Calculator Manufacturing Locations



#9

I'm an HP owner (HP-35, HP-41C, HP-16C all bought new). I am doing a paper on HP and it's R&D Management. I am looking for information on when and where manufacture of the calculators moved overseas.

I've looked over the pages on serial numbers, doesn't really help. If you've got early examples of models made in Malaysia or Singapore (for example) and can help me date when production was moved there, I'd appreciate knowing this information.

What I am doing is using the calculator as the product that expanded HP's market and production from being a small US based company to being the international giant it is today.


#10

Quote:
What I am doing is using the calculator as the product that expanded HP's market and production from being a small US based company to being the international giant it is today.


If your thesis is that HP calculators drove the growth of HP into a multi-national business, I don't believe you'll find the data to support it.

HP was already an international company, both in terms of product development and manufacture, before they made any calculators.
For example, their South Queensferry division opened in Scotland around 1960, I believe Boeblingen in Germany was around the same time.

While the calculator division was important to HP, it was never the tail that wagged the HP dog in the way that printers did.

At its height, the calculator division shared three buildings at their Corvallis site with other divisions such as NID (the Northwest IC Division). I believe there are now eight buildings on that site, pretty much all doing the inkjet printer stuff that was first developed there.

I also believe that the non-US manufacturing facilities used by the calculator division, such as Singapore and Brazil, were used by many parts of HP, and were never created for calculators alone; I could be wrong about this, though.


#11

The idea is that until the calculator, HP was a small volume test and measurement company. Calculator sales drove them to be a global operation.

Until 1972, I don't find many references to overseas offices. I am told that HP Labs did not open an office out of the US until 1984, and that was Bristol UK.

If those earlier locations were manufacturing, then I've got some work to find out more about them. If they were R&D, then that conflicts with another source.

My 1973 HP-35 manual only offers the California location for service, my 1982 HP-16C manual shows 13 European locations for service.

What I am interested in is when manufacturing globalized. I was thinking that as the first volume product, the calculator changed HP into a global organization that easily became a PC company, it was already making desktops before anyone else.

It is not a thesis anyway. It'll be seem by one professor. Smart guy though.


#12

Quote:
I was thinking that as the first volume product, the calculator changed HP into a global organization that easily became a PC company, it was already making desktops before anyone else.

You will not find the evidence to support that one, either.

Hewlett-Packard was actually very late to the game in desktop PC's. True, they had their own desktop versions (HP85,HP110,HP150 etc) but these were not true PC's by the 1981 IBM standard. It wasn't until the original 8 mhz 8086 Vectra appeared that they had a somewhat PC compatible product. Built like a tank and just as heavy, the top of the line came with an EGA video card and very non-standard HP custom IL keyboard. I think it was somewhere around 1985, I don't remember for sure but I'm sure somebody will know! Point is, they were *very* slow to get on the PC bandwagon due to internal inertia. This was in part due to the fact that they did very little outsourcing - which slowed the whole path to market.

When they did finally start outsourcing their PC's beginning with the Kayak in about 1995, it was such a mess (device drivers being the biggest problem) that they lost significant PC market share to Dell.

To second Frank's post, take a look to printers to see what really happened, calculators in comparison were just a drop in the corporate bucket.

Edited: 15 Oct 2006, 5:31 p.m.

#13

Quote:
The idea is that until the calculator, HP was a small volume test and measurement company.

Except it wasn't. According to this Potted history of Agilent, by 1970 HP already had 16,000 employees, and manufacturing operations in Europe. Note that they went to the Europe before they went to any U.S. state beyond California, and years before HP Labs even existed.

Quote:
Until 1972, I don't find many references to overseas offices. I am told that HP Labs did not open an office out of the US until 1984, and that was Bristol UK. ... If those earlier locations were manufacturing, then I've got some work to find out more about them. If they were R&D, then that conflicts with another source.

Most HP R&D was done in the individual product divisions, not at HP Labs, so their relatively late overseas growth doesn't mean much.

More specifically, all the HP calculator-related inventions I'm aware of were made at Corvallis, or its fore-runner, the Advanced Products Group in Cupertino, not HP Labs.

Quote:
I was thinking that as the first volume product...

In manufacturing terms, HP had many volume products before calcs, from electronic components to medical equipment.

Quote:
...the calculator changed HP into a global organization that easily became a PC company,

Wouldn't that require the calculator division somehow giving birth to the PC division? They were poles apart organizationally, and couldn't have had less to do with one another if they'd been in different companies.

Quote:
it was already making desktops before anyone else.

I actually have no idea what you mean by this; the closest the calculator people got to a desktop computer system was the HP-85, but that came to market years after things like the Apple II or TRS-80. It also came to market years after HP's own 9845, made by HP's other calculator division in Colorado.

And the HP-85 certainly didn't lead HP to a dominant position in desktop systems, in part because the divisions tasked with business systems and desktop systems didn't create it, and had other misguided ideas, such as the HP 150.

Perhaps you could read 'The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I built our company' by David Packard (from which the Agilent timeline is taken). It might help you to see the relatively small part the calculator division played in HP's growth, despite its importance to those of us in these parts.

#14

Steve…

From what I remember, the HP-35 was HP's first "commercial" product, as opposed to "institutional" product. That is, this was their first product designed for the individual and advertised for the individual. When I was in 9th grade (early 1970s), I had the oppotunity to play with one of HP's desktop "computers" (I don't remember the model, but it had +, -, x, /, and sqroot plus several hundred lines of program space). Even though it was at the bottom of the computer totem pole, it was intended for institutional, not individual, purchase.

What HP gained from the HP-35 and subsequent calculators was significantly increased name recognition, at least within the technical and financial communities. Laser printers made HP a truly household name.

#15

As you will notice on this pic:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/98xx/9810ddl.jpg

manufacturing of the 9810 obviously was done in Germany too - in late 1971 (or very early 1972)

Right after the "public" introduction of the HP-35 (aka V2), production was done in Singapore and USA, covering "rest of the world" and "USA", this should be around spring 1972 timeframe

And as others already pointed out - they already were a "giant" in the late 60s, with calculators only being some very minor product line.


#16

You could say that Apple came from HP calculators ! I was listening to an interview with Steve Wozniak, the founder of Apple, today on BBC Radio 4 and heard that he was inspired by the HP calculator keyboards and then found this link.

http://www.engology.com/engintwozniak.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/midweek.shtml


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