HP History

history of Hewlett Packard company.
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  cover story AGILENT/HP MICROWAVES & RF 35 AUGUST 2001 Garage Gives Birth To Measurement Giant The story of Hewlett-Packard Co., and subsequentlyAgilent Technologies, is a capsule history of test-and-measurement techniques and equipment forthe microwave industry. eginning in 1939 with only $538—an amount that todaybarely covers a month’s electric bill in Palo Alto, CA—BillHewlett and Dave Packard started a company in thegarage behind the home they shared at 367 Addison Rd.These two Stanford University graduates were responsi-ble not only for starting a test-and-measurement techno-logical revolution, but for a business philosophy that has JOHN L. MINCK Consultant 642 Towle Pl., Palo Alto, CA94306-2535; (510) 493-3955. BARRYMANZ Presidentt Manz Communications, Inc.,350 Main Rd., Montville, NJ07045; (973) 316-0999, been taken to heart by Silicon Valley’s most accomplishedcompanies. And it is comforting to remember that RF and microwave tech-nology was HP’s primary driver for more than 25 years, and thatthis technology and the HP philosophy live on today, in theform of Agilent Technologies. The story of HP’s foray into microwave technology, and thedevelopment of its RF and microwave products have been chron-icled less frequently than the story of how Walt Disney provid-ed the company with its first big boost by ordering eight of its model200B audio oscillators for use in the film Fantasia. Or the storyof how Packard created management by walking around, oreven the story of the role played by Stanford professor FrederickTerman in shaping the HP Way and his vision of an electron-ics industry knowledge center in the Valley. Nevertheless, that foray b       |    A   G   I   L   E   N   T   /   H   P       | and its subsequent developments wereevery bit as important for the US econ-omy, for the tens of thousands of peo-ple who participated in them, and for whatthe microwave industry has becometoday. The company’s entry into the RFand microwave instrumentation mar-ketplace came about gradually. Soon afterthe company's founding in 1939 (Fig.1), Hewlett entered the US Army SignalCorps for technical assignments in radarat Ft. Monmouth, NJ. Packard remainedin Palo Alto, managing the fledglingcompany and its wartime productionoperation. The company’s entire prod-uct line consisted of the 200A audiooscillator, the 400A voltmeter, an audiosignal analyzer, and some crystal-sta-bilized frequency standards. The company produced its first RFmeasurement product in 1943. TheModel A signal generator covered 500to 1350 MHz, and was designed for theUS Navy. A commercial version, the610A ultra-high-frequency (UHF) sig-nal generator, was introduced in 1948.In the late 1940s, Varian Associates,founded in Palo Alto by Russell andSigurd Varian, inventors of the klystrontube, offered HP a small line of waveg-uide test equipment. The Varian broth-ers felt that development of the linewould detract from their tube business.The product line consisted of somewaveguide slotted lines and other com-ponents such as directional couplers.In the same period, the US NavalResearch Laboratory contracted withHP to design klystron signal genera-tors, which led to a commercial prod-uct, the 616A signal generator, withcoverage to 4.2 GHz. It was followedby generators working to 21 GHz. By 1950, the product line had grownto include the 430A power meter anda double-tuned 475 bolometer sensor.Other innovations expanded the HPline of coaxial equipment, such as the805A parallel-slab slotted line, whichcleverly constrained the RF fields most-ly at the side walls, and effectively madethe 3/4-in. (1.91-cm) open-slot func-tion as a slot only a few thousands ofan inch wide. Part of the reasonfor HP's continuedattention tomicrowaveresearch wasHewlett’srecruiting ofseveral engi-neers fromwartimeresearch facil-ities on the EastCoast (Fig. 2). Several of theseengineers would ulti-mately become primaryparticipants in the com-pany’s future. Bruce Who-ley, who later advancedto Microwave DivisionManager in 1962, camefrom Terman's RadioResearch Lab at Harvard,working in electronicscountermeasures. Art Fonghad been working in radar at MIT’sRadiation Lab.From the early days of thermistorpower sensors, HP heeded the cry fora thermistor sensor that would notrespond to the warmth of the humanhand, introducing the 431A tempera-ture-compensated power meter in 1961. When Hewlett was setting up Euro-pean distribution for this product, hebought the patent rights to a novelnoise-figure measurement concept fromthe Swedish company Magnetic AB.This led, in 1958, to the 340A noise-fig-ure meter. Later, the 524B frequencycounter, with its plug-in versatility,launched HP into