Chuck House, a longterm Computer History Museum trustee, is the director of the Cisco Heritage project; he has a long Silicon Valley history with HP, Intel, and several other companies. Co-author of The HP Phenomenon and author of Permission Denied, his new book is entitled Preserving Your Digital Revolution Heritage: If Not You, Who—If Not Now, When? House is founder and executive director of InnovaScapes Institute.
Amidst a sea of computer vendors, the 1966 Fall Joint Computer Conference booth for an obscure instrument manufacturer, Hewlett-Packard, was insignificant. Their lone product, the HP 2116, said “Computer” on the front panel, but the company called it an “Instrumentation Controller.” Founder David Packard was clear: “We won’t compete with key customer IBM, a company 20 times larger than HP.” The HP 2116 was the second 16-bit computer offered for sale worldwide, after the DDP-116, from an equally obscure Massachusetts company, CCC, in 1965. Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) didn’t introduce a 16-bit machine until 1970—the PDP-11.