In Pictures: Astronauts And Dragons Hit HP Discover

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Dragons and astronauts liven up the big event of the tech company that Dares to be Dull

 HP may be fighting to slim down and re-invent itself, but at its Discover event in Las Vegas, it showed plenty of invention, along with a brave return to its trademark style : once again HP is dependable and well-engineered. It’s the tech firm that Dares to be Dull.

In HP’s 75th year, CEO Meg Whitman is playing things very straight. HP is an engineering company, she wants us to know. It’s committed to its partners, and will help them “Deliver The New Style of IT”, and Deliver That New Style Of IT… Together”.

Meg Whitman HP calculator watch 1977 HP Discover 2014 image by Peter JudgeOur machine is called… The Machine

The slogans get over-used, but with a certain hesitance. This is a company, we are to understand, that only does marketing when it has to, doesn’t do it very well and, if it’s OK with you, would rather get on with building things. And Discover heard a fair bit about the things HP has invented since the founders set up shop in a Silicon Valley garage in 1939 – including a calculator watch which Whitman says is “the first wearable”.

It’s been said that HP, if it sold sushi would sell it as “raw fish”. So when it decides to design a futuristic photon-linked, memristor-packing mesh computing machine (due in about 2020), it calls it… The Machine. CTO Martin told us this is because HP Labs doesn’t have a marketing budget.

Three CEOs – Whitman along with Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Intel’s Brian Krzanich – agreed with each other in a keynote dubbed “the Yalta of Tech” by compere Thomas Friedman.

Some firms would get a movie star for their keynotes, but HP thinks printers have star quality and plonked a giant one next to Meg Whitman.  It’s called Niagara because it gushes pages at a colossal rate. And for keynote duties, it’s better than a movie star because it doesn’t fluff its teleprompter lines.

There were movie stars at the show of course – Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2 was created on HP systems, and the stars were there in cut-out form.

And astronaut Story Musgrave showed up to unveil HP’s Apollo launch, praising it for what HP would say are its core values: sold sensible tech that won’t go wrong.

Pictures of all this below…

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HP Discover 2014

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HP Discover 2014
Martin Fink, HP's CTO, makes the big announcement: a plan to build "The Machine", based on photonic networks, specialised processors and memristors.