the frequency andtime business. By the mid 1950s, the proliferationof product lines was creating problemsin managing different product and busi-ness strategies. To provide more spe-cialization, the corporate research-and-development (R&D) lab was divided in1958 into four product groups: audio-video, frequency and time, microwave,and oscilloscopes. Total worldwidebusiness in 1959 was $47.7 million,and HP’s 165-page catalog that yearboasted 150 products.Focusing on indi-vidual product linesin the design labsworked well,and by 1962the company'ssales hadgrown to$109 million.Manufactur-ing operationsexpanded toEurope and Col-orado, and severaltechnology-companyacquisitions were made.This reorganizationcontinued in 1962, as thefour major product linesbecame full operating divi-sions, of which themicrowave division wasone. Bruce Wholey wasnamed general manager,but soon acquired otherresponsibilities.In 1964, John Young became divi-sion manager of the microwave division,and filled out his management teamwith John Doyle in manufacturing andPaul Ely in R&D. John Minck becamemarketing manager. Ely was alreadyknown for his microwave managementexperience at Sperry Microwave inFlorida. Young managed the MicrowaveDivision for approximately six years,and then progressed through various vice-presidential positions to become thecompany’s CEO in the 1980s. The Microwave Division hit its stridein the 1960s, and its new product lineschanged the face of microwave mea-surements. In 1964, the Model 8551 spec-trum analyzer put HP into the spec-trum-analyzer market and, in the process,expanded the market five-fold, since itmade measurements in ranges that pre-vious analyzers could not reach.In 1968, the 8410 vector-network-analyzer (VNA) product line revolu-tionized microwave-component designwith the concept of characterizing thescattering parameters of test devices.The project’s slogan was stamp out slot-ted lines. Major accomplishments MICROWAVES & RF 36 AUGUST 2001 coverstory 1. The starting placefor a multibillion-dollarinternational companywas a simple garagein Palo Alto.  coverstory        |    A   G   I   L   E   N   T   /   H   P       |  Enter NO. 447at were also made in signal generators,sweepers, power meters, and mea-surement components.A crucial element of HP’s successwas a management innovation startedby the Microwave Division in the mid-1960s. This was the now well-accept-ed triad management concept, whichfocused three-person teams from mar-keting, R&D, and production-on-prod-uct planning. Those product teams,consisting of young engineers, devisedproduct strategies based on their com-bined knowledge of the market, appli-cations, and technology, and thenpresented the strategy to division man-agement for approval.This approach contrasted with thestrategy of many companies of thattime, which created product plans froma central planning group. The genius ofthe arrangement was that the best cre-ative ability of all team members wasused, while also employing the insightof the company's marketing and busi-ness upper management during thereviews. Many of those young teammembers of the 1960s went on to be-come division and executive managers throughout the corporation.HP has contributed heavily to thedevelopment of new technologies, mostof which have found their way into thecompany’s products. The step-recoverydiode was one of HP’s more importantcontributions to signal synthesis. In theearly 1960s, engineer Frank Boff wasworking on harmonic-comb genera-tors to extend the range of counter fre-quency converters. One circuit showednonintuitive results, with high-frequencyharmonics that were more powerfulthan what seemed theoretically possi-ble from a nonlinear resistive devicesuch as a diode.To investigate further, he borrowedan early lab prototype of the HP sam-pling oscilloscope to display a time-domain picture of what was producingsuch rich signals in the frequency-domain. When Boff finally got the fuzzypicture focused, he did not see theexpected chopped-off top of a sine waveproduced by a diode, but rather, hesaw a sine wave that rose smoothly toapproximately full amplitude, then sud-denly crashed to near-zero amplitude.At that point, serendipity enteredthe scene. Boff remembered seeing apaper in the IEEE Proceedings  whichtheorized that this waveform mightexist if a device exhibited a nonlinearcharge-versus-voltage curve instead ofthe nonlinear current-versus-voltagecurve that defined a diode. Boff reviewedthe article, looked again at the strangewave shape, and proclaimed that whathe had taken to be a nonlinear resistoror diode was actually a nonlinear capac-itor under certain conditions.What he had developed was a vari-ation of the well-known P-N diode that MICROWAVES & RF 38 AUGUST 2001       |    A   G   