(Following is an except from a Dec. 19 story on the 40th anniversary of Agilent in Santa Rosa in the company's newsletter, Infospark.)

In early 1970, three leaders from Hewlett-Packard’s fast-growing Microwave Division in Palo Alto climbed into a car and started driving north to visit communities where the company might open a new facility. Ninety miles later, they found themselves in Santa Rosa, then a city of 50,000, in the heart of picturesque Sonoma County.

The rest, as they say, is history -- the history of HP and Agilent in Santa Rosa.

After considering a number of possible locations in California and other parts of the United States, the company purchased 200 acres of land in the northern part of Santa Rosa. A “startup” crew arrived in the spring of 1972 to conduct interviews with Sonoma County job seekers and a number were hired. They joined transferring Microwave Division employees in a temporary location while a new facility was being built.     

Fast-forward to 2012. The company -- now Agilent Technologies, following the split from HP in 1999 -- is still in Santa Rosa after four decades and many milestones. Among the highlights: introduction of iconic test and measurement instruments such as the 8510 and 8753 network analyzers and the E4440 spectrum analyzer, all members of the elite “billion dollar club” for lifetime revenue.

Since starting with two permanent buildings, workspace on the campus has more than doubled to approximately 1 million square feet in four buildings and ancillary facilities, while Santa Rosa has more than tripled with a population of 169,000.

“Our Santa Rosa organizations continue to play an important role in the world’s premier measurement company and enjoy a reputation as a great place to work and build rewarding careers,” said Electronic Measurement Group President Guy Sene, who is also the general manager of the Santa Rosa site.

With 1,200 employees, the Santa Rosa site serves as headquarters for the group as well as the Component Test, Microwave and Communications, Signal Networks and Software and Modular Solutions divisions.