Last Friday, August 1, the part of Agilent Technologies that makes test and measurement gear changed its name to Keysight (one-word, no intercap) Technologies, and separated itself financially from the part that was HP Labs. That part will continue to be called Agilent Labs, and will continue to do research in life sciences, microelectromechanical machines, and nanotechnology, and will get to keep the “Agilent” Moniker. Actually, for employees, there is to be little geographical displacement, although the top brass will now be headquartered in an enlarged facility in Santa Rosa, where the microwave operations have been for some time. Workers in Colorado are staying put and there seems to be some sharing of the old Hewlett-Packard facilities in Santa Clara among T&M workers.
The old Agilent, you may remember, was spun off from HP in 1999, when the company decided to divest itself of any products that were not computers or computer peripherals. HP Labs went along with that spinoff, but now it’s going to be Keysight Labs, a separate entity.
Getting back to the test equipment part of Keysight, which is what emerged last Monday, my own experience with HP goes back to the early ‘70s, when the antenna company I was working for bought one of the first of HP’s network analyzers. In minutes, it measured and plotted scattering parameters and plotted, if you wanted, VSWR, insertion loss, and return loss. Hooray! No more cranking the old slotted line! At roughly the same time, that was where I first saw an HP Model 35 pocket calculator. (Naturally, it belonged to a consultant; the rest of us used a TeleType KSR 33 to access a BASIC interpreter on Tymenet.)
What I’m saying is that HP was a remarkable innovator, back in the day, and they hung on to that level of engineering excellence through my time at Tek, when they were the competitor the to beat. Then they passed the baton on to Agilent, which took it up and ran with it, based on what I’ve been seeing since I took on the test and measurement beat at Electronic Design. Now it’s up to Keysight to carry on the tradition.