Electronic Test Equipment

Electronic test equipment is the heart of the electronics industry, the bleeding edge of electronics innovation and quality. No manufacturer demonstrates that better than Hewlett-Packard, whose test equipment is generally considered the paragon of electronics engineering, a standard which has never been met by another company.

Hewlett-Packard 130C Oscilloscope
 Hewlett-Packard 130C Oscilloscope

The HP 130C is a single-trace vacuum tube oscilloscope with identical X and Y circuits for true XY performance. The 130C contains 17 tubes, not counting the CRT and a half dozen neon glow lamps. Among the tubes are two RCA 7586 Nuvistor triodes and a host of specially aged, high performance Amperex and Telefunken diodes, triodes and pentodes.

The 130C has been called "the last good scope HP ever made". Despite HP's total dominance in every other area of test equipment, their line of oscilloscopes has not shown such a flawless track record. Most oscilloscopes manufactured by HP from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s have been mediocre at best, leaving room for Tektronix and other manufacturers.

130C Oscilloscope Operating & Service Manual (PDF)
130C Oscilloscope Calibration Procedure (PDF)

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Hewlett-Packard 410B Vacuum Tube Voltmeter
 Hewlett-Packard 410B Vacuum Tube Voltmeter

The Hewlett-Packard 410B has been called the Cadillac of vacuum tube voltmeters, and is considered by many to be the finest voltmeter ever built. The most striking feature of the 410B is its high frequency probe, which has either a 2-01C or EA53 rectifier tube installed in the probe tip. The 410B's combination of high impedance and high frequency capabilities make it a superior VTVM which is still in wide use by ham radio operators and other hobbyists.

410B Operating & Servicing Manual (PDF)

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Hewlett-Packard 1300A X-Y Display
 Hewlett-Packard 1300A X-Y Display

The HP 1300A was a revolution in scientific display technology. Introduced in the late 1960s, the 1300A utilized a new type of CRT which incorporated an expansion mesh post-accelerator, a component which dramatically increased the screen size to tube length ratio. This allowed for a much larger display to be housed in a chassis of standard depth. The 1300A featured a 14" screen, at a time when a typical high-speed scientific vector display measured 5". This dramatic increase in display size resulted in an explosion of graphical output applications, supplanting the once-prevalent numerical and dial readouts of the past. The 1300A was rapidly implemented in various HP systems, and is the vector display of choice for early HP minicomputers.

The HP 1300A would go on to become the world's first commercially available graphical CRT computer display, and is credited with a number of noteworthy accomplishments:

-The 1300A was the surgery room display in the world's first artificial heart transplant, an artificial left ventricle device designed and implanted by Dr. Michael DeBakey in 1967.

-The 1300A was used by computer engineer Alan Kay in his FLEX "personal computer". Kay was influenced to adopt a graphical interface after witnessing Doug Engelbart's demonstration of the Computer Network as part of the legendary "Mother of all Demos". Engelbart's demonstration also used a 1300A display.

-The 1300A was the display in the first coin-operated video arcade system, Galaxy Game, a student-built machine at Stanford University. Much like Atari's commercially produced Computer Space arcade machine, Galaxy Game ran a variant of Space War. Unlike the Atari system, which used consumer-grade custom hardware, Galaxy Game ran on a DEC PDP11/20 minicomputer. Galaxy Game predated the release of Computer Space by two months.

Despite its widespread use in the late 1960s and 1970s, the 1300A is quite rare today. Undoubtedly many have met the same fate as other, less prestigious CRTs, and were recycled into beer cans many years ago.

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Hewlett-Packard 2912A Reed Scanner
 Hewlett-Packard 2912A Reed Scanner

The Hewlett-Packard 2912A Reed Scanner is a scarce component of HP's first-generation data acquisition systems. It is a modular, expandable input scanner capable of switching up to 1000 channels (40 in mainframe) at up to 40 channels per second. The 2921A and 2922A plug-in modules each provide 10 channels, and the 2923A provides 9 channels. Though capable of independent operation, the 2912A was often controlled by a HP 2100 series computer.

2912A Reed Scanner 1969 Catalog Excerpt (PDF)

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Hewlett-Packard 4955A Protocol Analyzer
 Hewlett-Packard 4955A Protocol Analyzer

The Hewlett-Packard 4955A is an obscure cousin of the HP 9825 desktop calculator, a minicomputer-class system used extensively in scientific and engineering fields in the 1970s. Instead of being built for arithmetic and programming, the 4955A is optimized for network analysis, research and development. The 4955A is built upon the HP 5061-3011 16-bit hybrid microprocessor, equivalent to an enhanced HP 2100-series minicomputer on two NMOS dies.

4955A Datasheet (PDF)
Protocol Analyzer Comparison Sheet (PDF)

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Hewlett-Packard 8010A Pulse Generator
 Hewlett-Packard 8010A Pulse Generator

The Hewlett-Packard 8010A Pulse Generator is an extremely powerful dual-channel device which allows the generation of complex digital pulses with custom rise and fall times, at rates up to 1MHz. The 8010A is a particularly obscure piece of equipment; only a few examples are known to exist.

8010A Pulse Generator 1970 Catalog Excerpt (PDF)

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Hewlett-Packard 8016A Word Generator
 Hewlett-Packard 8016A Word Generator

The Hewlett-Packard 8016A Word Generator is a unique type of computational signal generator, which allows the construction, storage and output of one, two, four or eight binary words up to 256 bits in total size, at frequencies up to 50MHz. The 8016A can generate RZ or NRZ pulse shapes at either TTL or ECL voltage levels, and offers standard and inverse outputs for all eight channels. The 8016A has an internal clock with output signal and synch out, and can also be driven by an external clock.

The 8016A allows total control over the binary input of a logic device under evaluation, whose resultant output can then be examined by a contemporaneous logic state analyzer. To this day, the 8016A remains an invaluable and irreplaceable piece of test equipment, with truly limitless utility in the modern era of hobby computer electronics.

8016A Datasheet (PDF)
8016A Operating and Service Manual (PDF)

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