Remembering Early Times at HP

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HP Memories




Foreword by Chuck House


HP's Mr. Chronicler - John Minck

Who would have the courage to tackle describing Paul Ely’s strident bullying, Lyle Jevon’s idiosyncratic behavior, or Bill Terry’s brusque management style, as John Young’s Microwave division strode to world leadership? And who would not shrink from caricaturing Ralph Lee, Barney Oliver, and other historic figures in HP history? Only the master Mr. Chronicler – John Minck.

Minck, interviewed at HP in late 1957 by Barney Oliver after finishing a dual EE/MBA Stanford degree, was 'bounced' from R&D consideration, and sent to Cort Van Rensselaer as a possible marketing candidate. It was propitious, launching a 37 year career for John, serving first as John Young's right hand man in marketing at the free-wheeling microwave division - the source of so much of HP's leadership in products, revenues, and profits for years - and then as the department manager for the emergent light-emitting diodes that HP launched just prior to introduction of personal electronics equipment such as HP handheld calculators.

Throughout, Minck maintained a strong professional involvement, with Standards committees and industry associations that furthered HP influence and stature. He served as a major advocate for HP in so many venues that it would be hard to overstate his impact on the evolution of this redoubtable little Palo Alto company as it grew from a few hundred employees to a few hundred thousand.

What is most remarkable, though, about Minck is his willingness to tell the stories behind the scenes.

John concluded, some thirty years after he started at HP, that its size was getting in its way, and its history was being forgotten. He set out to chronicle some of the more important elements, capturing much of the early lore about HP philosophy, especially from the sales and marketing perspective. But his most important chapter, he felt, was about 'the people.' In his own words, "Starting with Bill and Dave themselves, we will find a human side that cries out to be replicated in all our new people. I want all our new people to understand that they can break through the "safe" operating mode and use their creativity, challenge the bureaucratic processes, and keep the company loose and interesting and fun to work for."

This revision of his longstanding HP chronicle is incisive with its sometimes biting, unflinching portrayal of some of the key players of yesteryear - words that others have spoken, but not written; stories long suspected, but never verified. What is it they say: "the pen is mightier than the sword" or for that matter, the exalted position. We are fortunate that a man with Minck's observational powers has chosen to memorialize this important era for us all.


Chuck House




John Minck Biography

John Minck retired in 1995, after a 37-year career with Hewlett-Packard Co. He held technical marketing assignments, mostly in microwave and communication product areas, and was RF/MW marketing communications manager for several decades, before retirement in 1995. In the early 1970's, Minck managed an HP venture product group which designed and introduced light-emitting diodes into the market, contributing LED numeric displays to HP's first HP-35 engineering pocket calculator.

Since 1972, Minck has been active with NCSL International, a global trade association, with interest in metrology, quality and calibration issues. He was National President of NCSLI for 1977, and since 1979 has been editor of the organization's NCSLI Newsletter for 28 years. In 1987, Minck was honored with NCSLI's highest award, the William A. Wildhack Prize, in recognition of his contributions to the field of metrology.

Minck was born in Defiance, Ohio, Dec, 1930, a 1948 graduate of Defiance High School. He holds a BSEE-1952 from the University of Notre Dame, and an MSEE/ADM-1958 from Stanford. In 1952, he was a blast effects engineer with Sandia Corp (Atomic Energy Commission), working on full-scale atom bomb tests at Eniwetok and Nevada. Following a two-year tour with the USAF, and then Stanford, he joined HP in Jan, 1958.

During his HP tenure, Minck was also active with the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), Association of Old Crows (AOC) (electronic countermeasures), and was a past officer of the Peninsula Marketing Association. He is the author of numerous published articles and was a regular contributor to the microwave trade press. He has written a number of application and technical notes for HP's literature. He was co-author of a lab manual on microwave measurements.

Minck lives in Palo Alto, CA with his wife of 55 years, Jane, and has three married children; Kathleen, John Jr, and Susan, and one grandson, Brendan. Minck enjoys mostly passive pursuits and thereby is an avid reader, although in retirement, he also drives to San Francisco to "supervise" the new Doyle Drive and Bay Bridge construction projects.




by John Minck


Table of Contents:


Click here to download John Minck's Narrative (the HP story) - The 115 page document is a 4 Mb PDF file.

MORE MINCK LIFE HISTORY - Click on link below to download the Life and Times of John Minck, a personal history of growing up in a Midwest farm culture, Notre Dame and Stanford, atom bombs and USAF, family, heroes, causes and passions...

Click here to download John Minck's Life and Times - The 85 page document is a 1.9 Mb PDF file.


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