Wednesday, June 05, 2013

HP Celebrates 40 Years in Boise!

Before it became the home of the incredibly successful HP LaserJet printer, launched in 1984, Boise, Idaho was already one of the early Hewlett Packard "outposts" established by the company that started Silicon Valley. Going back to 1973, Idaho joined other states like Oregon and Colorado in giving the firm, started by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in 1939 in Palo Alto, California, some "breathing room". In Boise, beginning in the 1970's, R&D, marketing, and manufacturing efforts blossomed outside the high-rent Bay Area, concentrating on storage devices (tape and disk) and printers to go along with the company's market-leading minicomputers of the day.

40-year-old front-page news in The Idaho Statesman announced HP's plans to expand to Boise
On June 5, 2013, HP celebrated its 40th year in Boise - defined in terms of becoming Idaho property owners. In an Idaho Statesman front page from June of 1973, on prominent display at the afternoon gala for current employees, past "alums", and local officials, news about HP's purchase of 150 acres of farmland just west of Boise's then-city limits, featured the headline, "Hewlett Packard Discloses Plans for Boise Area Plant" (see above). That milestone would lead to the beginning of one of Idaho's most important economic developments in its history.

Pradeep Jotwani, HP Senior VP, and Idaho Governor "Butch" Otter, were on hand to help celebrate
The traditional "HP beer bust" atmosphere, on a beautiful Boise afternoon and complete with a display of classic cars from the 1970's, was attended by a large crowd of invited guests, including current  printing executive Pradeep Jotwani (Senior Vice President managing the LaserJet business), as well as Idaho Governor Butch Otter. In brief remarks, tribute was paid to the hard work and dedication of the throng of individuals, both in technology and business development, and also the continuing presence of HP employees, past and present, locally involved with time and monetary contributions in the greater Boise area-community. The point was accentuated by a gift to The Idaho Foodbank of a check for over $40,000, the result of a 2013 fund-raising campaign.

I am, of course, part of the history of HP in Boise, having been recruited by the company during the final weeks of earning my MBA in 1981, and then completing 25 years of employment in 2005. And while I still cover the company as a mostly-objective industry analyst, the event today was full of pure (and no doubt biased) pride, having played at least a small part of Idaho, and the overall technology industry's economic development, and future too!
The late Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett posed during their later years in front of the Palo Alto "garage" where it all began in 1939. They spurred the move to expand the company to "outposts" like Boise, Idaho during the 1960's and 1970's
(Note - in September, 2012, I covered the passing of the "original" HP-Boise executive, Ray Smelek, who along with Hewlett and Packard spearheaded the establishment of the Boise site - see
September Observations - How Boise, Idaho Became a Printer Capital".)

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