More financial fall-out

It could be my imagination, but it seems there are many more HP financial calculators (e.g., 12C models) on Ebay now than there were a year ago….

[I’ve been carrying my 48G to meetings recently, because there is often a need to do quick calculations, and the calculator applications on computers are universally clumsy; slow to find, slow to launch, and as a rule they have (shudder) equals keys.]

 

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15 Responses to More financial fall-out

  1. Jeff Curless says:

    I prefer the HP 16c, their only programmer’s calculator.

  2. landon says:

    I have a couple of 16C models. They’re fantastic. There’s an iPhone app that emulates a 16C; I haven’t tried it, but I’m quite tempted.

    A 16C will set you back upwards of $300 on Ebay, last I checked.

    Go into stores these days, even University bookstores, and TI is there, but only one or two HP models, and they don’t look all that great. (I heard somewhere that they’re binary-patching features in these days, no longer building them from source code — a sure sign of product obsolescence).

    Remember when there were *stores* specializing in calculators?  (My first computer was a kit — a Digital Group system — from Poor Richard’s Calculators in Fort Collins, in 1977 or so).

     

  3. Steve McKay says:

    I find myself using Excel whenever I can, which works out well for me; I need to debug my data entry more often than I’d care to admit.

  4. Eric says:

    Every once in a while I look around on ebay to find out what it’d cost me to replace my 42S if it broke, and then I get depressed.

  5. Dan says:

    Eric – same here – my 42S is so old, but it works perfectly & it’s never gonna leave my possession…..

    That son of a bitch and I conquered one of the toughest EE curriculums in the U.S., it’s not getting kicked to the curb anytime soon.

  6. landon says:

    My first HP was a 25C. Wonderful calculator. Used it in high school, not so much for any math, chem or physics course, but for hacking away at its essentially assembly-language-level programmability. I had a NIM scorer that simply *would not* fit into 49 steps. 51 yes, 49 no. Hacking in class is one of the reasons I can’t remember anything about Thomas Hardy.

    The 16C I bought just about the time I was finishing Donkey Kong. It served me well through the fairly low-level stuff I did in the 80s.  It also works great for modern 64-bit architectures.  128 bits and I’m hosed, though.

    The 41C I got for free, from a cow-orker who sent out mail one afternoon saying that he was giving it away. I arrived at his cube probably about the time he finished lifting his mouse finger off the button from pressing ‘Send’. Fantastic little machine. You could take advantage of some overflow stuff and ‘escape’ into the machine code; someone wrote an entire book on synthetic 41C programming.  What I’ve found is that HP calculators really bring out the hackers in people.

    I have a couple of 48s (SX and G). They’re fine. They do hex (though not very well). Their graphing functions are pretty useless as far as I’m concerned. The UI is slow.  The colors they chose for the shift keys bother me (tough for my color-blind eyes to deal with).

    My dad has a 28S, a 35 a couple 45s, a 41, and a 67. Not sure if the 67’s card reader works (the drive wheel turns to goo after 25 years or so, but can be replaced). Both 45s have the “timer” easter egg, which is way cool, and a righteous hack for a machine that small.

    I wouldn’t mind having an honest-to-goodness yellow 12″ Pickett aluminum log-log slide rule with a real glass reticule and a decent case. I was one of two kids in our junior. high school who knew how to use one. I was going to take the course on slide rules in high school, but in the Fall of 1977 they canceled it forever…

  7. Anon says:

    Wow all this talk of calculators just sounds like another world to me. Presumably I have a Casio graphing calculator somewhere but I never really thought to hack on it (I had friends who wrote text based Formula 1 racing games on theirs though).

  8. