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Full Name (family, given): Holden, Happy
Account Name: Happy Holden
Contact: Happy Holden
Location: Loveland, CO
Entered: 27 May 2003, 4:33 p.m.

I was a "baby Boomer", born in 1947. My father was a career Army man so we lived in a lot of places, but when he retired in 1961, he moved as far away from humanity as the "Real-Estate Books" had listed-that meant the far forests of the coastal range in Oregon. I went from the large high schools of CA to a logging community, called Alsea, Oregon. It's high school had 91 students in all 4 grades, my class had 21! Fortunately, we were just over the hill from Corvallis and OSU. So I started in Chemical engineering, and all we had was slide rules. I worked part-time for the Geophysics Dept., where I met my first mechanical calculator (Friden SRW), then in 1968, the Friden electronic EC-132. Working a lot with computer process control, after my BSChE, I stayed and got an MS in Computer Science. I was actually recruited by Hewlett-Packard out of graduate school. HP needed a chemical engr for their printed circuit manufacturing, and one that would work for a small electronics company in Palo Alto. My recruiting visit to HP was a real eye-opener compared to DuPont and Dow, who were also recruiting me. When I saw Bill Hewlett in the caferteria waiting in line and carrying his own tray-I knew this company was special. I started in June of 1970 with an employee no. of 3069, and at 90% salary. Everyone took a 10% cut including the executives rather than lay-off workers. HP had 2000 employees and $170 million in sales. When I retired 28 years later, it would have 128,000 employees and be $54 billion in sales.

Right away, I was introduced to HP computers (2114 & 2116) and HP's first desktop calculator (HP 9100). You can read in the 'HP Memories Forum' about my work with the HP35 and other calculators. As the head Process Engr. in printed circuit mfg., we were involved in all the calculator innovations in some way. Since I worked on all these calculators, HP would always give me one of the Pilot run. I just kept puting them in a box since I only needed one. I stayed with the 35 until switching to the 65, then 67, then to the 41C, then to the 48S. I never did master the 48S, even though I have two of them (actually, a 48GX). They kept giving calculators to us for publishing technical papers, I complained that I already had to many of them, could I have one of the new portable multimeters instead (now I have three of these).

I did a lot of special projects for the calculator div. (initially called APD (Advanced Product Div in Cupertino). That's where I met Steve Wozniak. Steve and a bunch of us HP engineers built our own home computer with HP blessing and their parts. Waz was the driver, he knew how to use the compiler software at APD (used to create the calculator binary drivers)to shrink the computers operatng code down into an available ROM. Thus was born the Apple_1. In the movie, "Pirates of Silicon Valley", Steve is shown going in to see Ray King (then the Div Mgr.) to get permission to use the technology. After all, we built it on HP time, with HP components using HP's compilers on HP circuit boards. Fortunatley, HP didn't see a future for 'Home Computers'. whey...... I don't think Bill Hewlett ever knew about this-but HP was generous enough not to hord the Apple_1.

My career with HP was ideal for an engineer. I worked for 14 Divisions. I got to work in manufacturing, then software development, then Field Applications that took me to Taiwan to manage that Application Center, then R&D and finally Marketing of HP Mfg Capabilities. I retire at the end of an era, when HP started outsourcing manufacturing. My heart was with manufacturing, and HP giving it up was to much for me. By then both Bill Hewlett and David Packard were dead. Alive, they never would have supported this change in strategy.

Of my lasting memories, working with Hewlett on the HP-35 and with Packard on the Monterey Bay Aquarium are pinnacle. But there were many-many stories and events that were almost up there. I need to go back through my old calculator box. There are a lot of parts in there of calculators that never made it to market. One I have in there HP-02 watch. I have a prototype of the LCD-COB plastic calculator watch we were creating as a low cost partner to the expensive LED-cofired ceramic Gold filled HP-01 watch.

Current HP calculators: HP-35 (original w/error still in it), HP-45, HP-55 (w/crystal), HP-65, HP-67, HP-97, HP-41C w5 mod & HP 82240B, HP-27S, HP-48SX, HP-48GX, and now HP-35S

Edited: 23 May 2008, 1:15 p.m.


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