The oscilloscope is really the root of many other inventions in electronics. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their electronics empire by building oscilloscopes in a garage south of San Fransisco.

What brought this up? I looked at Digg this morning, and found one of the most dugg items was an article from Newsweek - an interview with Steve Jobs from their archives. He credited Hewlett and Packard with inspiring Apple, and makes several comparisons between himself and Woz and the pair who preceded them 40 years earlier. HP Scope - 1956

But back to that oscilloscope. This 1956 model looks quite antique compared to the digital scopes that I use today. But imagine debugging a serial bus (RS232) without a scope. Imagine Major Armstrong creating FM without it. Imagine AMPS, dAMPS, or GSM being invented without an oscilloscope. Imagine building electronic medical monitors without looking at the signals. Hewlett-Packard was not the first company to manufacture an Oscilloscope. But they provided much equipment that made everything that has happened in Silicon Valley over the last fifty years. The first three that come to mind are scopes, hand-held calculators, and printers and plotters.

Would there have been an Apple without an HP? It sounds like Steve Jobs feels like there would not have been one - not just because of the technology, but because of the entrepreneurial strategy taken by Hewlett and Packard.