The Success Story of William Hewlett

On this day, May 20 in the year 1913, William Redington Hewlett was born in Michigan, United States. Together with David Packard, he founded the Hewlett-Packard Company which became one of the biggest companies in the world.

William Hewlett
William Hewlett (Credit: Hewlett Foundation)

Hewlett was the son of a physician and professor at Stanford University. At the age of 12, his father died. Although he had dyslexia, he was a good in math and science. He eventually finished electrical engineering at Stanford and a master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1939, Hewlett and Packard formed a partnership to produce the resistance-capacity audio oscillator which was an invention of William. Their initial capital was $538 but in their first year, they made a sale of more than $5,000 and a profit of $1,500. One of their earliest customers was Walt Disney Company.

While David focused on the business side of the company, William concentrated on the engineering aspect. He was the president of his own company in 1964 and became its chief executive officer in 1969.
In 1967, William spoke to Steve Jobs, then a 12-year old student who called to ask for some spare parts. He later offered the boy a summer job. This is just one of the informal characteristics of his management style. The boy was so impressed with the HP Company that he later fashioned his own Apple business after HP.

William and David’s focus on the welfare of the employees would soon be called the HP way. It is said that William was so enthusiastic with the work of his engineers to the extent that he would create “the Hewlett Effect” on them. They better make their products very well because Mr. Hewlett would always see a flaw after examining them.

William died in 2001 at his home in California at the age of 87. He had 3 sons and 2 daughters with his wife Flora Lamson with whom he established a philanthropic foundation which became one of the biggest in America.

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