William Hewlett & David Packard

Photo: Image courtesy Office of William Hewlett

William Hewlett &
David Packard

Chairman's Medal
3rd Heinz Awards - 1996

Electronics pioneers William Hewlett, right, and his late partner David Packard* received a special recognition, the Chairman’s Medal, in the 1996 Heinz Awards program.

The Chairman’s Medal is a non-monetary prize honoring a lifetime of achievement. Awarded for the first time, it is bestowed from time to time on truly exceptional nominees whose careers have been distinguished by a pattern of singular accomplishment and character.

William Hewlett and David Packard met when they were students at Stanford University in the 1930s. With the creation of the firm that bears their names, Hewlett and Packard forever changed the face of the electronics industry. Starting with $538 in borrowed funds, the two men set up shop in a Palo Alto, California garage, now a state landmark bearing the legend, “Birthplace of Silicon Valley.” From those humble beginnings, the two men built Hewlett-Packard into one of the world’s most innovative and respected companies.

From the beginning the company excelled at pushing back technological frontiers. Early on, Mr. Hewlett developed the first audio oscillator to test sound equipment. During World War II, the company produced radio, sonar, radar, and nautical and aviation devices, and, at the war’s conclusion, began buying smaller electronics firms. In 1969, Mr. Hewlett inspired the invention of the first scientific pocket calculator, setting the stage for Hewlett-Packard to enter the strange new world of computers ... a world it ultimately helped to create. However, the company’s innovative spirit was not restricted to technology; it broke new ground in the area of management as well. Hewlett-Packard’s management philosophy scorned strict hierarchy and formality and encouraged individual creativity. This became known as the “H-P Way,” which today serves as a model for countless other companies around the world.

Both Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard retired from active duty with the company in 1978. Mr. Packard returned to active participation in the company in 1991, supervising a major reorganization and serving as Chairman until his second retirement in 1993. Mr. Hewlett remains on the company’s Board of Directors.

Already a noted philanthropist, upon his death in 1996 Mr. Packard left the bulk of his estate to the foundation that bears his name. Mr. Hewlett, too, has established a foundation that distributes grants in areas such as education, the environment, and conflict resolution. A generous spirit is just one of many qualities shared by these two remarkable men, whose character, talents and ideas have left a lasting mark upon the world.

*Mr. Packard was given the award posthumously.

Note: This profile was written at the time of the awards’ presentation.

David Packard passed away on March 26, 1996.
William Hewlett passed away on January 12, 2001.

The best possible company management is one that combines a sense of corporate greatness and destiny with empathy for, and fidelity to, the average employee.”

— William Hewlett & David Packard