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Keysight Technologies History

Company History Timeline - 1930s

Following graduation from Stanford University in 1934, electrical engineers Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett went on a two-week camping and fishing trip in the Colorado mountains. On this trip, they discovered strong similarities in their attitudes toward many things and became close friends. After graduation, Bill continued graduate studies at Stanford and MIT while Dave took a job with General Electric in New York state. Within a few years, and with the encouragement of Stanford professor and mentor Fred Terman, the two decided to start a business "and make a run for it."

Their first business location in the Santa Clara Valley is the now iconic garage located at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto. Here they manufacture the company's first product, the 200A Audio Oscillator. Disney Studios becomes interested in the 200A and orders eight to be used in the production of their movie, Fantasia.

Learn more about the Keysight Historical Archives and its holdings.


  • Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard and Noel "Ed" Porter begin developing their plans for an electronic measurement company that would later be Hewlett-Packard (HP), and that is today called Keysight Technologies.


  • Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard begin part-time work in the garage with $538 in working capital.
  • Bill Hewlett's study of negative feedback results in Hewlett-Packard's first product-the resistance-capacity audio oscillator (HP200A), an electronic instrument used to test sound equipment. The oscillator uses an incandescent bulb as part of its wiring scheme to provide variable resistance, a breakthrough in stability in oscillator design. The principle of feedback provides the foundation for other early HP products such as a harmonic wave analyzer and several distortion analyzers.


  • Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard form partnership Jan. 1, 1939; coin toss decides company name.
  • Walt Disney Studios orders eight audio oscillators to test sound equipment in creating the groundbreaking sound system for the movie "Fantasia."

Company History Timeline - 1940s

Test and measurement products win widespread acceptance among engineers and scientists. The start of World War II turns a trickle of U.S. government orders for electronic instruments into a stream and then a flood. New products are added and HP builds its first corporate headquarters, manufacturing plants and research-and-development facilities. This increased production requires them to leave the garage for larger facilities. By 1942 their operations move to the first company-owned building located at 395 Page Mill Road. This building, with its distinctive redwood siding, becomes known as the Redwood Building.


  • Production moves from garage to rented building at Page Mill Road and El Camino Real in Palo Alto.
  • The company gives its first bonus to employees, a $5 Christmas bonus. This later becomes a production bonus and-later still-company-wide profit-sharing plan..


  • Wright Field, now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, issues the first government contract with HP for six model 205 signal generators.


  • Construction of first company-owned building, a 10,000-square foot office/laboratory/factory (Redwood Building) at 395 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, Calif. Bill and Dave designed it as an open system-without interior walls-so the space could be flexible.
  • Dave Packard designs a voltmeter that gives unprecedented reliability at a lower price than the competition.


  • Company enters the microwave field with the Model A signal generator developed for the Naval Research Laboratory and a radar-jamming device. A complete line of microwave test products follows World War II, and the company becomes the acknowledged leader in signal generator.


  • The HP 610A UHF signal generator is introduced. Its design is based on the work done for the Model A Signal Generator and it becomes the company's first commercially available microwave product.

Company History Timeline - 1950s

Bill and Dave, with the help of their management team, develop the company's corporate objectives-the basis of its special management philosophy-and the company embarks upon a path toward globalization by establishing a facility in Boeblingen Germany.


  • Major advances in microwave instrumentation lead to more comprehensive test results and higher accuracy.


  • Introduction of the high-speed frequency counter (HP 524A) reduces the time required (from about 10 minutes to one or two seconds) to measure high frequencies. One application: radio stations use the HP 524A to accurately set frequencies (e.g. 104.7 FM) to comply with FCC regulations for frequency stability.


  • First public stock offering: Nov. 6, 1957.
  • Corporate objectives are written to serve as basis for the HP Way, a management style that Keysight builds upon with its focus on customer insight, high-performance, and value creation.


  • Following the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the company establishes its presence outside of California with European Marketing Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and first manufacturing plant outside of U.S. in Boeblingen, West Germany. With nine employees their first products are 200CD's, 400D's, 430C's and 410B's.

