• HP, err, Agilent, has a new name…

      AgilentSparkLogo125   KeysightLogo

    So, HP, err, I mean Agilent, have a new name – Keysight Technologies. That’s as big a news as it gets in the electronics industry, but as Julius Sumner Miller said, why is it so?

    Does anyone care if they change their name?
    You bet!
    In 1939 Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard put their own names behind their new business, and on a coin toss, Hewlett Packard it was. Since then generations of electronics engineers have grown up with the HP name, and trusted it as the biggest name in the Test & Measurement business. The name was everything, just like other companies named after their founder(s), like Fluke for example, the name means everything. Even if Bill & Dave haven’t had a hand in things for a long time, the personal name still meant something, everyone knew Bill & Dave, and they trusted their stuff. This shit is personal!

    That’s why in 1999, HP splitting off anything not related to computers into a new company was a real punch in the gut to electronics nerds everywhere. Not really the splitting up part (that was generally deemed a good thing), but the computer division getting the fabled HP name, whilst the true heart and soul of the old HP, the instruments division got a new name, Agilent. That sucked, and many say was the end of the real HP.

    It was such a punch in the gut, that many engineers even today, 14 years later, still call Agilent gear “HP”. The sales guys must hate it! It took me a decade to get over it, but I still catch myself calling them HP to this day.

    Now, at the time I thought the choice of Agilent as the name wasn’t too bad. It sounded kinda “professional” in some way, even if I thought it did have something to do with the new  “Agile” management craze sweeping the corporate world at the time. It certainly could have been a lot worse.

    But the Agilent “spark” logo sucked, it really did. Almost like it was just selected from some clipart library. But no doubt some marketing wanker got paid big bucks to come up with and a stupid meaning behind it.

    But in the end I think the change to the Agilent name actually worked, or at least didn’t hurt them. You were proud to say “hey, come check out my new Agilent scope”, it didn’t sound silly. So with hindsight, changing the name of the T&M division didn’t really hurt it financially or technology-wise, but I guess we’ll never know if changing the name of the computer division would have helped or hindered HP. But the computer part of HP ended up being a train wreck anyway.

    But anyone with any sense of the company history knows that the HP name should have gone with the T&M division. But hey, corporate politics doesn’t work like that, it’s strictly numbers and what high paid consultants tell them.

    And that brings us to the latest renaming. The 1999 split-up wasn’t perfect, because unknown to quite a lot of us T&M nerds, the “life sciences” part went with Agilent too, and that was a huge part of HP/Agilent. Bigger in fact than the T&M division. And so once again Agilent has grown to too big for it’s own good, or at least it’s been too long between major shakeups, whichever came first. Because that’s what boards and CEO’s like to do, you know, that high falutin “strategic” stuff we mere mortals can’t possibly comprehend.

    The powers-that-be have determined that it would be better to split the company up yet again, and that will allow each division to better focus on core products.
    a.k.a an internal bitch fight over which division makes more profit margin, and who’s carrying whom… and there is probably some short term market gain in it too, what a bonus.

    So we find ourselves in the same situation as before. The heart and soul of HP, err, Agilent, the T&M division, is being cast aside and given a new name. Hey, it worked before, right? Only this time, it’s arse-about. We have the niche, high priced, lower volume life sciences division getting to keep the name. But the life sciences health care part of the share market is huge, and makes all the money, didn’t you know? This split could make the share price jump because they are casting off that weird T&M stuff that the market analysts don’t understand. Well, ok, fair enough from a share brokers perspective I guess, this change makes financial and stategic sense, so no hard feelings.

    Us T&M nerds are tough, we can handle another name change!

    Then, after a couple of months of breathless anticipation, we just found out they are calling it “Keysight Technologies”. WTF?

    Seriously, WTF!? This name sucks arse.
    It sounds like some Wun Hung Lo company on ebay selling rip-off phone chargers.
    They may as well have called it the “Happy Lucky Instrument Co”.

