in our nation's technology.

About a month before the conference, Rechtin called and cautioned me that he probably would not be able to make his engagement. As it turned out, he had already been hired away from HP by the Aerospace Corp, a major program contractor for the U.S. Air Force. So I scrambled to find a replacement speaker. Luckily, Egon had just returned from a 3-year tour as a government loaned executive, serving as a technical liaison officer at the U.S. State Department in Moscow. In that role, he had organized cross-liaison trips of hundreds of technical groups and committees who were travelling in each other's countries. Subject matter included everything from welding technology to space travel, as the two countries were beginning to open up their technical relations in a good way.

I felt that Egon's observations of the Russian technology of instrumentation and industry would be interesting and current and valuable to our dinner guests. After his after-dinner speech with appropriate slides, during which he praised certain of the Russian technologies, the question and answer session deteriorated quickly. A metrologist from Rockwell Corp., Anaheim, went on for about 5 minutes trying to refute Loebner's positions. The Master of Ceremonies asked the questioner to finish, and frame his question, but he insisted that he MUST REFUTE Loebner's positions. When several others in the audience rose to back the questioner, I, as president, took the microphone and ended the after-dinner meeting.

As the dinner broke up, the original questioner came up, and almost got in a fistfight with the Master of Ceremonies. I was flabbergasted by this turn of events. Egon just smiled.

Later, Egon and I flew home from LAX, on the same flight. We had a drink in the lounge, while waiting for the flight. It was there that he showed me his forearm, which had the distinctive 5-digit serial number tattoo of the WWII Jewish concentration camp victims. It turned out that the questioner had been a German U-boat commander during WWII, and that he had immigrated to the U.S. to join some of the Rockwell teams, that were working on inertial guidance for inter-continental ballistic missiles.

As a naïve mid-westerner, I was extremely unknowledgeable of so many of those awful political and racial events of WWII. Egon carefully informed me that many Germans could not conceive of any good technology, whatsoever, coming out of Slavic races like Russia or Poland. Poland was his country of birth. Then he proceeded to tell me of his narrow escape at the Auschwitz death camp.

It seems that by the time he got to the camp, someone realized that his engineering background could be put to use in the camp's facilities dept. It turned out that a major dysentery epidemic had just broken out, and since Berlin was on the same river, but way downstream from the death camp, there was a remote danger the camp's sewage germs might infect Berlin. The camp commander decreed that their sewage system must be brought to top form. So Egon got to design and specify equipment and pipes for the construction. He took great delight in telling me how he massively over-designed the pipes, such that he used up enough extra steel, that might have manufactured many Nazi tanks, a number I can no longer recall.


John Young

John Young was in the HP Class of 1957-58, which was an attempt by Packard to refresh the management ranks of the company. Virtually all of the top and middle management of HP in the late 1950's were middle-aged men, who had grown up in the WWII era, and joined the company well after their college age. Dave and Bill finally realized that they had been neglecting the pipeline of eligible young managers, ready to move up into the management ranks of the company.

In the years since 1945, the Graduate Schools of Business in the nation had thrived. There was the highly-successful example of Robert McNamera's "Brain Trust," a small group of whiz kids, who he organized at the Pentagon, during the WWII war years. That team created what came to be known as early "operations research," later to be called systems analysis. McNamera had previously come from the Ford Motor Company, and achieved production miracles, in materials and production, during those wartime periods of massive growth and serious materials shortages.

Dave and Bill decided that they would begin to recruit a group of MBA's into HP, to groom them for later management. This group included some very successful young men. John Young, Tom Perkins (later of venture capital fame), Dean Morton, Jim Treybig (later of Tandem fame), and many more.

John Young, a native of Idaho, grew up in a small town in Southeast Oregon, Klamath Falls, and earned his EE degree from Oregon State. He served a tour in the USAF, part of which was on the personal staff of Colonel John Stapp. Stapp was the brilliant research commander, some would say fearless, of the early Holloman AFB rocket-sled experiments. This included strapping himself on the front of a rocket sled, to test the process of bailing out of an airplane at barely-subsonic speeds. He didn't actually bail out of the sled, just tested human endurance during the speed run. John then obtained his MBA from Stanford, and worked his MBA summer as an intern in HP's finance department in 1957.

Upon full-time status, John was attached to the marketing department, and quickly was appointed Regional Sales Manager for the New York/NJ/Philadelphia Representative organizations. I moved from Microwave Application Engineer, to assist him. We used to joke, that our titles should really be Regional Sales Clerk. Our lowly status was confirmed at quota-setting time, because when the Rep owners visited to negotiate sales quotas for the next year, they would talk to John and me, for a time, then excuse themselves, and go directly to talk with Eldred and Packard to set the real sales quotas.

After 2 years, John was tapped by Finance Manager Ed van Bronkhorst, to run a project study which would lead to purchase of all the independent Rep companies. As one could imagine, such a project was fraught with political landmines. Each of the owners were personal friends of Dave and Bill, each was fiercely independent, and no one could be sure whether they would consider getting merged into the big corporation, and all its bureaucracy and rules.

The Rep acquisition program went so smoothly, no one could believe it. In fact, the very first company to sell out to HP was Earl Lipscomb of Texas. He, along with Tiny Yewell, of Boston, were both outspoken and overbearing. But those were the first two companies to sell out to HP. In our regional sales offices, we were told to anticipate that many, if not most of the reps, would choose to cut HP adrift and remain independent.

So we had made plans for that contingency. We identified key senior field engineers in the Rep organizations we managed, approached them and contingently offered them management positions, in a replacement company field organization. The plan wasn't needed. Only 2 of the 13 Rep organizations, and the smallest, chose to decline the HP offer.

No doubt they could all see the huge advantages to be a part of the HP family.

When the four charter divisions were established in 1962, John was appointed Marketing Manager for the Microwave Division (MWD). Two years later, division manager Bruce Wholey transferred to manage the Sanborn Medical acquisition, and John rose to Division Manager. In a very short time, he was to have a massive impact on HP management processes, especially on the new product strategy creation process.

