Steve Jobs has had a long history with HP. It is apocryphal that—at least in his early career—two of his heroes were Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the founders of HP. Now, in Jobs’ upcoming biography, a story has surfaced that shows that Jobs never gave up that fondness.
The story comes as Jobs was being asked about the success of the iPad and the folding of WebOS and its hardware products like the TouchPad.
While some Apple board members were happy that Hewlett-Packard gave up trying to compete with Apple’s iPad, Jobs did not think it was cause for celebration.
“Hewlett and Packard built a great company, and they thought they had left it in good hands,” Jobs told Isaacson. “But now it’s being dismembered and destroyed.”
“I hope I’ve left a stronger legacy so that will never happen at Apple,” he added.
Jobs brought up the HP connection again just recently, when he spoke to the Cupertino Town Council about building a new campus on the site of the old HP grounds.
When I was 13, I think, I called up—Hewlett and Packard were my idols—and I called up Bill Hewlett because he lived in Palo Alto, and there were no unlisted phone numbers in the phone book, which gives you a clue to my age.
“And he picked up the phone, and I talked to him and I asked him if he’d give me some spare parts for something I was building called a frequency counter, and he did. But in addition to that, he gave me something way more important, he gave me a job that summer … at Hewlett-Packard right here in Santa Clara off (Interstate)280, (the) division that built frequency counters, and I was heaven.
Jobs obviously felt that HP had many of the qualities that Apple did, at least in its early days. And seeing HP brought down, eventually giving up the consumer hardware business almost entirely. It’s telling that no matter how successful Apple was at his death, he was still worried that it would suffer the same fate.
This is likely why Jobs vested an immense amount of power in design chief Jony Ive, who he said was his “spiritual partner.”