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35 Years of Invention: 1966-2001


From the Pocket Calculator to the World's First Molecular Logic Gate, HP Labs Celebrates its Distinguished Past and Exciting Future

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No one had ever heard the word "electronics" in 1939 when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard applied for what became U.S. Patent No. 2,268,872. Their groundbreaking audio oscillator was HP's first product and an essential tool in the production of the historic Disney film Fantasia.

HP Labs, which marks its 35th anniversary this year, maintains that spirit of invention at Hewlett-Packard. Created in 1966, the lab has grown from a small band of engineers to one of the leading industrial research laboratories with seven sites around the world.

photo of Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett

"The Laboratories began as a place where people with ideas could develop them," Bill Hewlett once said.

That's still the case. Researchers in our printing and imaging labs are working to make professional-quality publishing accessible to anyone. In our Internet systems and storage group, teams are developing the infrastructure for computing on a planetary scale. Elsewhere, scientists are pushing the limits of the physically possible to fabricate computers on a nanometer scale.

HP Labs has a long history of technical innovation. Here are just a few milestones from the past 35 years:

1968 Light-emitting diodes - HP Labs develops the first commercially available light-emitting diode. Applications include alphanumeric displays such as indicator lights, traffic signals and even wound healing.

photo of light-emitting diodes
photo of the HP35, the first pocket scientific calculator

1972 Pocket scientific calculator - HP Labs engineers rise to Bill Hewlett's challenge to create a calculator that fits in a shirt pocket. The HP35 makes the slide rule obsolete.

1984 Thermal Inkjet Printing - HP's first inkjet printer is launched using thermal inkjet technology developed in HP Labs in the 1970s. Dot matrix and impact printers are history.

1994 HP-Intel collaboration for 64-bit architecture - Building on work that began in HP Labs in 1981, researchers team with Intel engineers to develop what eventually becomes Intel's next-generation Itanium architecture, launched in 2001.

photo of Intel Itanium microprocessor
image of the smallest observed Ge pyramid on a Si(001) surface.

1999 Molecular Logic Gate - Scientists from HP Labs and UCLA build the world's first molecular logic gate, a fundamental step in the creation of chemically assembled electronic nanocomputers.


News and Events

» HP Celebrates 35th Anniversary of HP Labs (press release)
» Anniversary Celebration Features Distinguished Scientists (biographies)
» Director's Remarks
» Archives
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