He moved up through the ranks to Electronic Products Group Manager, to Vice President, and from 1978 to 1992 was President and CEO of the entire corporation.

I reported directly to John for about 6 years. He was undoubtedly the most incisive and well-organized person I have ever known. Dave and Bill were "intuitive" managers who grew into greatness, by sheer common sense and humanity. John brought his value to HP in a well-organized approach to professional management. It was his establishment of the Microwave Division new-product creation process that made that division grow from about $22 million in 1964 to $75 million plus, in 1969. The normal growth for HP Test & Measurement in those days averaged 15% per year, or doubling every 5 years. John more than tripled our sales revenues in 5 years.

Even more important, as described in the SPD Profile section, he developed a whole cadre of young managers, ready to take their place in future organizations. They cut their teeth on small product lines, defending them from competition, and creating dramatic new introductions, while still under the guidance and counsel of older and more seasoned managers.

John's memory was prodigious and legendary. When paired with Paul Ely, the MWD R&D Manager (below), wonderful things would result. Paul was relentless, highly aggressive, and a dominating conversationalist. Product strategy meetings were scheduled every Wednesday morning, religiously. Since there were 4 product groups in the MWD, the division management team, Young, Ely, Doyle and Minck would hear from each team once a month.

I recall in one meeting, Young was tilted back on his chair, leaning against the wall, with his eyes sort of closed. Ely was stating something like, "We are doing this, on this project, because of A and B and C." John tilted forward, his chair hitting the floor, and said, "Wait a minute, Ely, a year ago, on this same point, you said almost the opposite, D and E and F." Without a moment of hesitation, Ely rebutted, "Yes, but G and H and I, because of J and K and L."

In that fabled Microwave Division, John Young's young second lieutenants became the "Class the HP Stars fell on." In a way they were just like the famous West Point class of WWII generals, who all came from the same graduating class. The Microwave Division's management process became highly visible, since Packard would point to Young's successes, in revenue growth and profitability. It became known as the "triad" organization, with marketing, R&D and manufacturing sub-managers, trusted to run their own small businesses of perhaps $5 million a year in revenue.

In a slightly derogatory tone, the movement of so many of those successful Microwave Division managers, into other organizations of the company became known as the "Microwave Mafia." A long line of young men moved to positions of great influence in the company, and brought along with them the smooth organizing principles, that John established. Paul Ely, John Doyle, Doug Chance, Ned Barnholt, Jim Ferrell, Dick Anderson, Hal Edmundson, George Bodway, Dick Hackborn, Harold Kramer, Al Steiner, Dave Weibel, Scott Wright, Tom Lauhon, Brian Humphries, Marc Saunders, and many more.

John was a knowledgeable manager. He practiced MBWA religiously, visiting production operations regularly, and learning of current problems. One morning, just after we arrived at work, John and I were chatting over a cup of coffee. One of the plating shop process managers came up, and urgently told John of a possible problem, that had happened about 10 pm the previous night. It seemed some excess acidic chemicals had inadvertently been released into the Palo Alto sewer system. John said, "No problem, I know all about it, and it was taken care of. The city was notified. I was here last night, and learned of it when I was down having coffee with the night crew."

In later days of world-notoriety for our gigantic $75 billion HP corporation, it might be forgotten that it was John Young, who took over as CEO in 1978, when the company revenue was $1.9 billion, and managed it until 1992, when he left with a revenue of $16.4 billion. In the process, he led HP into the fast-growth areas of printing technology and computer and PC initiatives, that were exceedingly complex. I assert that he deserves extraordinary credit, but his recognition seemed to disappear rather quickly, with the entry of the next CEO, Lew Platt. I believe that is unfortunate and sad.

Michael Malone's book, Bill and Dave, relates the growing rift between Young and Packard in John's last years as CEO. It may have Packard's age showing or the fact that Young started working with Presidential candidate Bill Clinton on high-tech business issues. The new book by House and Price, The HP Phenomenon, gives extra credit to Young for the complex computer business strategies that he developed during a chaotic era of computer system rivalries. At one time HP was selling computer products with FIVE different operating systems. Remember RISC, and Joel Birnbaum?


Paul Ely

Paul Ely was a dominating (and domineering) personality. He had already made his mark on the microwave industry, long before he got to HP. From Lehigh University, he joined the Sperry Company in Long Island, which was a major system contractor to the U.S. Navy. In talking to his Sperry contemporaries later, I learned that Paul was pretty insufferable in his years at Sperry, Great Neck. He soon moved (or perhaps was moved) to the Sperry Microwave Division in Gainesville, FL, where he rose to become R&D manager for that facility, with a product line that partly competed with HP. Yet, he had set his sights on joining HP in time.

Upon joining the HP Microwave Division, Paul took on several projects, in both of which he had zero management responsibility. He was the single person involved. But he was so intent on working within the HP meritocracy, that he was willing to submerge his ambitions for the time when he would be called upon. Which he was, once Young rose to Division Manager in 1964.

On balance, Ely accomplished an amazing amount at HP, although several of his microwave product success credits were in the pipeline and almost introduced, by the time he took over R&D. The HP 8551/851 spectrum analyzer was an overwhelming winner. The HP 8410 network analyzer was Paul's baby, however, and he noted later that from way back in his pre-HP microwave engineering days, he was totally frustrated by the old, tedious slotted line measurement technology. So, when the dual-sampling, down-conversion, sweeping network parameter measurement technology became possible, he pushed it with everything he had. He also coined the sales slogan "stamp out slotted lines," for the network analyzer.

One of Paul's greatest contributions to the RF/microwave technology, was his aggressive advocacy for microwave thin-film microcircuits built on single crystalline sapphire. This ability to integrate multiple microwave functions onto a single substrate allowed dramatic improvement in the functional performance of subsystems. This was true, since in any microwave sub-system, the inter-connections between functions such as mixers, amplifiers, filters, and others was reduced to nothing because those functions could be grouped next to each other on the same substrate. They were connected with tiny gold bond wires, rather than coax connectors and external cables.