I   L   E   N   T   /   H   P       | enhanced the storedcarrier phenomenonand achieved anabrupt transition fromreverse-storage con-duction to cutoff. Thedevice was able toswitch tens of voltsor hundreds of mil-liamps in less than ananosecond. The re-sult was the ability togenerate milliwatts ofharmonic power at10 GHz from stableoscillators running at200 MHz. The devicewas called the Boff diode for a number of years, and later changedto the more generic step-recovery-diode. HP capitalized on this new capabil-ity. HP counters used the harmonic-comb signals to downconvert test sig-nals for counter coverage to 18 GHz.The 8410 series network analyzer useda two-channel version to downconvertmicrowave signals for characterizingS-parameters to 18 GHz. Samplingoscilloscopes used the diode to gener-ate the large sampling impulses need-ed to measure transitions in the picosec-ond range. A generation of HP signalgenerators and sweepers used thoseharmonics to stabilize microwave sig-nals, via indirect frequency synthesis.HP also became the world leader inexploiting a family of sophisticated feed-back loops, using synthesis techniquessuch as programmable divide-by-N loops. Not only did they disciplinemicrowave oscillators and reduce theirphase noise, they provided exact andprogrammable output frequencies.Another variation of the P-N diodewas the PIN version, which acted atlow frequencies like a regular diode,but at RF/microwave frequencies sim-ilar to a programmable microwave re-sistor. This became the centerpoint forbroadband control of signal amplitudesfor leveling loops, and for a pulse gen-erator with nanosecond rise and falltimes.HP also pioneered the developmentof sophisticated phase-locked loops(PLLs), which were optimized for fastswitching, high stability, and spectralpurity for extremely-low single-side-band (SSB) phase noise. It was a never-ending quest, and HP later designedspecific instruments for characterizingSSB phase noise, as well as analysis ofloop gain and stability.The 40-year history of Microwaves & RF  magazine coincides with a peri-od of enormous advancement in testand measurement. The contributions ofHP were large and broad, as were thecontributions of the people who broughtthem to fruition.The distinction between signal gen-erators, sources, and sweepers (or swept-signal generators) always seemed toconfuse customers. Signal generatorswere intended for signal simulation,carrying modulation such as amplitudemodulation (AM)/frequency modula-tion (FM)/pulse, and later phase and dig-ital modulation. Later, in wireless testsets, the modulation would include theentire system of handshakes, proto-cols, and other functions. In contrast,sources were pure continuous-wave(CW) oscillators, generally withoutmodulation, used forgeneral-purpose andbridge drivers. Sweep-ers allowed the signalto be swept over arange of frequencies,and have been domi-nant in componentdesign. In recentdecades, with thepower of micropro-cessors, the distinc-tion between the basictypes blurred as instru-ments were createdthat could performmultiple tasks.Probably the most pop-ular signal generator of the 1950s and1960s was the 608C/D family. HP builttens of thousands of these very-high-fre-quency (VHF) instruments, and their vac-uum-tube oscillators and power ampli-fiers (PAs) provided superior spectralpurity and stability. Their semicon-ductor replacements, the 8640A/B of1973, had cavity purity, with phaselocking and a frequency counter.What went unsaid was the superior-ity of vacuum tubes, including klystrons,for signal generation. The oscillator volt-ages of those tuned tank circuits or cav-ities provided outstanding signal-to-noise characteristics that took years forsolid-state generators to match. Yet, theoperating advantages of microwave tran-sistors and yttrium-iron-garnet (YIG)-tunedoscillators in reliability and size weretoo much to resist, and after much devel-opment, methods such as phase-lock-ing greatly improved spectral purity.In its transition into synthesizer tech-nology, HP found a way to stabilizePLLs with a VHF instrument, the 8708A.It was used to discipline and add nar-rowband FM to the 608E/F. However,the first integrated indirect synthesizedsignal generator was the 8660A unveiledin 1971, with versatile plug-ins thatallowed its owner to choose from manymodulation formats and frequencybands to 2.6 GHz. It was also pro-grammable. The microwave synthe-sizer that revolutionized automated testsystems with its general-purpose -inter- MICROWAVES & RF 40 AUGUST 2001 coverstory 2. The founders of Hewlett-Packard Co.,Dave Packard (seated) and Bill Hewlett,worked with very little operating capitalbut quickly built a giant test and mea-surement business.
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