Wildfire 'destroys' Hewlett Packard archives

Documents and personal correspondence of William Hewlett and David Packard were not in blaze, says HP

A historical archive of one of Silicon Valley's earliest technology startups, Hewlett Packard, has reportedly been destroyed in the fires that have swept through the Santa Rosa area in California over the weekend.

The physical archive, which contained 100 boxes of company documents, speeches and the personal correspondence of founders William Hewlett and David Packard, went up in smoke when the fires spread to two "modular buildings" on HP's campus, according to the Press Democrat newspaper. However, HP has since said this correspondence remains intact, and that the fire affected another archive.

The collection was reportedly valued at $2 million and dated back to the foundation of the company in 1938. However, it will have been considered by many historians as a priceless collection, chronicling both the earliest days of Silicon Valley and one of the most recognisable companies in technology.

HP was founded in a shed in 1938 by Hewlett and Packard, backed by just $538 in funding. Originally in the business of audio hardware, HP would eventually become the world's largest manufacturer of personal computers.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

An archive was being stored at Keysight Technologies, which split from Agilent Technologies in 2014; both companies trace their roots back to HP.

The fires that engulfed the two buildings were part of the wildfires that spread throughout Santa Rosa county, killing at least 23 people and destroying 6,800 homes and businesses. The rest of the Keysight campus avoided most of the fires and sustained relatively little damage.

UPDATE 31/10/2017: An HP Inc spokesperson said in a statement emailed to IT Pro: "At the time of the separation of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc., archives were established to ensure the 75+ year history was preserved. These archives are housed in Atlanta, Georgia. During the recent Santa Rosa fire, archives owned by Keysight Technologies (a company spun off from Agilent Technologies; once part of HP) suffered damage.

"Reports that HP founder archives burned are misleading. HP's sites were not impacted and archives remain intact in both physical and digital formats. HP's archives contain hundreds of items related to HP's founders including many examples of speeches, personal correspondence, writings and other materials. In addition, many other materials from the founders are part of public collections, such as the William Hewlett papers (1907-2010) held by Stanford University. The HP Garage where the company was founded is a historical landmark noted as the birthplace of Silicon Valley and serves as a private museum."

IT Pro has asked both HP and Keysight what archived files were actually lost.

Picture: Bigstock

Featured Resources

Digital Risk Report 2020

A global view into the impact of digital transformation on risk and security management

Download now

6 ways your business could suffer if you don’t backup Office 365

Office 365 makes it easy to lose valuable data regularly, unpredictably, unintentionally, and for good

Download now

Get the best out of your workforce

7 steps to unleashing their true potential with robotic process automation

Download now

8 digital best practices for IT professionals

Don't leave anything to chance when going digital

Download now



HP Spectre x360 13-aw0053na (2020) review: A diamond in the rough

18 Feb 2020
mergers and acquisitions

Xerox turns to public stocks in merger war with HP

12 Feb 2020
mergers and acquisitions

Xerox to nominate directors to HP's board – reports

22 Jan 2020

The IT Pro Products of the Year 2019: All the year’s best hardware

24 Dec 2019

Most Popular


How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

5 Feb 2020
artificial intelligence (AI)

AI identifies 11 earth-bound asteroids

18 Feb 2020
operating systems

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

12 Feb 2020

The top ten password-cracking techniques used by hackers

10 Feb 2020