Origin of the Agilent Archives

For the first post I thought it would be best to start at the beginning. In this case I don’t mean the original business plan or even the garage. I want to begin this blog with the origins of the archives program here at Agilent. Corporate archives are relatively uncommon in the world of historical preservation since not many company’s take on the challenge of staffing and supporting endeavors to safeguard their legacy for employees, customers and historians.

It‘s probably not a great surprise that the original attempts to start a historical collection date back to the early 1970’s. However, the archives program itself didn’t begin until 1987 when the company’s 50 th Anniversary project was begun and there was an immediate need to not only asses and organize HP’s historical resources but to make them accessible as well. With nearly five decades worth of material that was no small task.

Later that year the work on the anniversary project went from being a temporary effort to a permanent archival program within Corporate Public Relations Services. The original objectives were to identify, collect, preserve and provide access to the company’s vast array of historical material. It this very well and over time the collection grew and needed larger and larger accommodations.

When the test and measurement divisions of HP split from the company in 1999 to form Agilent Technologies the historical collection split as well. After many discussions it was decided that the collection would be split along product lines and where necessary items would be duplicated so both collections could share those materials. It is important to note here that because the original product lines were all test and measurement equipment, the bulk of the early documents and instruments all came with us to Agilent.

The collection continues to grow and today it is part of the Agilent Foundation. In this capacity it not only serves to preserve the company’s history but has additionally added a History Center where anyone can view displays about the company’s long legacy of innovation. The History Center and Archives has hundreds of visitors every year that come from all over the world. True, many of these are customers visiting the site for other reasons as well, but there are also a significant percentage of visitors who come simply to enjoy the collection on its own merits and to get a glimpse of what is one of the most important companies in the History of the Silicon Valley.