The HP-Compaq Merger Story

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR027
Case Length : 16 Pages
Period : 2001
Organization : Hewlett-Packard Company, Compaq Computer Corporation
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : USA
Industry : Computers

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note


Stanford engineers Bill Hewlett and David Packard started HP in California in 1938 as an electronic instruments company. Its first product was a resistance-capacity audio oscillator, an electronic instrument used to test sound equipment. During the 1940s, HP's products rapidly gained acceptance among engineers and scientists.

HP's growth was aided by heavy purchases made by the US government during the Second World War. During the 1950s, HP developed strong technological capabilities in the rapidly evolving electronics business. In 1951, HP invented the high speed frequency counter, which significantly reduced the time required to measure high frequencies. HP came out with its first public issue in 1957. HP entered the medical field in 1961 by purchasing Sanborn Company. In 1963, HP entered into a joint venture agreement with Yokogawa Electric Works of Japan to form Yokogawa-Hewlett-Packard. In 1966, the company established HP Laboratories, to conduct research activities relating to new technologies and products. During the same year, HP designed its first computer for controlling some of its test-and-measurement instruments.

During the 1970s, HP continued its tradition of innovation. In 1974, HP launched its first minicomputer that was based on 4K dynamic random access semiconductors (DRAM's) instead of magnetic cores.

In 1977, John Young was named HP president, marking a transition from the era of the founders to a new generation of professional managers. During the 1980s, HP emerged as a major player in the computer industry, offering a full range of computers from desktop machines to powerful minicomputers. This decade also saw the development of successful products like the Inkjet and LaserJet printers. HP introduced its first personal computer (PC) in 1981, followed by an electronic mail system in 1982. This was the first major wide-area commercial network that was based on a minicomputer. HP also introduced its HP 9000 computer with a 32-bit superchip. HP became a leader in workstations with the 1989 purchase of market leader, Apollo Computers. In 1992, HP acquired Texas Instruments' line of UNIX-based computers...

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