Publications of the 1950s

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The Hewlett Packard Journal


During the fifties the Hewlett Packard journal became a reference in the electronic industry. The publication was very regular during this decade. It was monthly most of the time but sometimes an issue would cover two or more months.The presentation would stay the same during these ten years. A light green top title, four to eight pages with some black and white photography or graphics and most of the time the contents were fully dedicated to the description of a new instrument.
The Hewlett Packard Journal was written by laboratory people for laboratory people. Articles were signed by engineers and product leaders who designed the instruments. These articles were written to promote the product and to give an accurate description of the method the designer followed to achieve the targeted performance.
Another reason that made the success of the journal was its constant objective to help other engineers in the electronic industry. Internally developed techniques were frequently published and demonstrated with a real contribution to all the electronic and scientific community.
A good example of such a contribution is shown below. The "TABLE OF IMPORTANT TRANSFORMS" was published in the November-December, 1953, issue. It was designed by Barney M.Oliver as a convenient short illustrated table giving a very practical graphic representation of the common time functions and their corresponding transforms. (such practical graphs were highly welcome in the lab, at a time when the wooden slide rule was the only help to make complex calculations).

These tables can be found also in the Application Note N°63, where they were inserted in appendix A.
PDF of the AN63 "Spectrum Analysis" is available here on the web site: Application Notes Listing

Part of Barney Oliver's Table of Important Transforms - Published in the Hewlett Packard Journal Volume 5 N° 3-4, Nov-Dec, 1953
Copy by Permission of the Hewlett-Packard Company



The Hewlett Packard Journal Aids Sales,

An interesting measure of the sales aid brought by the Hewlett Packard Journal is shown below. This example is dated ten years after its first issue. A full page advertisement in ELECTRONICS Magazine.

Advertising the Hewlett Packard Journal in ELECTRONICS Magazine - February 1959



Catalogs of the Fifties

Catalog publication was not annual during the fifties.

The best in-depth analysis of the HP catalogs edition has been done by Kenneth Kuhn and we highly recommend a visit to his web site to gain insight into the HP catalog story.

For the 1950s decade, our own catalog collection perfectly matches the Kenneth Kuhn listing.

Cover of the 1950 decade catalogs available in the collection



Application Notes:

Another HP contribution to the electronic industry

Publishing of Application Notes at HP began in the early fifties.

What are they?

Here is the definition given by HP in the introduction of its 1979, Application Notes Index:

"Many Hewlett-Packard engineers and customers have collaborated on these notes to pass their applications research and experience on to you. Some notes are tutorial in nature, while others describe very specific "How To" procedures. All HP application notes are designed to help you obtain maximum use of your Hewlett-Packard equipment."

Publication of Application Notes, sporadic at the beginning, would grow very quickly in the sixties with the multiplication of instruments and product lines. The Documentation Services would become a complete Company organization inside the Hewlett-Packard Company during the seventies.


Front page of an early Application Note edited in 1959
Copy by Permission of the Hewlett-Packard Company


Technical Datasheet

The technical datasheet is first of all a document published to help the sales people to inform their customers. Specific to one instrument, it describes the main characteristics, the various options, if any, and the accessories available for the best usage of the product. During the 50s the datasheet could be considered as a single instrument catalog, easy to send by post or to distribute to the visitors of an exhibition. In the beginning it was of cheap design and printing, but the datasheet would gain in quality during the 60s to become a luxurious publication for many products of the following decades. Datasheet of some star products like the 8568-66 in the 70s, or the 8510 in the 80s will be printed to the same level of quality as fashion magazines.


Front page of an early Technical Datasheet describing the HP 512A Frequency Converter, edited in 1954
Copy by Permission of the Hewlett-Packard Company


Page 83 of ELECTRONICS Magazine September 1955



Starting with a quarter page advertisement in November 1939, HP's advertising in ELECTRONICS became a monthly full page by the end of the forties and frequently double pages during the fifties.

HP's publicity frequently demonstrated the wide coverage of the product lines, clearly illustrating HP's will to respond to every electronic lab's needs.

The first sign of HP's growing concern for service and repair of its instruments is clearly shown in the September, 1955, "ELECTRONICS" Magazine full page publicity (right photo).










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