Although most people now know Hewlett-Packard as a leading manufacturer of computers and printers, old-timers knew them as the pre-eminent maker of electronics test and measurement gear. They actually got started making computers as a sideline. The computers were to be used to control the instrumentation in automatic test setups; they never intended for computers to be their main business.
|The Hewlett-Packard logo from AN 15, “Distortion and Intermodulation,” published in January 1964.|
Computers, especially computer printers, eventually overtook test instrumentation in terms of revenue and manpower. This lead to a desire to split up the company, since the business of making and selling a mass-market product like computers is much different than making and selling precision instrumentation. The split became official in late 1999. The new company was named Agilent Technologies.
Why all the history? Well, Agilent has just posted more than 230 “classic” Hewlett-Packard application notes on their website. Many of these date back to the early 1960s.
They may be old, but they’re certainly not obsolete. For example, the first three listed include:
- AN 15, Distortion and Intermodulation
- AN 16, Waves on Transmission Lines
- AN 30, Measurement of Cable Characteristics
This material is basic stuff, and just as applicable today as it was in the Sixties. Be forewarned, though. These app notes were written by engineers, for engineers, so the mathematics can get a little hairy. Even so, working through that might be well worth the effort.
Thanks to Chris, KA8WFC, for turning me on to these app notes. As he notes, “One could get a nice RF background just studying these app notes—although having all that sexy test gear wouldn’t hurt!”