Building One of the World's Largest Technology Businesses (and How to Have Fun and Profit from Your Hobbies)

author: Frank Cloutier, Hewlet Packard
published: Feb. 4, 2013,   recorded: March 2004,   views: 2680

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Anyone who remembers the din of a dot matrix printer at full throttle can appreciate the invention of inkjet printing. For this, we have Frank Cloutier and his prescient Hewlett-Packard team to thank. When HP decided to get into the print market in 1979, “we were called lunatic,” said Cloutier. At an early team meeting, someone showed a cover of National Geographic Magazine, featuring a gorgeous, multicolor photograph of a tropical bird. “This is what we want to do,” Cloutier remembers everyone saying -- and then set about inventing the technology to make it possible. Through this story, Cloutier presents a prime example of the concept "begin with the end in mind."

HP wanted “an invisible ink system -- ink you couldn’t see on the hands.” The breakthrough notion was using resistors to heat up ink to a point just before it turns gaseous, and forcing it through tiny nozzles onto paper. This kind of “invention by inspiration,” as Cloutier puts it, has led HP to the #1 position in the printing and imaging industry—with 300 million printers shipped and $24 billion in business last year. “Don’t waste miracles,” says Cloutier, but keep in mind the breakthrough invention is just the beginning of the job.

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