History Of Hewlett Packard Printers

The history of Hewlett-Packard printers is a long story dating back to 1939, where the company was founded in a garage in Palo Alto, California with $538 in capital, split between cash and a used drill press.

The founding partners, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, were good friends who met when they were classmates at Stanford University, both completing a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1935.

Bill and Dave were two opportunistic people who did not have a business plan in place, but who both knew they wanted to be in business together. They tried their hand at several different products such as a bowling alley foul-line indicator, a device to make a urinal flush automatically, a clock drive for a telescope, and a shock machine designed to help people lose weight, before settling on some of the products we know HP for today,


HP’s First Project

In 1938, one year before the company became an official partnership, Bill and Dave produced their first product. It was a resistance-capacitance audio oscillator, which is a device used for testing sound equipment. They named it HP Model 200A.


HP’s First Customer

Before the company or partnership was even official, they had their first customer. Also in 1938, Walt Disney purchased eight HP Model 200B devices from the friends in order to prepare movie theatres to show the movie, Fantasia.

As early as 1940, Hewlett-Packard was already giving out employee Christmas bonuses, making their first charitable donation, and setting up a production bonus program. The same year, Hewlett-Packard moved out of the garage they were operating from and rented a building, still in Palo Alto.

In 1943, Hewlett-Packard entered the field of microwave ovens with an audio signal generator, another of their many products. The company was steadily progressing and looking for their niche.

In 1947, Hewlett Packard incorporated. Nine years later, HP releases their most recent invention, oscilloscopes, in 1956. These devices measure the voltage and frequency of an electric signal, and they are a significant player in HP’s test and measurement product line.

HP went public the next year, in 1957, with the shares selling for $16 each. Any employee with over six months of service received company grant stock, and offered participation in a stock options program.


The Beginning Of HP Printers and Computers

HP acquired F. L. Moseley Co. in 1958. Their first acquisition was a company producing high-quality graphic recorders, which laid the foundation for HP’s future printing business.

In 1962, Hewlett Packard made the Fortune 500 list, at #460.

The early 1960s were met with many inventions and company changes. HP continued making various products, one being the atomic clock in 1964.

HP made their first Hewlett-Packard computer in 1966, the HP 2116A. It was a very large machine designed to withstand extreme environments, making it usable anywhere. It was not until two years later that HP introduced their first “personal computer”, HP 9100A. It was more a desktop scientific calculator, but was the first documented time anyone had referred to anything as a personal computer.

In 1972, HP made their first handheld calculator, and entered the world of business computing with the HP 3000, focusing on distributed data processing. The year 1974 brought HP’s first mini-computer that used dynamic random access memory chips. The next year, HP’s global revenue beat its US revenue for the first time.

HP made the first wristwatch calculator and calendar accessory in 1977, and in 1980, they released their first personal computer, as we know personal computers today. HP-85 was capable of input and output, talking to other computers, and connecting with peripheral devices.

In 1982, HP released their first handheld computer. Able to connect to peripherals, HP-75C  was the first mobile-style computer model. The same year, they also released the HP-9000 mainframe computer. It was a smaller version of the room-size computers used in the 1960s, and just as powerful.

Still innovating in the computer market, HP released a touch screen computer, HP-150. By 1984, HP was at the top of the fortune 500 list and had released the first thermal inkjet printer, HP ThinkJet, as well as the first laser printer, HP LaserJet, which became the most popular desktop printer. In 1988, HP released the company’s first mass-marketed inkjet printer, the HP DeskJet. The company was well into their chosen niche by this time.

In 1991, HP released an affordable, revolutionary color printer, the HP DeskJet 500C. This same year, the company advanced portable computing with their HP 95LX Palmtop PC. This model was equipped with the same amount of computing power as the larger desktop models.

The year 1993 brought the first laptop-style computer, the HP OmniBook 300. HP had also shipped ten million laser printers by this year. The company was well into the computer and printer market, with high revenues and sales.

The next year, HP released the world’s first all-in-one device, which provided print, fax, and copy capabilities. Also in 1994, the company began a working relationship with Intel. They were developing a 64-bit microprocessor. By 1995, HP was into the home computing market with the HP Pavilion model, which resembles the look we are more accustomed to today.


The Historical Revenue and Employee Count

  • 1939 – 2 employees and $5,389.00 in revenue
  • 1942 – 8 employees and $522,803.00 in revenue
  • 1947 – 111 employees and $851,287.00 in revenue
  • 1951 – 215 employees and $5.5 million in revenue
  • 1958 – 1,778 employees and $28 million in revenue
  • 1962 – 6,260 employees and $110 million in revenue
  • 1966 – 11,309 employees and $203 million in revenue
  • 1969 – 15,840 employees and $326 million in revenue
  • 1973 – 28,255 employees and $661 million in revenue
  • 1977 – 35,062 employees and $1.4 billion in revenue
  • 1979 – 53,020 employees and $2.4 billion in revenue
  • 1982 – 69,538 employees and $4.3 billion in revenue
  • 1988 – 87,000 employees and $9.8 billion in revenue
  • 1993 – 96,000 employees and $26 billion in revenue
  • 1995 – 105,200 employees and $31.5 billion in revenue
  • 1999 – 84,000 employees and $42 billion in revenue
  • 2002 – 141,000 employees and $56.6 billion in revenue
  • 2004 – 150,000 employees and $80 billion in revenue
  • 2006 – 156,000 employees and $91.6 billion in revenue
  • 2007 – 172,000 employees and $104.3 billion in revenue
  • 2008 – 321,000 employees and $118.4 billion in revenue
  • 2010 – 324,600 employees and $126 billion in revenue


HP continues to improve the computer and printer market, each new breakthrough making computers and multifunctional devices faster, smaller, more affordable, or more in tune with other new technologies. They continue to be a Fortune 500 company, and the legacy of the two friends lives on in millions of homes and businesses all around the world.

For an interactive and more in-depth look at the history of HP printers, follow this link.