William Hewlett

Born May 20, 1913, Ann Arbor, Mich.; with David Packard, founder of the computer company which bears their names; holders of patents on resistor capacitance oscillators and other electronic dees.

Education: BA, Stanford University, 1934; MS, electrical engineering, MIT, 1936; BS, electrical engineering, Stanford University, 1939.

Professional Experience: Hewlett-Packard Corp.: cofounder and partner, 1939-1947, vice president and director, 1947-1957, executive vice president and director, 1957-1964, president and director, 1964-1968, president, chief executive officer and director, 1969-1977, chairman of executive committeee, chief executive officer and director, 1977-1978, chairman of executive committee and director, 1978-1983, vice chairman, board of directors, 1983-1987, director emeritus, board of directors, 1987-present.

Honors and Awards: life fellow, Institute of Radio Engineers (now IEEE), 1948; honorary lifetime membership, Instrument Society of America, 1963; member, National Academy of Engineering, 1965; life fellow membership, the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, 1976; member, National Academy of Sciences, 1977; fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1970; member, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1981; member, National Academy of Sciences, the President's Circle, 1989; director, Institute of Radio Engineers (now IEEE), 1950-1957, president, 1954; California Manufacturer of the Year, California Manufacturers' Association, 1969; Business Statesman of the Year, Harvard Business School of Northern California, 1970; Medal of Achievement, WEMA (Western Electronic Manufacturers Assn.), 1971; Founders Medal, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), to Hewlett and Packard, 1973; Industrialist of the Year, to Hewlett and Packard, California Museum of Science and Industry and California Museum Foundation, 1973; SAMA (Scientific Apparatus Makers Association) Award, to Hewlett and Packard, 1975; Vermilye Medal, to Hewlett and Packard, the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, 1976; Corporate Leadership Award, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976; Medal of Honor, City of 116blingen, West Germany, 1977; Herbert Hoover Medal for Distinguished Service, Stanford University Alumni Association, 1977; Henry Heald Award, Illinois Institute of Technology, 1984; National Medal of Science, 1985; Santa Clara County Business Hall of Fame Laureate Award, junior Achievement, 1987; World Affairs Council Award, World Affairs Council of Northern California, 1987; Degree of Uncommon Man, Stanford University, 1987; Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1987; National Business Hall of Fame Laureate Award, junior Achievement, 1988; John M. Fluke, Sr., Memorial Pioneer Award, Electronics 1~st Magazine, 1990; Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame Award, Silicon Valley Engineering Council, 1991; Exemplary Leader Award, American Leadership Forum, Silicon Valley Chapter, 1992; Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award, United Way of Santa Clara County, 1991; National Inventors Hall of Fame Award, National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, Akron, Ohio, 1992; LLD, University of California (Berkeley), 1966; LLD, Yale University, 1976; DSc, Kenyon College, 1978; DSc, Polytechnic Institute of New York, 1978; EngD, University of Notre Dame, 1980; EngD, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, 1980; EngD, Dartmouth College, 1983; LLD, Mills College, 1983; LHD, Johns Hopkins University, 1985; Doctor of Public Policy, Rand Graduate Institute, 1985; Doctor of Electronic Science, University of Bologna, Italy, 1989; Doctor of Humanities, Santa Clara University, 1991; National Medal of Science, 1985.

Hewlett was born May 20, 1913, in Ann Arbor, Mich. He attended Stanford University, and received a bachelor of arts degree in 1934 and a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1939. He also received a master's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1936.

Hewlett met David Packard during their undergraduate days at Stanford. The two engineering classmates became friends and formed a partnership known as Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) in 1939. HP's first product was a resistance-capacitance audio oscillator based on a design developed by Hewlett when he was in graduate school. The company's first "plant" was a small garage in Palo Alto, and the initial capital amounted to $538. Walt Disney's purchase of eight of the audio oscillators for the film Fantasia put the small company in business (Caddes 1986).

Hewlett was involved actively in management of the company until 1987, with the exception of the years he served as an Army officer during World War II. He was on the staff of the Army's Chief Signal Officer and then headed the electronics section of the New Development Division of the War Department Special Staff. During this latter tour of duty, he was on a special US team that inspected Japanese industry immediately after the war.

In 1947, shortly after he returned to Palo Alto, Hewlett was named vice president. He was elected executive vice president in 1957, president in 1964, and chief executive officer in 1969.

Hewlett resigned as president in 1977 and retired as chief executive officer in 1978 in accordance with his previously announced plans for management succession within HP. He then served as chairman of HP's executive committee until 1983, when he became vice chairman of the HP board of directors. In 1987, he was named director emeritus.

Over the years, Hewlett has contributed to the advancement of various organizations within the electronics industry. From 1950 to 1957 he was on the board of directors of the Institute of Radio Engineers now the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)-and served as president of the institute in 1954. He also has played an important role in the development of the former Western Electronic Manufacturers Association, now called the American Electronics Association. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor.

Hewlett has a keen interest in education and medicine. He was a trustee of Mills College in Oakland, Calif., from 1958 to 1968 and Stanford University from 1963 to 1974, and was a member of the San Francisco regional panel of the Commission on White House Fellows from 1969 to 1970.

He served as board president and later director of the Palo Alto Stanford Hospital Center from 1958 to 1962 (now Stanford Medical Center). He was director of the Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Health Plan Board from 1972 to 1978, and the Drug Abuse Council in Washington, D.C., from 1972 to 1974.

Hewlett is an honorary trustee of the California Academy of Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hewlett currently is director of the National Academies Corporation and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Since 1966, he has served as chairman of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which he established with his late wife Flora. He is trustee emeritus of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Hewlett holds 11 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities: honorary doctor of law degrees from the University of California in Berkeley, Yale University, and Mills College in Oakland, Calif.; honorary doctor of science degrees from Polytechnic Institute of New York and Kenyon College in Ohio; honorary doctor of engineering degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Dartmouth College, and Utah State University; an honorary doctor of humane letters from Johns Hopkins University; an honorary doctor of public policy degree from the Rand Graduate Institute; and an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Santa Clara University in California. He also holds an honorary doctor of electronic science degree from the University of Bologna in Italy.

Hewlett has a wide range of outside interests and hobbies, most of them based on his love for the outdoors. He is a part-time botanist and an accomplished mountain climber, skier, and fisherman. He also maintains various ranching and cattle-raising operations with Packard in California and Idaho.



Caddes, Carolyn, Portraits of Success: Impressions of Silicon Valley Pioneers, Tioga Publishing Co., Palo Alto, Calif, 1986.


William Hewlett died on January 12, 2001 in Palo Alto. (THVV, 2017)

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