RealTime IT News

Where in The World Are HP's Founders?

Even for Silicon Valley, this is one weird marketing gimmick.

It started with a life-size cut out of HP founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard hitchhiking next to the famous garage where they started the company.

And that's not even the weirdest part.

Artist Julie Newdoll and a group of other creative types had an idea for an art project that even Christo would probably find amusing.

The group of artists and sculptors created the plywood models of high tech figures like Hewlett and Packard, vacuum tube inventor Lee De Forest, Frederick Terman, transistor inventor William Shockley and Intel co-founder Robert Noyce.

Newdoll told the San Francisco Chronicle that the group placed the cut-outs alongside various roadways, with printed instructions on the back to let drivers know where to deliver them (that's why the figures have their thumbs out in a hitchhiking pose).

Newdoll's husband, Sun Microsystems engineer Mario Wolczko, added global positioning systems complete with Java phone so the cut outs progress could be followed on a Web site.

In the case of HP, the group wanted to deliver the founder's cut outs to the company itself for display at its Palo Alto headquarters, but was turned away.

Enter Sun Microsystems , which volunteered to buy the figures for $6,000 and has been busy parading them around the Sun campus.

In a blog post headlined "Acquiring Hewlett Packard's Legacy," Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said he was happy to tweak HP a bit.

He said he also wanted to bring back a bit of the humor and mischief that's been missing from Sun in recent years.

"I'd like to officially declare, herewith, a rebirth of fun at Sun. Good, cheap, drive the other guys up a wall, fun," wrote Schwartz.

HP said it had no comment for this story.

But Sun, known for its hardball marketing tactics, couldn't quite keep it all light-hearted.

Larry Singer, Sun's senior vice president, strategic insights officer, said in another Sun Blog posting:

"By abandoning HP-UX, HP has proven they just don't care about their legacy customers. I suppose it's only fitting they'd abandon their inventive founders, as well - so just as we're rescuing their customers with Solaris, the world's fastest growing open source operating, even running it on HP's own x64 hardware, we figured we'd rescue Bill and Dave, too."

Schwartz said in his blog posting that "Bill and Dave are absolute legends, held in the deepest respect by all of us at Sun."