Ground Zero for HP's Workstation Business

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Ground Zero for HP's Workstation Business

Hewlett-Packard's Fort Collins, Colo., location was established in February 1977. Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager for HP's Commercial Solutions Business Unit (a 27-year HP employee), and Director of Workstation Engineering Ron Rogers (a 30-year HP employee) are typical members of the veteran management here, most of whom have been employed here for many years.

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Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Ron Rogers, director of workstation engineering at Hewlett-Packard, gives an overview of the company's workstation product lineup during a tour of the Fort Collins R&D facility.

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10-Meter Testing Chamber

As one might imagine, HP performs numerous tests on its workstations, most of which most people would never know about, before they go to market. In this customized 10-meter-high steel-box and sound-cushioned room, workstations are bombarded with electromagnetic waves to ensure that they do not interfere with licensed communications channels and that various FCC and international regulations are obeyed. If there's a leak in a computer or one of its components, this test will find it.

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Static Electricity and Wave Test Chamber

This smaller testing room on the Fort Collins campus tests workstations for static electricity issues. Both testing rooms are completely noise-free and a good place to go and think or meditate, if you're not claustrophobic.

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X-Raying Devices to See What's the Matter

Among the many standard testing procedures—especially for identifying and fixing problems with products out in the field—is an X-ray test. This is a standard hospital X-ray machine that is optimized for looking through metal and plastic and can show a technician exactly what's happening inside. In this photo, Dr. Paul Mazurkiewicz is examining a watch to see what's causing it to run slow.

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Designing Custom Parts

HP designs, models and builds most of its own parts in its Modeling Lab—anything from a computer tower handle (shown here) to tiny screws to logo labels.

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3D Modeling

HP uses high-quality 3D CAD in its design-and-model shop for thousands of parts used inside and outside its workstations.

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Dave Randall, Master Modeler

Dave Randall shows journalists the shop he runs with all the tools needed to design and make the original parts for HP's workstations.

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HP's First Workstation Had a 7-Inch Monitor

HP's 9826 was the company's first production workstation. It ran HP-UX, a derivative of Unix, as its operating system. The HP 9000 brand was introduced in 1984 to encompass several existing technical workstation models previously launched in the early 1980s. The HP 9000 finally reached the end of its sales life in 2008.

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New and Old, Side-by-Side

HP's Z Series workstation (left), introduced in February 2012, is the latest successor to the 9826 (right). A 27-inch monitor, HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display, is used by the DreamWorks animation studio for movies such as "How to Train Your Dragon" and the Shrek series.

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Head-to-Head Competitors: Apple vs. HP

Apple's iMac (left) has long been considered the standard in the video imaging industry. But HP says it is gaining ground in the market and expects to continue to take market share with its Z series machines (right).

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Time for Z1's Close-Up

Animation for films and video games is the key target market for HP's Z-series workstations.

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Crash Testing 101

Once the workstations are designed and built, testing continues. In this test, technician Carlos Trujillo loads a fully packaged Z1 on a special machine (rear) that drops the box from specified heights—just as if FedEx, UPS or someone else might do during shipping.

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Where the Originals Go to Rest

Ever wonder where all the original products are kept? HP has an archive in Fort Collins just for that purpose. Here, Quicksilver Eddy (his real name) explains how entire workstations and all their various parts are cleaned, packed and catalogued for posterity—going back generations. If a customer with an older machine needs a problem fixed, HP can always go back to this vault and find the product to research and solve the problem.

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A Z1 Is Archived for Posterity

A Z1 gets archived here for generations to come. One of these workstations has as many as 10,000 parts, and all are archived.

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Customized for Chevy Corvette

HP's Fort Collins campus has a small museum showing the iterations of all the workstations that have been built there. This one was a customized for Chevrolet's Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Ky.

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Signature Work

When a product is finally finished and goes to production (sometimes a workstation will take years from concept to finished product), the designers and engineers who participated have a party and everyone signs the first one out of the factory—much like Detroit does with automobiles.

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