Paul's budgets for the technology, along with the lab manager, George Bodway, were always growing, and took over a lot of the available resources. In fact, there was rumor that some of the engineering project expenses were so large, they had to be capitalized. It was strict HP finance policy to expense ALL engineering as it accrued. When Paul left the SPD to take over the computer operation, he took his finance manager with him, so I guess we will never know. Yet, the performance of dozens of HP RF/MW products were so enhanced, that we know it was the right decision to push that technology.

He did push sapphire technology too far, finally. At one point, Paul decided it was important to get HP into the CATV (Community Antenna TV) distribution amplifier business. This was crucial because the nation was being wired for video cables, to support the new way to distribute TV without over-the-air transmission. Paul signed several very large quantity contracts, but insisted that the sapphire technology be used. But, since he had to out-bid other companies, which used simple ceramic or PC board technology, their production costs were much lower, and our production was not profitable.

Management style

Paul's management style was surely mixed. While he always gave the impression of consensus and collegiality, there was little question that he dominated his people. He would sit back in a product review meeting, and let the group manager present, but then he would chime in with directions laid out, yet it would seem to be from the group.

I recall one momentous meeting, where he held an off-site get together at his house. He was going to reorganize the engineering dept, and I was invited as an observer from marketing. He actually got all his leaders to participate in a new organization change, with products and manager assignments up for grabs. It was something I would have never attempted, because of the personal minefield it presented. Each person there had their career on the line, real-time, in the ongoing discussions. But he handled it masterfully, and although some people gained and some lost in position, I think we did end up with a better organization and several better people.

Other section managers and project managers, who worked for Paul, might give more-mixed opinions for his lack of accepting consensus, and his overbearing ways of cutting off discussion for projects he didn't want to support. Interestingly, in a number of cases, those managers succeeded in maintaining projects, that they knew HP needed, in spite of Paul's having thought he cut off all spending.

Frankly, I did lose track of Paul's career, after he moved to the HP computer operations. My observation was that he literally saved that computer group from disaster. It had previously gone through about 10 different managers, including some pretty heavyweight people, Bill Terry, Tom Perkins, George Newman, Carl Cottrell, Bill Gross, etc. But it seemed that they were trying to be another IBM, with seriously overlapping product and software strategy committees, who were mired in bureaucracy.

Paul came in, and said, "I want a Mr. 1000, Mr. 2000, and Mr. 3000, and all other committees are cancelled." He also said, "I want distributed computing as a strategy, and silicon-on-sapphire technology (SOS)." SOS was quite different than the sapphire microcircuits mentioned earlier. In this technology, silicon vapor was deposited on top of sapphire crystalline surfaces, to make thousands of transistors, which used very little power. The problem was that silicon and sapphire crystal structures had different atomic spacing, so as the silicon grew in thickness, it would develop defect lines randomly on the surface. If a critical tiny transistor element crossed over one of those defect lines, it would fail. So the yield of that process was awful, even if the low operating power consumption was excellent.

I used to eat lunch with Barney, occasionally, in the HP cafeteria, when he would come to my table, if all his other lab friends weren't there. I asked him once about the viability of SOS, and he just denigrated it. He said that the lithography process experts were making such fast progress, in the packing hundreds more devices on regular silicon, that the low power of SOS was not going to win. In addition, he said that the very defects inherent in the crystal lattice spacing differences would doom it, except for very specialized purposes like atomic weapon electronics, where they had to be impervious to nuclear radiation. Those radiation designs used design layouts that were more redundant and less efficient, to preserve the advantages that SOS technology held for radiation resistance. But they never made sense for HP type products.

The working environment

It should be noted that Paul espoused a human-scale philosophy at work. More than once, in informal meetings, I heard him state that a business environment is like a family. He proclaimed that it was important to remember that most people spend more than 1/3 of their waking hours working, including weekends at times. It was during Paul's term at the Microwave Division, that the office rules were changed to permit growing plants to be cultivated in personal offices and cubicles. It provided a simple personalization of an employee's office, and was a real benefit in terms of ambiance.

Desks in the "bullpen"

It was Dave and Bill who preferred the "bullpen" approach to office organization, and only later in the 1990's, were cubicles for ordinary employees accepted. I have always thought Dave felt that way because he was so tall, and he could come outside his office, and look over the sea of desks to see if the person he wanted was at his desk. Certainly private offices were verboten, except for Dave and Bill themselves. When HP bought the Fairchild building on Arques Avenue in Sunnyvale, we found 12 private offices along the entire front of the building. The first thing HP did, was assign 3 people to each of those previously private offices.

I have always agreed with Dave and Bill's preference for the "bull-pen" approach to desk layout. While it always looked a lot like what we saw in aerospace companies, the buildings of the Stanford Industrial Park complex contained rows and rows of desks.

Each building was 2 floors, each of which was about 1 acre of space, 200 x 200 feet. That meant, typically, hundreds of employees working in pretty close proximity. One might have assumed that normal crosstalk would have made conversation difficult, especially when talking on the phone with field engineers and customers. But, the design of the building's air conditioning was made to introduce a broad spectrum of audio noise into the big room, which tended to mask voices from across the room. One could experience this clearly, when the air conditioner would be turned off for some reason, and you could easily hear conversations from way across the room.

One main reason I liked the bullpen approach was that managers were usually seated amongst the people who worked for them. For brand new-hire engineers, this was extremely valuable, because one could hardly avoid listening in on the way their manager handled customers, field personnel and internal cross-department issues. You heard and learned from the closeness.