Company History Timeline - 1960s

The test and measurement field continues its steady growth. The company branches out into related fields such as medical electronics and analytical instrumentation ending the period of HP as a pure-play electronic measurement company. It also begins to be noticed as a progressive, well-managed company and a great place to work. This decade also sees the introduction of several innovative products including the Cesium Beam "Atomic" Clock and the first product to provide the company with over 1 million dollars per month, the 8551 Spectrum Analyzer.


  • New oscilloscope design in the 185A is the first to use a new "sampling" technique to view the faster digital waveforms used in computer technology.
  • Company establishes first U.S. manufacturing plant outside of Palo Alto in Loveland, Colorado.


  • Lists on New York Stock Exchange.


  • HP's first listing on Fortune magazine's list of the top 500 U.S. companies: No. 460.


  • First joint venture is formed (with Yokogawa Electric Works): Yokogawa Hewlett-Packard in Tokyo, Japan. " First synthesizer to generate electrical signal at a precise frequency desired becomes a major contribution to automated testing.


  • Company celebrates 25th anniversary.
  • Dave Packard elected chairman; Bill Hewlett elected president.
  • Highly accurate HP 5060A cesium-beam time standard is introduced.
  • The 8551A/851A Microwave spectrum analyzer is the first to make direct reading, calibrated analysis of individual signals within a frequency band.


  • HP Laboratories is formed. As the company's central research facility it is one of the world's leading electronics industry research centers. Today it is known as Keysight Laboratories.
  • HP 2116A, the company's first computer, is designed as a controller for test and measurement instruments.
  • First all-solid-state component oscillator is introduced. Its small size, light weight and large screen make it easy to use in lab, field or production work.


  • Boeblingen plant also pioneers the concept of flexible working hours, an idea adopted at HP and Agilent manufacturing facilities around the world.
  • Company engineers fly to 18 countries, with the atomic clocks they have developed, to synchronize international time standards. Eventually, the cesium-beam standard becomes the standard for international time.


  • Dave Packard appointed U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense (serves from 1969-71).
Company History Timeline - 1970s

The company continues its tradition of innovation. As this decade-marked by significant growth in earnings and employment-draws to a close, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard delegate day-to-day operating management of the company to John Young.


  • Automatic microwave network analyzer is introduced-an indispensable tool for the design and manufacture of microwave systems.


  • Work with lasers produces a laser interferometer capable of measuring to millionths of an inch. The laser interferometer, known as "the jewel in Agilent's crown," is still the tool of choice in microchip manufacturing. Similar technology produces a laser instrument that becomes the first electronic surveying tool.


  • Logic analyzer becomes the tool of choice for engineers in the fast-growing field of digital electronics.


  • The introduction of a standard digital interface system simplifies instrument systems. The electronics industry adopts the HP IB (Interface Bus) as an international standard. This allows up to14 instruments per bus to connect easily to a computer. HP-IB and HP programming language make off-the-shelf test systems possible.


  • John Young is named president (appointed CEO in 1978).
  • HP 8566/68A becomes the company's first 1Hz resolution spectrum analyzer.


  • First integrated microprocessor development system combines all the tools needed by hardware and software engineers.
  • HP 8566A microwave spectrum analyzer is introduced, which enables identification of low-level signals outside the range of earlier spectrum analyzers.
Company History Timeline - 1980s

In a decade of growing global presence and rapid economic change, the massive impact of computer technology on all product lines results not only in products with higher performance at lower cost, but also in radical changes in processes and the organization as a whole.


  • Signal Data Network is the first to relay data fast enough to allow monitoring of many different hospital beds from one central station.


  • The first computer controlled network analyzer is introduced, the HP 8510A.


  • World's first microprocessor-based network analyzer allows users to make fast and convenient magnitude or phase-response measurements in near real time across previously unheard-of frequency ranges.
  • Company establishes first high-tech joint venture in China.


  • The introduction of the HP 54100 makes it the first fully digital scope from any major test and measurement company.


