Re: I've never even heard of most of those memory thingies
You hit the nail right on the head. Carly "perception is reality" Fiorina eviscerated the Labs, and replaced them with an addendum to the HP Corporate logo that said "Invent". Having reduced Bill and Dave (Hewlett-Packard) to HP, she further insulted the true inventors and bearers of the "Bill and Dave legacy [in the original, positive sense]" by adding "Invent" to the logo and the site signage. As if they didn't know. Only a marketing twerp like her wouldn't know.
HP's internal magazine, "Measure" had an article about Carly, showing a picture of her leading Lew around some of the sites like a whipped dog. It was heartbreaking, especially considering he was originally from the med side of things. Carly, heartless indeed.
So the evisceration of the labs began LONG before Nit Witless &co.; it began with Carly. The breaking up of the company actually began on John Young's watch, though he was held back by Dave, and Bill.
After Bill left the day-to-day operations, and Dave passed away (1996), all bets were pretty much off. 2001, when Bill passed away, was the end of the Real HP.
HP Labs could never do the level of basic research that IBM did, simply because the company wasn't big enough to fund that level of research. Having said that, the labs did do an enormous amount of valuable research and product initiation, if not full development. Consider the ubiquitous touchscreen.
The HP150 (and 2382 terminal) were the first real commercial examples of this technology, though they were a solution in search of a market. Disc caching (first seen in the PC world with WD discs)? "Two guys in a corner" with the HP7933XP. Pocket calculator? Bill Hewlett himself threw down a challenge that resulted in the HP pocket calculator. The list goes on and on.
Sadly, the labs don't.
HP has become "Hewlett Packaging", buying white-box hardware from often non-descript Chinese hardware vendors, with a smattering of Indian-developed software riding on that hardware. The labs, be they computer, medical, analytic (chromographs, HPLC, etc.), test & measurement, semiconductor design and assembly, etc., are all but gone now.
So, Meggie &co. Now that you've squeezed the last dime out of what was once a great company, what are you going to do?????