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HP 200CD and Online HP Museums

December 1, 2008

HP 200CD wide range oscillator

HP 200CD wide range oscillator

I recently acquired a HP 200CD ‘wide range’ oscillator.  I knew this was an early HP product so I did a little checking on the web to find out the background.  Turns out this product was a descendant of an audio frequency oscillator that was the first product HP built, the HP 200A, back in 1938. This oscillator was developed over the years, with the next one being the HP 200B.  Eight of those oscillators were sold to Disney studios for setting up theatres for the movie Fantasia. The oscillator I have, the 200CD, was produced in 1952 and from another website I found that it remained in their product catalogue until 1985. Really quite an amazing period of time. Seems it was their last vacuum tube product, according to the last link.  It was called a ‘wide range’ oscillator as it went from 5 Hz to 600 kHz. I suspect mine is probably of a 1960s vintage and it still has the leather strap and it works.

I was surprised to find some excellent websites and web pages with details of the history of HP and its products.  This company is so well known for its test and computer equipment, including printers, it is fascinating to see the evolution of this company and its product line.  From its start in a garage in Palo Alto, California to its establishment of a set of global laboratories around the World in the 21st Century, there are some nice details of this successful and important company.

Here are some of the museum and history links:

If you want more detailed images of the HP 200CD oscillator check the rotating image here (which uses Java runtime) or the six sided view is here (notice you can print this and then glue the edges to make your own paper cut out 200CD!!).

Finally, I had a good blast of nostalgia when I saw the HP 85 personal computer in the HP museum.  I wrote and modified quite a lot of code on those as a young physicist working in the optical fibre industry in the 1980s. Great for interfacing to test equipment. Anyone remember that machine with its tiny screen and little thermal printer? I wonder how much one of those costs now!

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