On the other hand, one negative aspect of the no-partition culture was that someone like Paul, who was loud and assertive, would blast out all across the whole floor. His Division Manager office was right in the middle of Bldg 5U, and whenever he was holding forth, everyone in the whole floor could know his mood, good or bad, and his effect on the person who was in the office. Sometime it could be quite embarrassing, although one has to think Paul might have intended it that way. He soon had a private office, enclosed all the way to the 30-foot slant ceiling, and built along the north wall of Bldg. 5. Most people breathed a sigh of relief. And I soon left microwave marketing management and embarked on my career in light emitting diodes at HPA.

Recruiting marketing engineers.

It was also during Ely's reign that we formalized our college recruiting processes. By the late 1960's, this program was a massive annual commitment to find and recruit the best brains of our countries' engineering colleges and universities. The scope was huge, and expensive. It involved organizing several dozen HP recruiting teams, each assigned to several colleges. The team was responsible for establishing good relations with the engineering department heads and top professors. This allowed HP to identify top candidates early, make contacts, and often offer them summer intern jobs after their junior year.

The teams did on-campus interviews, and invited the key candidates to visit our labs around the country, where full-day interviews were conducted. All the data from multiple college interviewers were combined late in the day, to establish which people would receive a factory trip, or even a coveted job offer, before flying home. Thousands of college engineers were evaluated on campuses, hundreds were invited to the factories, and hundreds were hired each year.

Along about the late 60's, Ely and I began to observe that our marketing and production engineer needs were being filled by "technical washouts" from the lab. Rather than being a negative image, these were engineers who simply found that they didn't enjoy the on-bench work of design engineers. We reasoned that the cause was in the very fact that on-campus recruiters were, for the most part, lab engineers. It was natural that they would try to hire people like themselves, i.e., 4.0 average students. But what marketing was looking for were those students who published the student technical magazine, or were president of the student IEEE, and not necessarily a 4.0 average type of person.

Paul was quick to agree that marketing needed to insert some marketing personnel onto the recruiting teams, so that they could be part of the identification of appropriate personalities of recruits more suited to our marketing needs. The new process made a distinct difference, and in just a year or two, we were realizing many more new hires, who were directly suited to the marketing and manufacturing and field sales personalities.

After several decades of loyal HP service, Paul left the company to seek other opportunities. I won't presume to understand the reasons why, but clearly he was telegraphed that his name was not on the lists of future CEO candidates. Those kinds of decisions are made by people 6 levels higher in management and strategies than I was ever involved in. One can read the books about Platt and Carly and those momentous moments when management sequences are determined.


John Doyle

John Doyle was Microwave Division Manufacturing Manager during the explosive growth years of the 1960's. He emigrated from the United Kingdom to Stanford University for his graduate degree, and hired on to HP after graduation. John had a wonderful sense of humor, which belied his seemingly taciturn exterior. He humorously described his own move to the USA, since in an average British family, he said, the first son inherits the Baronial Estate, the second son goes into the military, and the third son, the ministry. The fourth son goes to the colonies. And that is how he ended up at Stanford University.


Packard was long understood to have pronounced the HP management style as MBO (Management by Objective), as opposed to Management by Directive. MBD meant that orders came from some central management and planning team. But, I believe that it was John Doyle, who coined the term, MBWA, (Management by Walking--or Wandering--Around). John was a keen student of the management processes, and I was always impressed with his ability to listen to his workers.

He seemed to make it a practice to NOT stop at his desk when he first came to work in the morning, instead walking among the production areas, a different one each day. By doing this, he found out if there were problems that he might need to give attention to that day. It saved delays in the system, if he would have had to wait for a written report, and it endeared him to his troops.

Stanford days

John told me once, how he made some income during his Stanford years. Once a week, he would go to the Mark Hopkins hotel in San Francisco, and with safety ropes attached, would go around the restaurant on a narrow ledge, washing the windows of their 26 th -floor restaurant, Top of the Mark. He said the heights never bothered him. Until one day, although he supposedly had safety lines attached to the soapy brush, it somehow came loose, and plunged down 24 stories, to land on a rooftop. He said as he watched it recede, he lost his confidence. He pulled himself up, went inside and resigned, and never went back to that job. Who could blame him?

New plant in the UK

HP's first international production was established in Boeblingen, Germany. But when the time came to place another plant, this time in the United Kingdom, John was on the team which undertook the planning and building of the new plant in Bedford, just north of London. While this program took John back to his mother country, he used to tell how he was appalled by the social class system in that country, looking at it from his perspective as a newly-minted American. In their negotiations with the British banking community for financing and lines of credit and other loans, John told of meeting with bank higher-ups in their formal dining rooms. These meetings included the private, mahogany-paneled dining rooms, with a costumed waiter assigned to each person at the table. A very exclusive management perk.

John, of course, made sure during the establishment of the HP, Ltd. plant and recruiting, that none of that personal caste system made its way into the HP structure.

Automation in the fab shop

John was also part of the manufacturing team, which planned and installed the "Milwaukee-Matic" automated milling machines, which revolutionized the short-run type of fabrication processes HP used. The system had no computers as such, just stored memory and high mechanical precision, needed on much of our microwave product line. I seem to recall that the early designs were programmed with punched paper tape. I believe that HP ended up with 5 or more of these automated machines. In the end, however, it seemed like the team that operated that production center, had built an empire, which resulted in exploiting work for the machine center that could have been done cheaper on other processes.


Dick Anderson

Dick had a long string of distinguished technical achievements in the Microwave lab before he left to run the computer group. In the early 1960's, he started in the project for the microwave half of the hugely successful HP 8551A spectrum analyzer, lead by George Jung. This involved serious technical breakthroughs, in building a sweeping-while-phase-locked BWO, lots of broadband subsystems, and other components like a manual 60 dB step attenuator. He then moved on to manage the equally successful HP 8410 network analyzer, and contributed mightily to that world-class innovation.

But Dick will probably be mostly remembered, for his highly-visible industrial expose, about the poor reliability of U.S. semiconductor products. When Dick took over HP's computer divisions, our production engineers were beginning to understand how important it was to temperature-stress all components, before assembling them onto printed circuit boards. It was part of our Class B environmental testing mentioned later in this paper. The result was that a major project was established to temperature-test all incoming semiconductors, in 100% screening tests. The results were devastating.

