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HP Garage – The crossroads of simplicity and entrepreneurship

Nadhan on ‎08-22-2014 09:39 AM

I was in the Silicon Valley recently, and happened to visit the offices of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, in the building that is now HP Labs. If you tip-toe behind Bill’s desk and put your hand on his chair, you feel inspired with an urge to aim high and achieve bigger and better things. On the desk, I saw a simple writing pad with his own handwriting (a dying art today), and a piece of paper where history was made. The simplicity of the office was a striking contrast to the aura of entrepreneurship that one could feel just standing in the room.


Innovative thoughts in Bill's handwriting

Dave Packard’s office is no different. I saw a photograph of President George H.W Bush acknowledging Dave’s accomplishments, and note that he left HP to serve as the Secretary of Defense under President Nixon while Bill continued as CEO. Reading through the literature and hearing tidbits of information from our tour guide, I created my own impressions of these two innovators.


Innovation flourishes at the intersection of domains and perspectives. When the human brain is subjected to a different way of thinking, or when its focus is shifted to an object different from the norm, the environment is ripe for innovative thinking. This is what makes the impossible ... possible, and stimulates that breathless sense of excitement when innovation is realized.


It makes me wonder if there was an intersection (of sorts) that happened when the founders of Hewlett-Packard met. Then I went to the HP Garage, where I learned a few more pieces of information about these two Silicon Valley legends:


  • They started the company with a total of $538. Bill contributed $500 in cash and Dave’s contribution was a drilling machine that was estimated to be about $38 in value.
  • Dave and Lucille Packard lived in the house at 367 Addison in Palo Alto, while Bill lived in a shack right next to the historic garage.

HP Garage - Nadhan v2.jpg

  • I came to understand (from others who have actually worked and shaken hands with them) that Dave was the more conservative of the two and more risk-averse.
  • Bill surrounded himself with reminders of things he loved: family, friends, the company, the community, education, engineering and nature. Dave’s office shows his years of public service, love for the environment and his support of conservation.

The difference in perspectives did not impact their vision for HP or their working style. Both had open doors to their offices with a direct line-of-sight to each other’s desk. 


I stood back, took a deep breath and admired the HP Garage -- birthplace of Silicon Valley -- at the intersection of Addison and Waverly in Palo Alto. Or as I look at it -- at the crossroads of Simplicity and Entrepreneurship -- where Innovation happened.


And, as I look forward to when HP turns 100, I wonder who the next Hewlett and Packard will be.


Checkout the video below for a glimpse of where HP could be headed for the next 75 years !



Any takers? Please let me know.


Team up with HP Technology Expert, E.G.Nadhan


Connect with Nadhan on: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Journey Blog.




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