    At least Agilent had a professional kind of ring to it when used as a single word .
    Hey, check out my new Agilent scope” works.
    Hey, check out my new Keysight scope” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

    Keysight Technologies can now expect even more push-back than they had against Agilent. And I suspect no amount of marketing $$$ will save this one like it did last time.
    In fact, I think there might be a roaring trade in black market old-school HP badges, to retrofit over the new Keysight name. Ebay sellers will pop up within a matter of weeks.

    I’m a parent, and someone once told that you shouldn’t name your kid something that sounds stupid when you have to yell it out at the top of your lungs in public. And that you should actually try yelling it out a few times to see what it sounds like before you chose. I suspect someone at Agilent failed to do the shout test.

    Keysight is a name you get when you design it by committee. And it seems they have. They admit that the new name is based on their new slogan “Unlocking Measurement Insights for the last 75 years.
    It seems that someone got infatuated with this “measurements insight” stuff, and found a name to fit. Bingo, Keysight, because, well, I’ll let Ron Nersesian the new CEO explain it in fluent marketing Klingon:

    What Keysight means.
    Keysight is built from two English words: key, meaning indispensable or essential, a means of access; and insight, meaning the power of seeing, having vision and perception. The name connotes seeing what others cannot, having the critical or key insight to understand and unlock the changing technology landscape. 

    The name Keysight reflects our rich heritage–a direct line from both Hewlett-Packard’s standards of integrity and innovation and Agilent’s premier measurement business. We believe our new name captures the spirit of our organization and the DNA of our employees –innovative, insightful and forward-looking. 

    Keysight is built on ‘firsts’ dating back to the birth of HP and Silicon Valley 75 years ago this year, and as a new company we are committed to bringing you a new generation of firsts – unlocking insights for you so you can in turn bring a new generation of technologies into the world. 


    The name Keysight conveys the ability to see what others cannot, offering the critical or key insights to understand and unlock the changing technology landscape. The new company’s tagline, “unlocking measurement insights for 75 years,” commemorates the 1939 birth of the original Hewlett-Packard Company, from which Keysight originated.

    But hey, there is that token nod to Bill & Dave, that gem of a tie-in must have really sold the suits!

    But wait!, they didn’t screw up everything, I like the new logo, I think it works for a T&M company. So this time they got the logo right, but screwed the pooch on the name, well done. Does anyone outside of the HP board of suits like this new name? Did they give the valuable employees a vote I wonder? I’d be surprised if support hits double digits. But hey, you can’t do these things by popular vote, someone’s got to have the balls to make a decision. Too bad you cop all the flack when it sucks. Maybe if you asked them if would have sucked less? I think the decision should have gone to the guy with the longest grey beard.

    But wait, there’s more!

    It seems this wasn’t their only logo choice though, as someone on the EEVblog forum quickly found out when they googled imaged the new name.
    It brings up a patent and trademark aggregator site that lists the registrations for at least one alternative logo:

    And further research on the filing attorney’s portfolio shows what looks like several possible alternative company names as well! (disclaimer: I could be wrong, but look at the identical industry scopes on each one)

    Holy dodgy PR consultancy wank words Batman!
    Keysight, was actually a good pick, I stand corrected.
    Here is the company involved in the new name, a “catch word” “naming agency” that went through over 5000 name to pick out this gem!


    So what’s in store for Keysight Technologies?

    Good news is that the split will mean more focus on T&M, with the CEO and board just dedicated to that. A good move, just like it was last time from a management and focus perspective. Focus is important.

    Bad news it seems they are not expected to pay a dividend. That means the shareholders will eventually push them to slash costs if they can’t turn the new T&M company into a profit-making machine quickly. And when big companies like this slash costs, you know what that means, they slash across the board, and that means cutting those really talented engineers that have been producing the magic for the last half century that drives our industry. And they are what makes the company.
    But the management there are probably amateurs at this, and if it does occur it shouldn’t have the same blood from a stone brutality as the legendary Danaher Business System.
    And another thing, a smaller market cap HP, err Keysight, might make an easier takeover target too, but lets not go there.

