Sep 192012

The Programming Rules from HP’s Garage

By Andrew Binstock, September 18, 2012

The garage where Bill Hewlett and David Packard founded HP had its own core set of rules. They apply equally to programming.

The garage in Palo Alto where HP was born was the workplace of only two employees, the founders. Yet, to keep their core beliefs front and center as they tinkered and toiled, they posted a sign that articulated the guiding principles they shared:

  • Believe you can change the world.
  • Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
  • Know when to work alone and when to work together.
  • Share tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
  • No Politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)
  • The customer defines a job well done.
  • Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
  • Invent different ways of working.
  • Make a contribution every day. If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage.
  • Believe that together we can do anything.
  • Invent.

Succinct and to the point, the overarching core beliefs were to work together, invent useful things, and let the customer be the final arbiter. These principles are just as applicable today for start-ups as they are for established companies.


HP one of the best consumer products in their days – Classics, Woodstocks, Spices, Nuts,
Voyagers, and Pioneers calculators sated in their manuals until 1980:
“The success and prosperity of our company will be assured only if we offer our customers
superior products that fill real needs and provide lasting value, and that are supported by a
wide variety of useful services, both before and after sales.”
Statement of Corporate Objectives.

 Posted by at 9:28 pm

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