Fifty years ago, November 7 thru 10, 1966, at the JCC in San Francisco, HP introduced its first computer, the 2116A, although David Packard preferred to call it an instrumentation controller deferring the term “computer” to IBM.  Management was initially adverse to the computer business going so far as to cancel a time-sharing sale to Holiday Inn.

The design team was lead by Kay Magleby who building to HP’s standards produced a very reliable product.  It was the second computer designed in Silicon Valley.

The product was not immediately successful at least in part due to challenges in getting an instrument oriented salesforce to sell computers; in its first year at most five units were sold out outside HP.   Sales took off following marketing and sales changes under the leadership of Tom Perkins

By 1976 revenue from HPs computer products was $340 million, matching all historic instrument’s revenue.  HP was a computer company.

In November 2015 HPs computer business emerged as a $55 billion/year independent company, HP Enterprise.

HP Enterprise declined our committee’s offer to mark this its 50th anniversary.


Additonal material:

The HP Phenomenon-Innovation and Business Transformation, House and Price, Stanford University Press, (c) 2009

Oral History of Thomas J. Perkins, Computer History Museum, July 22, 2011

Oral History of Kay Magleby, Computer History Museum, November 20, 2009