    I hope that doesn’t happen though, because HP are still the best in the business, and deserve to stay that way. Another name change won’t matter a rats arse, it’ll be business as usual, with many of us sticking to calling them HP. Which is why I don’t know they they bothered with a wanky name that they thought would mean something to their customers. It doesn’t, you failed, we’ll buy HP no matter what you are called. So you should have just picked a cool name that meant nothing at all. But heck, if you really had to make it mean something, why not go Back to the Future and call it B&D Technologies. Here is your new logo:


    I could have written one sentence that the name change simply sucked and left it at, but, like Agilent, I had to attempt to explain why. Sorry.

    Long live HP.

    Discuss on the Forum HERE

    CLICK HERE for the story of how Agilent got it’s new name

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      • Stefan

        Great article Dave! I laughed so hard, especially after reading the other names they considered. I really love to see (or read) your rants.

      • Gerhart

        I don’t care. I’m into Tektronix scopes since ages.

      • Robert

        I like the name KeySight Technologies.
        Let’s make KeySight acronym to KS, we get
        KS Technologies.
        Sounds like Kick A** Technologies!
        Now that is one company to be reckon with.

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        I’ll definitely be back.

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      • Larry

        I hope this image doesn’t stick in your head like it did in mine. When I heard it was to be Keysight Technologies, my first thought was of a peeping top peering through a key hole.

        As a long time user of HP it hurt when they renamed themselves to Agilent but, like you, now that it’s Keysight, Agilent doesn’t sound so bad. I sure hope I can get some of those HP badges to stick on any new equipment we get.

        Thanks for the rant. It made me feel better too.

      • Any Mouse

        I like your blog. If they had any brains they’d call the new company Packard Hwelett (PH) but maybe PH is just too caustic for business types.

        I just really wish they would develop a decent GUI for their semiconductor parameter analyzers. It takes 5 screens just to get a simple I/V plot.

      • KSP

        This is the first blog entry I have read on here and wow, holy fuck! You phrase my point of view a lot better than I can…

        I do not like the name but like you said, compared to the list of other possible names it was a wise choice.

        I agree that the foundation HP should still be the T&M division, but since entering into the computer market I guess HP became a household name, marketing items to households, rather than just industry. As much as I hate HP computers, they are a name people buy. The general public do not follow industrial name changes, so no one would have bought an agilent laptop! So from this point of view I understand changing the name of the industrial side. But still, something more along the lines of HPI (Hewlett Packard Instruments) or something similar would have been a much better way to go

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      • ra676869psn

        who cares what is it called? R&S is ages ahead, they won’t ever catch up, losers is what they are.

      • Dave Lindbergh

        I Googled on “HP Agilent Keysight WTF” and came here.

        What a way to ruin a great brand! Over again! For no reason at all.

        (What was wrong with “Packard Hewlett”, or “Pewlett Hackard”, I wonder?)

        The monkeys are running the henhouse. Or, um, something like that.

        • Seth Burgin

          They are saving the HP name to sell their crummy PCs, printers and laptops now. As unimpressed as I am with their computers, & printers, keeping the HP name off of test gear is probably a good idea. The Agilent name was on HP stuff for long enough to give it a lot of credibility. I have no idea what is with the Keysight thing. I went to look for one of the fancy $200,000 multifunction scopes and saw “Keysight”? WTF? Hewlett Packard’s PCs & printers have ruined that name anyway. Assembling PCs from lowest bidder parts? Ohhhhhh, how sad is that?

      • lurker

        when i purchasing during the HP/Agilent transition, i lamented to the salesman about having a difficult time w/ “Agilent” w/ our purchasing department.

        he told me they were very unhappy about the name HP being “stolen” when the T&M people started it. but the other side got bigger & made more $ ….

