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In 1938, Willian Hewlett and David Packard developed an audio oscillator which generated sounds of various frequencies and could thus be used to test sound quality. Among its first customers was Walt Disney productions, which ordered eight such devices for use during the production of its animated feature film Fantasia.

While delighted with the order, Hewlett and Packard had no idea what to charge for the oscillators. Upon which price did they finally settle? $54.40.

[The numbers derive from the latitude (54'40"N) to which America demanded control in its dispute with Great Britain over the Oregon territory. "Fifty-four forty or fight" was adopted as a campaign slogan by James Polk during the presidential election of 1844.]

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