The company was formed by Rod Canion, Jim Harris and Bill Murto — former Texas Instruments senior managers. Murto departed Compaq in 1987, while Canion (President and CEO) and Harris (SVP of Engineering) left under a shakeup in 1991, which saw Eckhard Pfeiffer appointed President and CEO. Pfeiffer served through the 1990s. Ben Rosen provided the venture capital financing for the fledgling company and served as chairman of the board for 18 years from 1983 until September 28, 2000, when he retired and was succeeded by Michael Capellas, who served as the last Chairman and CEO until its merger with HP.
Prior to its takeover the company was headquartered in a facility in northwest unincorporated Harris County, Texas, United States that now serves as HP's United States headquarters.
In 2002, Compaq signed a merger agreement with Hewlett-Packard for $24.2 billion, including $14.45 billion for goodwill, where each Compaq share would be exchanged for 0.6325 of a Hewlett-Packard share. There would be a termination fee of $675 million USD that either company would have to pay the other to break the merger. Compaq shareholders would own 36% of the combined company while HP's would have 64%.Hewlett-Packard had reported yearly revenues of $47 billion, while Compaq's was $40 billion, and the combined company would have been close to IBM's $90 billion revenues. It was projected to have $2.5 billion in annual cost savings by mid-2004. The expected layoffs at Compaq and HP, 8500 and 9000 jobs, respectively, would leave the combined company with a workforce of 145,000.
Compaq World Headquarters (now HP United States') campus consisted of 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land which contained 15 office buildings, 7 manufacturing buildings, a product conference center, an employee cafeteria, mechanical laboratories, warehouses, and chemical handling facilities.