Heritage of Innovation: Interview with Dave Cochran

Dave Cochran with Phil McKinney


Are there lessons we can learn from the people who innovated before us? The Heritage of Innovation podcasts are a series of interviews I will be conducting with people who created killer innovations that changed the world.  We will relive some great milestones in the history of technology and learn lessons on the nature of innovation from the people who were the driving force behind some of the world’s most important breakthroughs.

My first interview is with Dave Cochran, the product manager of the calculator that literally changed the world. Called the HP-35 after the number of its keys, it was the first calculator that could perform all of the functions of the slide rule to 10-digit precision. It was created at the request of William Hewlett himself, and the team pushed on with it despite warnings that it would fail.  

Throughout the interview, Dave, who was also part of the team recently awarded a Milestone award for his work on the HP-35 project, shares a lot of experiences and anecdotes about his work with Bill Hewlett and David Packard, along with stories about other team members including Steve Wozniak. Fittingly for this community, he even describes how the next bench concept worked:

“The set up in the laboratory was that you had a desk and behind it you had a bench...You were always looking over at what your buddy was doing because you were curious, and sometimes his project was more interesting than yours. But sometimes you would see things that were really exciting and you’d say ‘ah’...I could use something like that right now. Can you give me a prototype?...There was that back and forth.”

Download the full podcast here.

Message Edited by Phil on 07-27-2009 02:47 PM
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