        LOL we still call it HP network analyzer…

        i think the new logo is nicer too.

      • Seth Burgin

        I saw that! I have, had a Tektronix 371B curve tracer that was made by Sony of all people. HP’s stuff was made by Agilent and now it is called Keysight? Oh well! Check out this old rack mount Weston valve tester. This had to be the coolest vintage valve tester I have seen in a long time! How about that monster? It was up in Denver and, yes, it fits a 19 inch rack. I got some bad financial news and decided not to pay $1300 for it. I doubt I will ever see another quite like it. The modified Tek 371B is still better. I added a 6000 volt supply and a filament supply so it will test valves too now! Actually, I had to sell the 371 and I am using an old 576 I rebuilt & modified. Great for matching transistors & FETs too. When On Semi, & SGS Thompson pulled out of the valley and moved production to Asia it had to go, along with 20 or 30 employees. Motorola moved discrete component production to Mexico in the 1990s, and they no longer make FET ICs here either. We still have Intel and Microchip. Honeywell is all turbine engines now. Digital is just gone. I am not sure what became of Flip Chip. Sumitomo still makes wafers for Intel and PICs.

      • Seth Burgin

        HP just makes mediocre PCs worse lap tops and dogy printers now. I have a lovely vintage HP O Scope that actually gave Tek some good competition, back in 1962. It is basically a boat anchor now. I am using a Tek 2445A analog scope for now. I had to sell off a lot of stuff, when I was run down by a drug crazed nut driving a pickup truck, and injured. On Semi, and ST Micro pulled out and moved production to Asia, so there went more jobs than mine, and I sold off even more stuff. I used to have a Tek 371B curve tracer modified to test valves, just for fun. I found this old monster up in Denver, but got more bad financial news and could not bring myself to pay $1200 for it. I know I could have gone through this modernized the power supplies restored it and sold it for a profit. Too much work for my bad back, broken down knees & shoulders. It is still a neat 19″ rack mount valve tester.

        • Seth Burgin

          That was made by Weston, just in case anyone was wondering. Weston was instrumental in inventing the ballistic type analog meter movement. Add some regulated power supplies, go through, replace some caps, check other parts, clean the switches, calibrate it, and some audiophool would pay $5K or more for it. The seller did not want to ship it. I went up and looked at it. Neat old piece of test gear from a government agency.

      • Dani Grey

        There are some people complaining about the valve quality of this company. While I can’t comment from experience, I can say that these valves are tested with much scrutiny in order to assure quality. Losing a valve, after all, can be a huge problem in an industrial application. No one wants to buy into that kind of fragility.


      • disqus_j7fWTS65I4

        Sometimes it is the small stuff. Sometime in the ’60’s my brother, sister, and myself pooled our cash ($400 at the time, IIRC) and bought my dad an HP calculator — one of those early red segment display jobs. He used that daily until he died. When I had a need for a financial calculator I parted with $35 (yes, that is not a typo … ONLY $35) and got an HP-12C. That thing was bullet proof. You could throw it at a wall, much like Dave did with his Fluke. I got almost a decade on the original batteries … not a lot of use, obviously, but when I needed it I pulled it out of the drawer and it sprung to life. Wonderful engineering. The keys felt so good. I loved the three colors to give each key three functions. What economy. What great human engineering. One thing I loved about it was that it used RPN. I’d love to know what was behind that decision. It sounds crazy. Who the hell wants to learn RPN just to do some simple arithmetic? But once you learn it, it is clearly the BEST way to go. That kind of decision would never be made today. (I loved it when some obnoxious person with no sense of personal boundries would snatch my calculator from me, without asking, then look puzzled when nothing worked. “This damn thing is broken. It is giving all kinds of stupid answers.” 😉

        I doubt I’d buy anything that any descendent of the old HP made today. From what I hear it is all crap. They certainly no longer have the intense commitment to quality that they once had.

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