The U.S. semiconductor industry of the time was under tremendous production stress because of the huge increase in computers and printers and a variety of technology innovations. It was fairly well known, that the going rate of failure for incoming active-component inspection, was on the order of 0.1%, which was pretty bad in itself. But the real problem was that the industry was almost totally blind to customer protest. Worse, the Japanese semiconductor industry had adopted the preachings of Edwards Deming, the Quality guru from the U.S., and his gospel of total quality processes. Japan had dramatically improved their production processes, and were regularly achieving failure rates on the order of 10 parts per million (10 ppm was 0.0010%). 100 times better than 0.1%.

Dick's HP testing project summary report revealed these stark statistics, and he took the bold move of going public. The technology business uproar was immediate, and loud. Coming from HP, the data could not be denied, and the spotlight, which then swung to the cavalier attitudes of the semiconductor kings, really began to have an effect. One big part of the action was that U.S. user companies starting to sign big contracts with Japanese suppliers. But the true reward of Dick's gutsy action was that American semiconductor companies finally GOT IT. They began sweeping retrenchments, to establish their own total quality programs, which in a few years got them up toward the superior quality levels that Japan had shown were possible.

One sidebar story to this event was instructive. HP's Microwave Division had signed some large supply contracts with a nationally known semiconductor company in Santa Clara. Large quantities, and a known requirement, meant low prices. Yet, once we had established burn-in racks for incoming inspection, the failure rates went up to 2% or so.

So we began to ship back enormous quantities, based on sampling burn-in inspections. Soon the selling company asked for a conference, and of all the stupid arrogance, they stated that they were going to have to re-negotiate the contract price upwards. Their reason? They never figured they were going to get back so many bad units. Needless to say, we cancelled that stupid company's supply contract.

Another not-so-amusing semiconductor tale.

One of HP's Medical Division key managers, Ralph Hanson, decided to leave HP, and bought a small, growing company that was in the implanted heart monitor business. They were in the $5 million-a-year category. Because their products were implanted into someone's chest, they were super careful to design ultra-reliable circuits. For their components, they standardized on buying only military-grade (MIL-STD-883) semiconductors, reasoning that the extra screening tests that the manufacturer was required to do for the military applications, would assure them reliable products.

On a really black day, Hanson received a letter from the Semiconductor Company informing him that for the last several years, the manager of their quality control department had been falsifying tests and test data to cover up serious reliability deficiencies in their mil-spec product line. And, while they would invoke their standard contract clause, disclaiming any contingent liability, they would be happy to replace all of their deficient products that had been shipped, if he would furnish paperwork showing what he had bought. Well, getting replacement transistors and ICs was the least of his problems, because the rest of them were inside hundreds of human beings' chests. As it would turn out, the recall program almost killed that little company. But it shows again, the arrogance of the U.S. semiconductor industry in that era.


Bill Terry

Bill and I joined HP within 6 months of each other, and I have always considered him a good friend, although he progressed much higher in management. Bill had an abrasive personality, although he could be very friendly when he wanted to. A lot of his career was devoted to running the oscilloscope programs in the company, and with the continuing times that HP got beat up by Tektronix, it was no wonder that those HP managers sort of grew chips on their shoulders.

Bill came into the company in the HP Class of '58, although he was not an MBA. So he never quite fit the manager mold of those like John Young, Dean Morton or Tom Perkins. He, as almost all newly-hired engineers, spent about 6 months in the Mahurin "Charm School," working on instrument repair, answering customer complaints, and then spending several months out on the actual production lines.

After spending some years running the Colorado Springs scope operations, Bill returned to the Bay Area, and spent several years as one of the long line of "temporary" czars of the HP computer operations. None of them succeeded, until Paul Ely was assigned to that formidable task. Bill moved to take over the Test and Measurement operation, and grew it very successfully, for more than a decade, retiring from that position in the 90's.

One of Bill's best manager traits was his little Terry-grams, personal notes he sent to people whose work had come to his attention. He was an avid reader of industry publications, so any lab engineer who succeeded in publishing a technical article in a trade magazine would get a personal note from Bill, "Nice Job," Bill Terry. It was well-received attention for everyone.


Doug Chance

My marketing organization chart of October, 1968, shows some fresh-faced young engineers among the 80+ people in Microwave Marketing. Among these were several who were destined to greatness at HP and elsewhere: Doug Chance, Al Steiner, Dick Hackborn, Scott Wright, Doug Spreng, Doug Lanterman. In earlier-year charts there were a few other names who moved well up in HP management too: Ned Barnholt and Murray Horton. Lanterman left for ATL, a countermeasures system company and rose to head their System Program. Murray went off to electronic sales for a competitor, but found more fame later as the founder of The Good Earth restaurant chain on the Peninsula.

I always felt that Doug Chance had most of the management attributes of John Young. He was incisive, strategic, intelligent, and a real team player. In my group, he was Product Marketing Manager for Signal Generators. While the signal generator line had always been a cash cow for HP, the 1960s were a time when we had to starve development there to allow R&D money for the expanding lines of spectrum and network analyzers and automatic network analyzer systems.

But signal generator spending was coming back and Doug led the strategies for many of the new transistorized products which offered far more than just AM-FM-Pulse modulations. Frequency synthesis was making programmable sources possible, and developments of components made programmable amplitudes possible.

After I left the MWD in early 1969, and after a few months under Ken Tingley, Doug was promoted to my marketing manager job, under Paul Ely who had taken over the division when John Young moved up to Group Manager. Doug managed a rapidly-expanding and diverse line of products which even included tape recorders. These had been attached to Microwave Division after the acquisition of Walt Selsted, a senior R&D manager from Ampex. Because MWD had a massive fabrication and machine shop capability, Hewlett decided that it belonged there to start. That line moved soon to San Diego Division to combine with the X-Y recorders that had been acquired from Moseley.