  • Bill Hewlett retires as vice chairman of the board of directors.
  • Walter Hewlett (son of Bill) and David Woodley Packard (son of Dave) are elected to the HP board of directors.


  • Digital multimeter makes high-frequency, high-accuracy, and high-resolution voltage measurements with one instrument.
  • Analyzer able to measure terahertz transmission bandwidths is developed for use in optical telecommunications.
Company History Timeline - 1990s

The rate of change accelerates with Web-based information and applications becoming pervasive, competition intensifying and time-to-market cycles greatly reduced.


  • HP creates new test and measurement organization and appoints Ned Barnholt to lead it.
  • Company enters the sample preparation field with its new super-critical fluid extractor.


  • Acquisition of Avantek broadens the offering of components for the worldwide communications market.
  • The introduction of the HP 54600/54601 changes the game for everyday use of scopes by providing features of analog oscilloscopes with the accuracy and power of digital architecture.


  • New atomic clock is introduced. It becomes the world's most precise commercially available timekeeping device.
  • Test set generates and detects data streams of up to 2.5 billion data bits per second, allowing telecommunications manufacturers to verify the performance of transmission equipment.
  • Optical spectrum analyzer proves to be an important product for use in the fast growing optical communications field.
  • New modular oscilloscope is introduced, to be used in the design of high-speed digital electronics products.
  • Lewis E. Platt is named president and CEO.


  • AcceSS7 network monitoring system allows telecommunications customers to monitor all the elements on SS7 networks from a central location, increasing the efficiency of communications networks.
  • Company enters the digital integrated-circuit product-test market with the HP 83000 system.


  • Joint venture is established in China with Shanghai Analytical Instrument Factory.
  • The Broadband Series Test System emerges as an industry standard. First to test ATM and broadband ISDN networks-and first to integrate testing of all layers of this complex technology-the system helps the industry prove that these new technologies can form the basis of an information highway for transporting voice, data, image and video over the same network.


  • Decades of experience in quartz technology and cesium time standards result in timing synchronization products that enable networks to function with higher levels of accuracy and reliability needed to deliver new digital services for voice, data and video communication.
  • The industry's first low-cost, high-speed small infrared transceiver allows wireless "point and shoot" data exchange in a wide range of portable computing applications such as phones, computers, printers, cash registers, ATMs, digital cameras and more.
  • The broadband service analyzer is a new portable tool for installing broadband networks. It represents a breakthrough in ease of use. The analyzer can set up complex tests to measure network quality with the touch of a button, making complex ATM technology accessible.
  • The first Mixed Signal Oscilloscope (MSO) is introduced.


  • Co-founder David Packard dies on March 26.
  • Introduction of the 1100 Series liquid chromatograph mass selective detector. The HP 1100 is designed to help chemists support faster product-development cycles (such as those for new pharmaceuticals) and improve the quality of analytical results.
  • Creation of a network-timing synchronization for wired and wireless high-speed, digital networks eliminates many problems in transmitting data or images over telephone lines, such as dropped fax lines and modem disconnects, or in handing-off cellular calls from one base station to another, which can also result in dropped calls.


  • First Infiniium oscilloscope is introduced.


  • The innovative HP 3070 Series 3 board-test system allows manufacturers to test printed circuit boards faster and more effectively than before.
  • The HP 95000 HSM high-speed memory test system can be used for high-volume production testing of RDRAM chips. These chips operate at 800 MHz and offer memory-chip manufacturers the smallest footprint, lowest cost of test, and lowest-risk solution available.
  • The HP E6432A is a new VXI microwave synthesizer suited for a variety of automated-test applications, including field tests, avionics, communications systems and other manufacturing-test applications.
  • The TestBook Wireless is an integrated diagnostic solution that offers technicians centralized access to diagnostic and customer-service information in the service bay or field, thereby increasing technicians' productivity and reducing repair costs for customers.


