[time-nuts] Museum of HP Clocks

Dan Veeneman dan at ekoan.com
Thu Mar 10 10:50:25 EST 2005

At 11:53 PM 3/7/05, "Richard \(Rick\) Karlquist \(N6RK\)" 
<richard at karlquist.com> wrote:
>According to folklore, Bill Hewlett "demanded"
>that Varian sell the product line to HP
>or else HP would put them out of business.

This just didn't sound right, so I asked a friend who worked
at HP about that.  Here's his response regarding Varian
and that "folklore."

It was never  considered a secret. hp used Varian stuff in a lot of places. 
Varian made a broad line very good vacuum apparatus, and hp had easy access 
to it, as a long standing and very large customer for Varian tubes... 
Varian, long the source of almost ALL of hp's klystrons and BWOs was right 
behind the Page Mill facilities on Hansen Way.

You need to look at the original Varian mass-spectrometer line to see where 
the cesium tube really came from. Varian, forty years ago, was world 
dominant in many laboratory instruments, especially if vacuum technology 
was involved. Different business than Test & Measurement, and I can't 
imagine Hewlett having to threaten anyone; it wasn't his style according to 
the legend..

It is likely  that Varian was glad to get rid of the cesium line,as the 
quantities were very low at the time, and hp was already in the F&T business.

Both companies shared personnel back and forth, and a very friendly 
relationship existed.  Further, the Stanford connection (Dr. Terman, et al) 
provided interlocking directors, and, I suspect, a lot of social 
friendships up at the executive levels.  I expect that his threatening of 
Varian is apocryphal, and wonder how Karlquist came to learn that.  BTW, 
Varian's  cesium line was originally in Beverly, MA. (home of the 
pioneering Bomac labs... and, of course, later Datum (- now  Symmetricon - 
a great stock to own, in my opinion).  My clock can trace its lineage to 
that team, also.

Don't forget that hp was always happy to sell other people's ideas, so long 
as they could do so profitably. (e.g.,  the decade counters from Berkeley 
that got hp into a whole new line of business...)



More information about the time-nuts mailing list