Palo Alto, Calif.
After graduating with degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford in 1934, Bill Hewlett and David Packard forged a friendship during a two-week camping and fishing trip in Colorado. Four years later the pair began working part-time on a product based on Hewlett's study of negative feedback in a rented Palo Alto garage with $538 in cash and a used drill press. The result: the HP200A, an audio oscillator designed to test sound equipment. One of their first customers was Walt Disney Studios (DIS), which purchased eight of the devices to test a new sound system for the movie Fantasia.
In 1939 the men formalized their partnership, flipping a coin to decide their startup's name. Hewlett-Packard continued to create innovative tech products throughout the 1940s. It also become known for its equally innovative open corporate culture and management style. By 1942, HP had eight employees and $522,803 in yearly revenue. In 1961, the company was earning $87.9 million and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Today the company that introduced laser jet printers, touch screens, and personal computers is a global behemoth with $104.3 billion in annual sales.