At about 1970, MWD was bursting at the seams with the huge success of the spectrum and network analyzers, and the re-emergence of modern signal generators. Doug was appointed to the team studying where to move a new division. They studied locations at Albuquerque and Reno and Santa Rosa, which ended up getting the decision. Then Doug took over as Division Manager for the new venture. With a product line of spectrum and network analyzers, Santa Rosa bloomed. The site also included an advanced R&D facility for microwave microcircuits and components, under George Bodway.

I lost track of Doug in succeeding years as he moved down to the computer operations in Cupertino, and moved up in high management responsibilities. Later, in the early 1990s, Doug left HP to take over CEO responsibilities at Octel, a Fremont-based company that was a leading supplier for voice-mail products. Doug later joined a number of other company Boards of Directors. But in his HP career, Doug was a true contributor to the success of many ventures at HP, and a credit to his management skills.


Ned Barnholt

Ned came to my marketing department in the mid-60s, after a stint in the R&D lab, and I think a short time in production. I recall being a part of his interview team several years before, and our agreement was that he would come to marketing after some suitable experience in other areas. I think he joined marketing in about 1966. So he was in my marketing group for only a short time before I transferred to HPA to work on light emitting diodes.

I remember Ned as another John Young and Doug Chance, all cut from the same mold; analytical, bright, easy to work with. He, too, was very effective in product strategy work, which was where most of our new MBAs got assigned. It gave them a chance to virtually run their own "company" by managing a product line of maybe $20 million dollars. They created the future product strategies, defended the line against competition, devised the marketing and introduction plans, did the pricing analyses, created the training for field operations, and generally expanded their market share. All their work was done within the strength of a large, dominant merchant supplier of test equipment.

After several years in MWD as product marketing manager, Ned was promoted to Marketing Manager of the Santa Clara Division. This entailed a rather dramatic shift of the type of products and customers. I used to jokingly call financial managers the perfect "mercenaries," they were ready to pack up their process knowledge and move to another division, take up entirely new product lines, and use their past process experience to expand the new division. Marketing's MBAs tended to be just as mobile.

In the late 1980s, the Stanford Park Division was again ready to split and move out some products, in this case, products with frequency ranges below 1000 MHz. That included the booming cellular and mobile communications market, and the specialized test sets and automated comms test systems that SPD had introduced. The decision was made to move the new communications division out to the eastern edge of Washington, to Spokane. Ned was promoted to General Manager of the Spokane Division and spent five years there bringing the HP culture to that remote location. In five years, when he left in 1985, the division had grown to 1000 employees.

The challenges entailed in moving a division to a new city for managers like Barnholt and Chance were often overlooked, I think.This was MUCH MORE than just hiring people and calming the city fathers when they foresaw a huge impact of traffic and "carpet-baggers" who didn't understand the cultures of their city. It involved a lot of community relations, serving on civic committees, Chamber of Commerce activities, and all of that associated work.

I later watched Ned's progress during those years when he returned from Spokane to take on increasingly important central management of the Test and Measurement part of HP. And then I was particularly proud to see how he took control of the massive job of spinning off the Agilent Technologies segment of test and measurement when HP management decided that the company's product lines must be split. The huge effort required to divide a company of almost $8 billion revenues and a culture that was bound together was enormous. Just imagine all the considerations of financial, assets, human resources, employees, IT, systems, inventories, and a dozen other issues.

Ned took over as CEO less than one year before the crisis of the economic bust, soon finding that the Agilent company was saddled with WAY TOO MANY people. His true management skills came out at the launch of Agilent which came at a time when the company found itself with a HUGE backlog of orders. These resulted from a breakout in two robust market and technology sectors. For the wireless communications sector the cellular revolution was sweeping the land.

The equally-robust and booming fiber-optic business was driving that industry to lay fiber all over the US and under the oceans. Regretfully, much of that capacity turned out to be something called "black fiber," meaning that maybe 90% of all of it installed was never connected on due to a staggering over-capacity. I recall the times when Agilent was struggling under order backlogs of 6-9 months, with customers crying for deliveries, and our divisions working desperately to ramp up production.

Alas, it all collapsed into dust when the economic burst and orders went away, with many divisions discovering that customers had been double and triple ordering to assure that their deliver quotes would be met. Those ordering tricks previously had been only seen in the semi-conductor parts business.

So when the bust came, not only did current orders stop, but large amounts of previous orders were cancelled or abandoned. Thus a company must deal with a huge amount of over capacity in production and people. The retrenchments at Agilent were wrenching, layoffs personally devastating, and the attempts to keep Agilent from financial disaster certainly stressed all the fine objectives and cultures of Dave and Bill. Thousands of loyal employees were released, top management was put to the test.

I believe that Ned handled all that business turmoil about as well as anyone I know could have done. He kept a certain humanity and rational approach to the problems. He made strategic decisions on product lines and facilities well. I found a good reference to Ned's own reminiscences in the Barnholt oral history taken for the magazine Computerworld Honors program, and available on the Internet.


Ross Snyder

I missed Ross in my HP personalities chapter of the early revisions of this narrative, as I missed a number of other people and their stories. But in the two-year interim, as I have gotten literally dozens of comments and suggestions plus a few corrections, I discovered a bit more to qualify Ross for an interesting character of HP history.

In the 60's, the product division's marketing staffs worked through central groups in the corporate offices to accomplish our product advertising and technical publicity objectives. All of our new product and technical applications output was funneled through a professional PR wordsmith, Ross Snyder. As divisional contacts, Dean Abramson and myself had a long working experience with Ross, and we always found him the consummate PR man.

Ross had previously worked at Ampex Corp in Redwood City during its post WWII days of great product innovation. These were the years of the early video recorders that created a huge new paradigm in broadcast television. I recall that one of our technical seminar lectures during my 1957 Stanford master's program was given by the project manager from Ampex whose group had just introduced the new video recording machine, using cross-scan and 2-inch wide tape.

