Artifact Details


Bagley, Alan oral history

Catalog Number







Bagley, Alan, Interviewee
House, Charles H., Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, Calif.


43 p.




Self-study and determination got Al Bagley from 29 Palms to Caltech; an immigrant brother-in-law introduced him to Hewlett-Packard in 1948, which intrigued him because they were building a lettuce picker for the San Joaquin Valley. The picker never happened, but Bagley developed a nuclear counter while an HP intern attending Stanford. Upon graduating, he joined HP and stayed 41 years, becoming the most prolific innovator and instigator of new instrumentation arenas in HP history. Derived from the nuclear counter, the 524 time-interval counter and its derivatives was HP’s most successful product in both sales and profits for years.

Bagley was General Manager for the Frequency and Time Division of HP for many years, which introduced HP’s first printer (mid-1950’s), HP’s first ICs (1962) and with them, the industry’s first step-and-repeat camera for IC development based on a novel Laser Interferometer. These factoids, not recorded elsewhere, bespeak an inventiveness that was later shown dramatically in the division’s Atomic Clocks (both Cesium-Beam and Rubidium), which to this day align the world’s satellites for time registration. Some of the world’s first commercially available Frequency Synthesizers, Logic Analyzers, Precision Thermometers, and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) also came from Bagley’s lab. He later helped found Trimble Navigation and was on their Board for years, and he also served on the SETI board for years.

Bagley discusses throughout about Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett and their unique management styles, and in particular their sense of integrity and obligation to community, along with their motivational approaches.




Bagley, Alan; Hewlett Packard (HP); Oliver, Barney; Young, John; Hilton, Ed; Atalla, John; Brooksby, Merrill; Kuchinsky, Saul; Boff, Frank; Hannond, Don; Cutler, Len; Gordon, Gary; Dukes, John; Petrak, Jack; Melchor, Jack; Stanford University; Fairchild

Collection Title

CHM Oral history

Lot Number