Agilent marks 40 years in Santa Rosa

SANTA ROSA -- Hewlett-Packard’s first product was a signal generator that used a light bulb to stabilize acoustical waves. And among its first customers was Walt Disney, whose engineers used it to design and test the sound system for the film Fantasia.See also

What HP saw in Santa Rosa 40 years ago

You could say that was the light bulb that lit up Silicon Valley, home to the world’s greatest concentration of technical innovation.

The bulb is gone, but after 40 years in Santa Rosa, the light is still shining at Agilent Technology’s locally based Electronic Measurement Group, where the descendant of the first signal generator has just been launched. It’s about a million times stronger than the original.

[caption id="attachment_67197" align="alignleft" width="347"] Development team for the Agilent PXI Vector Signal Generator included Doug Olney, systems engineer; Mark Hermsen, product manager; and Mark Buffo, R&D section manager[/caption]

Mark Pierpoint, vice president of Agilent’s Software and Modular Solutions Division, said the new signal generator is the world’s fastest, operating at up to 6 gigahertz.

“It’s smaller, much more powerful and can perform 10 to 20 times more tests at a lower cost-per-test,” he said.

Agilent’s signal generators have been primarily used to test military radios and cellular base stations, but Mr. Pierpoint hopes the new product’s speed, versatility and close to zero footprint -- it fits under a production line handler -- will bring Agilent a larger share of the commercial cell phone testing market.

“We have about 40 percent now. ... This new product could shift the balance,” he said.

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