  • HP announces strategic realignment to create an independent measurement company composed of test and measurement components, chemical analysis and medical businesses, and a computing and imaging company that includes all of HP's computing, printing and imaging businesses.
  • Agilent Technologies, the name of the new measurement company, is announced at historic brand-identity launch event in San Jose, Calif., announced by Agilent President and Chief Executive Officer Ned Barnholt.
  • Initial public stock offering on Nov. 18, 1999, raises $2.1 billion and breaks records as the largest IPO in Silicon Valley history.
Company History Timeline - 2000s

Following its successful IPO in 1999, Agilent Technologies becomes a fully independent measurement company focusing on high-growth markets in communications, electronics and life sciences. Recognized as an industry leader, Agilent is first worldwide in the test and measurement market.


  • On June 2, 2000, Agilent Technologies becomes a fully independent company, following HP's distribution of its Agilent shares to HP Shareholders.
  • The introduction of the company's Photonic Switching Platform accelerates the development of all-optical networks.
  • First all-digital IF-PSA spectrum analyzer is introduced.


  • Co-founder William R. Hewlett dies on January 12.
  • Acquisition of Objective System Integrators Inc. (OSI) enables the company to provide a complete solution to service providers who offer 3G wireless, optical, broadband Internet Protocol and voice over packet networks and services.


  • The new company's first listing on Fortune magazine's list of the top 500 U.S. companies: No. 212.
  • President and CEO Ned Barnholt named Chairman of the Board.
  • First MW Vector signal generator - PSG is introduced.


  • The company's Visual Engineering Environment (VEE) Pro system-development software provides the interface to test communication equipment in the Mars Exploration Rovers.


  • William P. (Bill) Sullivan is named Agilent President and CEO succeeding Edward W. (Ned) Barnholt.
  • The company forms a joint venture, Chengdu Instruments Division, to develop and manufacture test equipment for China and global market.
  • The company establishes Agilent Technologies China Holding Company Ltd., based in Shanghai, to consolidate its entities in China.


  • Yokogawa Analytical Systems becomes a wholly owned subsidiary.
  • The company introduces the E4898A Bit Error Ratio Tester (BERT) that is the industry's first to operate at speeds of up to 100 Gb/s.
  • The company introduces the MXA signal analysis platform.
  • All of the company's locations in the San Francisco Bay Area are consolidated into a single 55-acre campus in Santa Clara. Originally a manufacturing site built by HP in 1968, it is now the centralized location of many functions including the company's Corporate Headquarters formerly located in Palo Alto.


  • The E6651A is introduced and becomes the world's first integrated Mobile WiMAX test set enabling designers and manufacturers of Mobile WiMAX subscriber products to rapidly move from development to volume production -- improving the integrity and quality of WiMAX devices while reducing cost.


  • Agilent and SunPower Corporation dedicate a 1-megawatt solar tracking system at Agilent's Santa Rosa, Calif., campus. The largest solar energy generator in Sonoma County, the system is expected to displace more than 90 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to the emissions from approximately 7,500 cars.
  • The company launches the PNA-X Measurement Receiver -- the industry's fastest receiver for antenna test applications.


  • The company introduces the industry's first microwave signal generator that breaks the one-watt output power barrier, the PSG E8257D. The ultrahigh output of this instrument eliminates the need for supplementary hardware such as amplifiers, couplers and detectors.
  • Also introduced this year is an inline error injection tool (Jammer) for PCI Express(r) (PCIe) protocol testing. This breakthrough concept for PCIe testing is the only tool of this type in the industry and allows developers to shorten test cycles and improve time to market of their device.
Company History Timeline - 2010s

As the company moves into this decade it undergoes a major transformation. In 2013 Agilent Technologies announces that it will split into two separate pure-play measurement companies. The name of the new electronic measurement company is announced later in the year as Keysight Technologies.

During 2014 the separation process continues and on November 1 Keysight Technologies becomes a fully separate electronic measurement company.

On November 3, 2014, Keysight lists on the New York Stock Exchange, under ticker symbol KEYS, completing the final phase of its separation from Agilent.

And the story continues…