Remembering Early Times at HP

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HP Memories

One of our main objectives in starting this website five years ago was (and still is today) to get in touch with people who have worked at HP from the birth of the company up to today. We are interested in hearing your memories no matter what division or country you worked in, or whether you were in engineering, marketing, finance, administration, or worked in a factory. This is because all of you have contributed to the story of this unique and successful enterprise.

Your memories are a treasure for this website. While product and technology are our main concern, other writings related to the company life are highly welcome, as far as they stay inside the HP Way guidelines.

The contributions made by Bob DeVries during his career at HP are illustrated in this chapter. This chapter is a good example of the type of memories we would like to present on this website.

Many thanks Bob for this highly valuable contribution.


Anybody Else ? Please get in touch using the Contact US form.



Bob DeVries Biography

Bob DeVries was the youngest of six children born and raised in Spokane Washington . His 10 years older brother, Adrian, was interested in early electronics and listening to the shortwave bands. Adrian had several friends who were ham radio operators. Bob watched and learned from Adrian as he put electronic things together. Bob's interest in radio and building things began about age six. Bob made crystal sets, Super-Regenerative, TRF to Super Hetrodyne receivers. Popular Mechanics always had a few pages devoted to electricity and electronics that he carried around and studied.

Through grade school and high school, Bob was always interested in math, mechanical drawing and electronics. He attended High School for traditional courses and took courses at the Spokane Trade School for electronics. Here he got a lot of basic electronic theory. He fixed many different home and car radios. Along with war surplus items at low cost, Bob was able to disassemble surplus electronic devices, and clean up the removed capacitors, resistors, tubes, sockets for new projects. While in high school, Bob built a working 5 inch and 9 inch oscilloscope.

In 1948 Bob joined the Air Force, worked in the radio shop for a couple months then the radar shop for 3.5 years. Most of Bob's training was "on the job." Later, for three years, Bob was a traveling salesman for the William DeVries Co., An automobile parts and accessory house owned and operated by his dad.

Early 1956 Bob learned about HP and that it was a fine place to work. He applied, was hired to work in the test department and, early on, became the Scope Test line leader. Three years later he made a temporary move into the lab to finish a project started while in the test dept. Our lab management had so many products and projects to complete that Bob was never sent back to test and after a few years was considered a Mechanical Engineer with a BS degree and be ranked and evaluated with the other engineers. He retired from HP in 1990 but went back for a couple years as a consultant.




Foreword by John Minck




You're a major manufacturer of high-tech electronics, say, Hewlett-Packard. You have more than one certified genius in your Advanced Research Labs. You have a world-class Industrial Design department to create dramatic product styling and the appearance of color excellence. You have bright, clever engineers and circuit designers all over your labs. You have a world class manufacturing facility, capable of fabricating everything from state-of-the-art semiconductors to precision plastic molded parts in any material, to the most intricate machined part. You have the world's best global marketing organization which compiles the new product specifications to precisely fit oncoming customer needs.

So what stands between you and a successful new product? It is a person that HP calls a Product Designer. Someone needs to take all of those above circuits and components and create a front panel control structure which makes customers VERY satisfied with its convenience and usability. You need someone to pack all those circuits and hot power supplies and mechanical controls into a small space. You need an internal layout that is easy and inexpensive to assemble, and yet, down the road, if it does hit a repair center, is easy to access failed parts deep inside. Someone needs to design and evaluate the air flow, whether fanned or convection, to assure that the Killer-of-Reliability, heat, is carried outside, even at +55° C (130 F).

One of HP's most clever and creative and accomplished Product Designers is Bob DeVries. His 38-year career in the Oscilloscope, Tape Recorder and Microwave Divisions boasts dozens of successful products which meet customer needs with reliable and easy to use instruments and accessories. Bob often said, "I've always felt the stuff I do is a major contribution to the product. The ME on a project can make a decided difference. The circuits can be tops, but if they're not held together right, the product won't work." Bob's memories of those products in the Golden Age of high-tech instrumentation makes interesting reading.


John Minck



Some Memories of a Hewlett Packard Product Designer, by Bob DeVries


Table of Contents:


Click here to download Bob's memories in PDF format - The 70 pages document is a 3 Mb PDF file.




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