At HP, Ross was a workhorse of publicity output. His demeanor was self-effacing, almost to a fault. We who knew him well, always thought that he never took enough credit for superb word-smithing of our PR output. The procedure was that the divisions would write the product or application release, then Ross would edit or re-write as needed. His abilities for professional composition were legend. And in his personal presentation, he was the gentlemen's gentleman. His relations with the global trade magazine editors were the highest, and you could tell it when watching such interactions at places like trade shows or conferences. The editors all respected him, and in turn, HP and further in turn, our divisions and products.

Ross made us all proud of our connections with HP. When editors visited the HP factory in Palo Alto, since there were only a couple of manufacturing divisions left in town, we in the Microwave Division would often get called to give a factory tour for the visitor. In all the 25 years that I knew Ross professionally at HP, I never knew his real background, until long after he retired from HP in about 1985.

His history came out about 2004, when I contacted him to report on the medical condition of an old associate of his, Harry Lewenstein. Harry had worked with all of us at HP, but had ended paraplegic due to a bike accident in Portugal in the early 2000s. In the process I visited Ross at his home in Woodside, where he was aging gracefully, with the usual medical infirmities. It should be noted that in his prime, Ross enjoyed gourmet food, fine restaurants, and boasted a huge wine cellar. In fact, he made annual treks to the wine region of France each Spring to re-stock his cellar.

In long conversations with Ross at his home, out came the stories of his work in WWII. This mild-mannered man, in all those decades I knew him, had never told anyone at HP that I was aware of, that he was an aircraft commander of a B-29 during WWII. He flew out of Guam on missions over Japan, and told stories that curled my hair. He accomplished 35 missions, earned 7 air medals, including 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses. What an amazing revelation! Most of those missions took place before the U.S. captured Okinawa at great human cost. That operation ensured close-in airstrips for the swarms of B-29s that were clobbering Japan's industry night and day.

Missions from Guam were 14 hours long. If you lost one of your 4 engines, your return to base was problematical. And losing 2 was personal disaster dunking into the Pacific. Bomb loads and fuel calculations were tricky. Ross bragged about his flight engineer who could nurse those 4 Wright 3350 engines at full power when needed or be miserly on fuel when that was low. They were not very reliable. Hundreds of aircraft took part in those daily raids.

One interesting sidelight was a story Ross told of requesting a gallon of silver polish from one of his friends in the states. He put his ground crew to work on polishing the aluminum of the whole fuselage and wing's structures. The upshot was that his aircraft flew about 10 knots faster, which apparently made just enough of a speed difference in their bomb runs that it upset the mechanical calculations of the anti-aircraft gunners in Japan. He thinks it had something to do with their better survivability. It also gave them increased margin in fuel management for those long flight times.

But, you can guess that I was just stunned to find out the untold history of Ross. Never in a thousand years would I have guessed this brave man's contributions to WWII. Even Dave Kirby, who was Ross's direct supervisor for a decade told me that HE didn't know of Ross's WWII history.The website for the USAF B-29 groups that flew over Japan show all these young men, under their crushed officer hats, grouped under their aircraft. So many never came home. It was a statistical thing, you flew knowing the odds each mission and each day.

In the immediate post WWII, I can recall flying the 4-engine Lockheed Constellations or the DC-4s or DC-6s for cross-country trips before jets. They roared and vibrated and at the end of an 8 hour cross-country flight, you were just as fatigued as if you ran 20 miles. Imagine doing that day after day, with the very real danger of dying in the ocean, with no possibility of rescue.

I salute all those intrepid airmen of WWII, who were mostly like Ross, silent about their accomplishments in the face of personal danger.

Around 2006, I asked Ross to join me on a day trip to Castle AFB in Merced, because I wanted him to walk with me around the aircraft museum and share some of his experiences. The base is closed now, but there are still about 50 of those old warbirds on display, from WWII bombers, freighters and fighters to the B-36, 47 and 52. There is even a nasty looking SR-71, displayed out front. We started with the B-17 which he had trained in, it had engines made by one of the two major manufacturers, Pratt-Whitney I think, but those engines were "bulletproof" and never stopped running.

As he stood by the B-29, he recalled their continuous problems with those 3800 hp Curtiss-Wright R-3350 engines, 2 ranks of cylinders, and a lot of parts made of magnesium, not the best material for fire. The superchargers were unreliable yet they had to be used at high altitude. The B-29 featured a new K-band radar which allowed them to fly high and bomb with modestly good precision through bad weather.

It was a day I will never forget. Ross died on New Years Day, 2008.


Cathi Merigold

For decades, HP management was a bastion of white, male, engineers. In the 1970's, serious attempts were made to widen the reach for women engineers, using our huge college recruiting efforts. Women engineers were always hard to find, but they were there, if you tried hard enough.

Cathi joined Stanford Park Division marketing, in the mid-1970's. She was a bright, energetic individual, who came to be interested in recruiting more women engineers. The microwave arena was a mostly male redoubt, partly because it was an OLD division, with mostly-older engineers, left over from the founding of that charter division in 1962. Due to outside pressure, the R&D lab had worked for some years, to increase their content of women engineers, and had gotten the count up to about 6.

After a few years of exemplary work, Cathi was selected to transfer to the European Marketing Center in Amsterdam, to promote the microwave product line. After about 3-4 years of excellent performance there, with good reports from abroad, Cathi rejoined the SPD marketing. But, to her dismay, she found on her return that ALL SIX of the women engineers in the lab had left the division, some transferred to other HP positions, and the rest had left the company.

Cathi felt strongly enough about that news, to actually take her own time to track down and interview all 6 of the women who left. What she found was not pretty, they all complained of an obvious lack of concern in R&D management, as well as other staff members, to take women engineers seriously. For some, the management environment was on its way to being hostile. So Cathi assembled the information, and asked for a meeting of the division management team, to present her interview data. It showed that something was clearly wrong.

