Old other HP products


Hello all

I read that at the time of the HP-35, Hewlett-Packard was a manufacturer of scientific instruments. But what kind of instruments ?
Is there somewhere a list of their productions ?

All the Best

Pierre Brial


I used to be a salesperson for the HP instrument group back in the late 70's. There was a huge range of instruments available. In fact the instrument business was HP's main activity, although sales of HP computers (1000 series, 3000 series etc)was rapidly catching up.

The instruments sold were signal generators, spectrum analysers, scopes, rf, microwave, DVMs, logic analysers, power supplies, and some strange items like atomic clocks, borehole loggers, surveying equipment, laser systems, process contol systems etc etc. The instrument catalogue was a huge book about 1 1/2" thick!

Hewlett and Packard started their business as manufacturers of instruments in 1939 and only expanded into other things like medical systems (now owned by Philips) in the 1960s. They also had an analytical insturments group and a components group, and of course the calculator group!

All HP instruments were taken by Agilent Technologies when this company was spun off by HP a few years ago.



In the 60's and 70's, HP was THE manufacturer of all sort of electronic test equipment: signal generators, frequency counters, oscilloscopes (but Tektronix was the acknowledged leader in this field), spectrum analyzers, frequency standards, power meters, volt/amp/ohm meters (originally analog, but digital, too) etc. Most with HPIB interface (for computer control and data access) A properly-equipped test and measurement lab had many shelf's worth of this stuff!

Every electronic engineer (real or imagined - I come closer to the latter) had the annually-issued HP catalog prominent on his bookshelf. This legendary hard cover book contained hundreds of pages of product description, as well as many technical notes and discussions of all sorts of matters relevant to the hardware that HP was selling. You NEVER threw one of these catalogs away - they contained so much useful information. I still have a dozen of them. Nowadays, I think they still issue the hardbound version, but you can also get the CD (for Agilent, of course - another monsterously stupid move by HP - they gave up decades of number one name brand recognition to pursue their computer addiction).


I remember that, as a student of Chemistry in University in the early 80's HP's gas chromatographs were state of the art. While my memory is foggy now, I recall that they incorporated some advanced features such as programmable oven set temperature for multiple temperatures, heat ramp up or down, integration of component concentrations, and a choice of which component column you wanted to utilize all via a keyboard interface. If I recall correctly, you could also select the type of carrier gas you wanted as well. The other thing it had built in was a printer that printed the concentration graphs, and broke out the components automatically.

While it may seem simplistic today, back then EVERYONE wanted to use the HP as it was the best and easiest lab instrument. Every other manufacturers required way too much work to get a useful result from. I also recall feeling proud about setting my HP on top of the HP-GC. (I know, I know - a little brand showoff). Other students knew that the HP calculator was made by the same company who produced some real world instrumentation.



A good source for information on old HP scientific instruments is the Scientific American Magazine. HP ads in that magazine were a pleasure to read. Here in Brazil many university libraries keep all the issues since the 60s.

If you don´t find it there, please tell me what you want, and I´ll look for them at Unicamp when i can (it may take sometime...), scan and email you.



Thank you all very much for these informations. Thank you Renato for your proposal, but I don't want to bother you with this. There is some "Scientific American" in my local university library so I will have a look.
Then my next deal is to find the famous HP catalog !
All the Best


Try browsing through the HP Virtual Museum on this page...


You will find lots of information there.


Gordon; I just looked around that link and i noticed two omisions:

They didn't mention the very popular 48 series but did feature the 49. I wonder if this means that the 48 is now "calculadora non grata".

They also blew off HP's impressive line of surveying instruments. The 3800 distance meter was a groundbreaking unit and was still being used in the 90's when someone wanted a long distance measured. The 3820 was the worlds best surveying instrument for about eight years running, till Wild of Switzerland came out with the T2000 - long after HP had gone on to other things.

I can see why they covered the 41 but did not mention that tens of thousands of us are still using it, 24 years after it's introduction, while we wait for the "something better" that they will no longer "invent". HP sure is proud of evry little throw away computer and printer though.


I agree the site is far from complete. What is there is good, except for some disappointing pictures of tatty poor condition samples of the calculators!

HP should be encouraged to add many more of the missing items...


"HP should be encouraged to add many more of the missing items..." ....or just post a link to http://www.hpmuseum.org

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