Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am

Happy 100th birthday to David Packard and other numbers: Other Voices

Friday marked the 100th birthday of David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Co. and longtime Los Altos Hills resident. Packard was born in Pueblo, Colo., Sept. 7, 1912, and died at age 83 March 26, 1996.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1934 and his master’s degree in 1938. With his friend Bill Hewlett (1913-2001), he co-founded HP in 1939.

As a tribute to Packard on his 100th birthday, I examined many of the numbers related to his life and constructed the following numerical brainteasers as a 100th-birthday gift for him that I wanted to share.

• “David Packard” = “Stanford”: If one assigns numbers to the letters of his full name, using the English alphabet (letter A corresponding to 1, B being 2 … and letter Z as 26), the numbers of his name add up to 94. Coincidentally, the sum of the numbers assigned to Stanford equals 97, his birthdate.

• The prime factor of his birth year leads to Stanford: The highest prime factor of Packard’s birth year 1912 is 239 (1912 = 2 cubed x 239), and, interestingly enough, the sum of the squares of the digits of 239 also yields 94. In addition, 239 is the 52nd prime number. If one reverses 52, the 25th prime number is 97, which represents Packard’s birthday, Sept. 7. Note that 25 equals the reverse of 520, which represents Hewlett’s birthdate, May 20.

• Leap year: Packard was born in a leap year (1912) and died in a leap year (1996). In addition to this being his 100th birthday, 9072012 also marks his 25th leap-year birthday.

• Magic “110” connection between Hewlett’s and Packard’s full birthdays: Every year, Hewlett’s and Packard’s birthdays (Hewlett’s on May 20 and Packard’s on Sept. 7) are 110 days apart. During these 110 days, they are the same age. So, the number 110 is unique in this sense. However, there is more to it than that. Take number 110 and add it to Hewlett’s birth year, which results in 2023 (the year Hewlett would celebrate his 110th birthday). Next, multiply 2023 by 1913, yielding 3869999. Now, you may wonder what this number stands for. Add this number to Hewlett’s full birthday, 5201913, that is, 3869999 + 5201913 = 9071912 (Packard’s full birthday). Amazing!

Aziz S. Inan is professor of electrical engineering at the University of Portland in Oregon. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Stanford University.

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