The upshot of the response was that the division realized that, although all newly-hired engineers, women and men, were assigned a personal mentor, it seemed that women engineers approaching the RF/microwave technology were at a disadvantage. This turned out to be true because most of them didn't have the personal experience of young men. Men were more comfortable with fixing an auto engine, or soldering up a home audio system, or home shop activities. And, since a lot of microwave involved mechanical fixtures and fabrication, the women were considered, by other peers, as being behind in mechanical skills.

The result was a novel program, whereby all new engineers were assigned two mentors, a personal one and a technical mentor. In this way, the new hire could follow the senior engineer around for a couple weeks, and see the activities needed, in the model shop, in the production area, and actually get their hands on a soldering iron, and a drill press. The new program seemed to help, and soon there were more women joining the MWD. However, to be honest, women engineers made far better progress in other areas of the corporation, computers and printers and other more consumer product areas.

There is a heartening denouement to Cathi's career. In 1990, she left HP for the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, and thence moved into Venture Capital, founding Vista Ventures of Boulder, CO. When I had coffee with her several years ago in Palo Alto, she had just completed a sale of two of her ventures. One was sold to HP for $360 million and another to others for $180 million. Successful career, indeed!

A more sobering story

It was probably the late 1980's, when Division Manager Alan Seeley called an offsite management meeting for Half Moon Bay, for about 50 of the top and first line supervisors of the Stanford Park Division. As the meeting drew to a close on the second day, Al got up to summarize, and at the end asked if there were any subjects we missed. I got up and observed, by looking around, that in that whole room of 50, there were only 4 women. So I suggested that Al give an assignment to every functional manager, to take home an action item, that next year, he hire, mentor, promote, and bring with him one more woman manager or supervisor. That way, next year, we would have 9 women in the group meeting.

Al hesitated a bit, said something innocuous, and called for a coffee break. I moved over to the coffee table, and was joined by a few of the senior lab engineers, who promptly dropped the ceiling on me. "How dare you suggest that we set some sort of quota on their lab? Don't you realize that no one moves up in this organization, without earning it?" It was very hostile, and I must say that I was overwhelmed, because all of these were personal friends, who I had worked with, for decades, in some cases. But the opinions were widespread. It was disconcerting. But, in reality, not really a surprise. It was my own dose of reality of the lab culture, which the SPD women engineers had to face every day.

Finally, another disappointment

I heard this first-hand story from Gail Sweeny, another SPD woman marketing engineer. Gail had also transferred to the European Marketing Center, after a distinguished period in SPD marketing and production. During one of her new product training tours for one of our SPD instruments, in Scotland, she was presenting her talk to a crowd of about 50 FEs. At one point, she hesitated, and a comment from the back of the room shocked her, "Not bad for a woman!" Mild laughter. She proceeded, and again, a little later, the same comment. It became a running joke, but she finished finally to applause.

As soon as I heard the story, but several years later, I was furious. I immediately wrote the T&M Executive V.P. of the time, and encouraged him to find who was the senior HP official at that training session, give him a chance to defend himself, and then demote him. I felt that actions like a demotion were the only way to make a point, and once the word gets around of what happened, and HP's intolerance for such behavior, the sooner things would change. Everyone knew that European cultural values were not kind to women, especially technical ones. To my disappointment, that V.P. never took any action, and I regret now that I didn't take the matter up higher in management.

I believe that later decades of HP found a more open atmosphere for women, although, in looking through the management ranks, even today, it is a disappointment to me. My observation has always been that I have seen what can happen when functional managers are given tough assignments. If an aggressive assignment was given, to add one woman manager per year, no excuses, believe me they would find a way to identify outstanding women, recruit and mentor them, and make them successful.

I am sorry I never had more management authority, because I would have put in more goals on results, no excuses. And I don't think that men's rights or opportunities would have been violated. It is just true, even today, that the high-tech business, from venture capital to the most far-out scientific research, is the domain of men. I believe this is because young woman are not recruited into science and math courses, in high schools. I do also believe that there is still something genetic in men, which makes such technology life work more interesting and challenging. Not for all men, and surely not for all women, which is why identifying and mentoring and recruiting of women is so vital.


Russ Riley

Russ was a brilliant engineer. He was one of the quietest men in the lab, but that just belied his analytic power. Russ became the "technical stress interviewer" on the factory recruiting teams, which hosted the day-long visits by college seniors, who came to the plants. His style was so subtle, that he never caused the candidates to worry, yet the team got a solid idea of how these young students would attack an unstructured problem. The theory was that you didn't have to compute an immediate answer to certain technical questions, but by asking the question in certain ways, you could determine the mental approach the student would use and that was often crucial to their later success.

Russ was also a committed audiophile. The San Francisco Symphony had a strict rule that NO tape recorders were allowed on the floor, during a performance, Russ constructed a recording system, with superior audio performance, but using a standard tape system, which he enhanced for higher frequencies and stereo. This could be carried in his suit coat. He found some high-performance microphones, which he arranged to hide inside his long hair, and carried behind his ears, which produced enough stereo separation to give good results.

The system worked, although I don't know how many times he used it, since at least I would have found it confining, to have to hold my head fairly stationary during the concert's music-on times. Russ allowed me to listen to his headphones of a performance, and I was blown away with the crispness and the stereo capabilities. It was just like being there in the front rows of the actual concert.

Russ was the kind of man who would always make himself available for less-intellectual engineers like myself. I could always count on him to offer half an hour, if I needed it for some sort of technical problem. He was more than a mentor, because he would usually derive the answer, starting from simpler principles, and that was always impressive.

Russ also had a playful streak. When their area of the engineering lab got too hot during the winter, the engineers were not permitted to adjust the thermostat. In fact, it was sealed shut. Russ's solution to that was simple. He hung an adjustable-heat generating resistor just under the temperature sensing gadget, and the hot air made the thermostat think it was getting hotter, so called for cooler air for that section of the lab. I don't think the facilities guys ever caught on to this simple, but clever, gimmick.




- End of Part 3 -

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