HP to Stanford: We Don’t Have Personal Knowledge of Computers

This letter showed up in my mailbox. It’s a letter to Dr.Fred E. Terman – Office of the Provost of Stanford University. It’s from William (Bill) R. Hewlett of Hewlett Packard Company. The document – dated June 13th, 1956 – stated the following:

Dear Fred:

I have no personal knowledge of computers nor does anyone in our organization have any appreciable knowledge

Sorry we can’t help you out in this regard


Sincerely yours,

William R. Hewlett

When did HP Get into Computers?

The reality was, HP didn’t get into computers until 1966. At that time, the HP 2116A ushered in a new era for HP – ten years after this letter was written.

In fact, at this time in 1956, HP put out their first oscilloscope. This was one year before HP went public.

Terman, who was a US Army Signal Corps’ advisory board member, was asked by the Army to acquire a computer for research purpose. Being a friend of Bill Hewlett, he inquired with the company.

Unfortunately, he was ten years too early.

The following is a copy of the letter to Stanford

HP Computer Letter
A Letter from Bill Hewlett to Dr. F.E. Terman of Stanford Stating HP has no Knowledge of Computers