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Biography of David Packard

A childhood-

David Packard was born in crime ridden Pueblo, Colorado on Month, Day 1912 to a schoolteacher and lawyer. The town of Pueblo was, in 1912an industrial farm community with a steel mill and many foundries. The town was saturated with immigrant workers, gangsters and saloons.

Early in his life David had a love of science. He spent countless hours with the family World Book Encyclopedia reading up on every entry it had on natural sciences. Aside from this he also loved mechanical things like trains. He would build tiny models of such things in his back yard.

Soon after followed an avid interest in any type of explosive .

David filled the void of having lost his interest in explosives by developing an interest in radio. By the time he was twelve he had constructed a sophisticated radio receiver.

David Packard excelled in high school at Centennial high. He knew as much math as the teachers did well in science and studied hard in Latin. He was elected the president of his class all four years of high school, was chosen as the all state basketball center, in track won the high jump broad jump (now known as long jump),

Low hurdles, high hurdles and discus. This set an all time high record for the all state meet.

In 1929 David went for a tour of Stanford University. He was happy to discover that Stanford had an excellent electrical engineering program. He then applied in the spring of 1930 and was accepted - that was where he began his friendship with Bill Hewlett.

A Profitable Friendship-

David Packard and Bill Hewlett met in the fall of 1930. While David already knew that he wanted to be an electrical engineer, Bill hadn't made any definite career choices. After vacillating over a university major for a long while, Bill finally chose Electrical Engineering. He often said he chose this major because he liked model trains. Bill introduced David to another radio expert Ed Porter. Due to David and Ed's' similar interests they became fast friends. Bill also introduced David to Barney Oliver a man who, in the future would become one of their closest business companions.

All four of the friends graduated in 1934. Barney, Ed, Bill and David were making plans to start their own business in electronics when David was offered a job with General Electric. A professor and friend to David and Bill encouraged David to take the job because it was in the depression, and jobs were very scarce. The professors' name was Fred Terman. The men were forced to set aside their plans.

When David started his job at General Electric he was set to work in the testing department . David found the work dull and monotonous so set out to find one on his own. He soon found a position in the radio transmitter department where equipment was being built for the army. This did not satisfy his need for a challenge either so again, he went job hunting. He finally found a challenging position in the Vacuum- tube-engineering department. In 1936 GE let out many of its' work shifts early- at three in the afternoon. This allowed David enough time to join the local professional Basketball team. Though it didn't pay very well it was still one extra job- a job that he enjoyed.

In 1937 David drove across the country to see his girlfriend Lucile and to attend the first official "business meeting" of him and Bill . In that meeting the discussed producing a number of products including high- frequency receivers and medical equipment.

In 1938 David and Lucile got married, David did not want to lose his job at GE so he took a Friday off on which to get married, spent his honeymoon in Montreal over the weekend and returned for work on Monday. Later that year David was hired to help a young Stanford inventor. He took an unpaid leave of absence and him and his wife drove back to California. By June 1939 David had resigned from GE. Being back in California meant that David could finally resume his business plans. Bill found a two-story house that David and his wife could rent while bill lived in a building in the back. The separate one car garage became the workshop of Hewlett Packard .

The two men found yet another business partner Charlie Litton of Litton Laboratories.

Charlie Litton had developed a new type of oil for his new Vacuum pumps. In 1939 when President Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard "established an enterprise to produce atomic explosion using uranium fission. "

This project needed a large quantity of low vapor oil. So, they hired Charlie. That was the end of Charlie's business with David and Bill.

The men were having a hard time deciding what to manufacture. They got lots of outside advice from friends and mentors. The men's' first real invention was a device that enable the telescope atop Mount Hamilton to track accurately. Next came a special device that "indicated a foul line roll " for the nearby bowling alley. Well this kind of odd job work was not building a company, it certainly was assuring both men of their skills and giving them practice perfecting them. None of the projects that the men constructed made the pair a lot of money, but they were driven on by the thought of one of their small inventions becoming something that they could eventually sell.

Later in 1939 the men drew up a partnership contract. At that same time they decided to change . Each of the partners brought specialized equipment into the business, the equipment that would construct the first ever Hewlett Packard product.

That first product was of Bill Hewletts' design. He had first experimented with the idea back in college in Professor Fred Termans lab. What he invented was the very first cheap way of "generating high quality audio frequencies needed in communications, geophysics, medicine and defense work ". It was known as the audio oscillator. Bill took this new invention to a Radio Engineers conference there he got an excellent response. After that he and David decided to build the oscillator commercially. They took photographs of the machine and David made 25 copies a two page brochure. This brochure was given to a list of prospective buyers that Professor Terman had supplied them with. The oscillator was a huge success.

Hundreds of Hewlett Packard products have followed in the steps of the oscillator as the small garage business has grown into one of the worlds leading powers in computer equipment but this has not come without the sacrifices of David and Bill.

David died in 1997 at the age of 84.  He lived in Los Altos Hills, California and chaired the emeritus of Hewlett Packard Company, Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and was president of The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. He wasa trustee of The Herbert Hoover Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute and The Hoover Institution.  All,near the time of his death.


David Packard 1912-1996
The site ofthe death realease of David Packard.  Good information.

David Packard co promulgator of the H-P way
A good overall biography of David Packard.

David Packard HP Cofounder dies at 83
A very good newspaper article.  Very informative.