The Story of the Little Computer That Could!


Now vanished into the mists of time and computer evolution, the Hewlett-Packard 9825 desktop computer was way before its time. In many ways, the development of the HP 9825 and its brethren marked a significant turning point for the computer industry. It foreshadowed the PC revolution fully five years (that’s 50 years in computer time) before the IBM PC burst into existence in 1981.

  • The HP 9825 had a 16-bit, HP-designed, HP-fabricated microprocessor when the “real” semiconductor industry was producing 8-bit toy microprocessors and years before the major microprocessor vendors could produce anything similar.
  • At a time when microcomputers stored data as audible tones on analog audio cassettes, the HP 9825 stored programs and data on a revolutionary digital miniature tape cartridge that launched the entire microcomputer tape-backup industry.
  • The HP 9825 booted directly from ROM into an operating system that was ready to go in two seconds while minicomputers and the crude microcomputers of the day required that boot loaders be toggled by hand so that the machines could then load paper tapes containing their programs.
  • Perhaps, most important of all, the HP 9825 set a new standard for the control of a wide range of peripherals and instruments that would not be matched for many years.





This site is an unabashed tribute to the people behind the HP 9825 project. It celebrates their ideas, their vision, and their achievements. So much computing history has been lost from this period. This site seeks to recapture those events, record them on 21st-century papyrus (the World Wide Web), and make them public once again.

The code name for the HP 9825 was the “Keeper”  so this is the story of the Keeper and its brothers.

The HP 9825 story contains many, many firsts for the computer industry. But to understand why these firsts originated with the HP 9825, we must look back beyond the HP 9825’s year of introduction: 1976.

In that computer prehistory are many seemingly unrelated events that fuse to create the driving force behind the creation of the HP 9825 desktop computer and its many relations.

Along the way are a few surprisingly famous characters and events. Read on to meet them





What’s new on the site?

Added new story to the end of the “QIC and the Dead” page - 3/15/14

Prehistoric Times

The HP 9825 Projects



There are a number of wonderful sites devoted to HP history on the Web. The people who created these sites have worked hard for little or no reward other than the appreciation of their visitors and they have all been a tremedous help to me in my efforts. Take a look at these sites and let them know you appreciate their work:

HP Memory - A comprehensive site of HP products and documents going back to the dawn of time. Beautifully built by the elegant and knowledgeable Marc Mislanghe, who passed away in 2014.

The HP Computer Museum - Located in Melbourne, Australia. Founded by Jon Johnston who passed away in 2016.

Museum of HP Calculators - A haven for calculator collectors, especially for handheld calculator enthusiasts. Built by David G. Hicks.

The Old Calculator Museum - Not specifically an HP-only site, but a real treasure trove of calculator-related lore. Built by Rick Bensene.

Electronic Calculator History and Technology Museum - Alex Knight’s comprehensive calculator site.

The HP 9845 Project - Well done site on the HP 9825’s big brother. Created in 2008 by Ansgar Kuckes, Berlin.

HP9825.COM is in no way associated with the Hewlett-Packard Company.

Hewlett-Packard, HP, the HP logos, the HP 9825, and all other product model numbers starting
with HP are all trademarks of the Hewlett-Packard Company and don’t let nobody tell you different!

This site exists strictly for educational purposes. Nothing is for sale here. Substantial material from various issues
of the incomparable Hewlett-Packard Journal appears on this site, by permission of the Hewlett-Packard Company.

All text Copyright 2004 to 2017 - Steve Leibson

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