Hewlett, along with David Packard who died in 1996, launched HP from a Silicon Valley garage in 1939. The company’s first customer was Walt Disney Studios which used HP’s electronic machine to perfect the soundtrack to the animated movie Fantasia.
In a statement, HP chairman and chief executive, Carly Fiorina said: ‘Our hearts go out to the families, as we join them in mourning the loss of a great and gentle man. We, as stewards of his legacy, will cherish and nurture Bill’s bright spirit of invention, remembering and celebrating the rich heritage that he and Dave entrusted us with.’
Since Fiorina became chief executive in July 1999, she has tried to bring back the ‘inventiveness’ of HP that was epitomised by Hewlett and Packard, and appeared in a television advertisement standing outside the infamous garage.
Hewlett was a constant presence at HP Laboratories until he retired from active management in 1978. He was known for his ability to understand how new technologies could become successful products in the marketplace and he believed his greatest accomplishments was the people-oriented approach to management that he developed with Packard.
Hewlett had a strong interest in education and medicine. He was a trustee of Stanford University between 1963 and 1974 and also co-authored several technical articles in the field of electrical engineering, as well as holding numerous patents. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In 1966, the Hewlett family established the William and Fiora Hewlett Foundation, a philanthropic entity that makes grants in the areas of education, environmental conservation, the performing arts and community development.
He is survived by his wife Rosemary, his five children from his first marriage and five stepchildren from his second marriage.
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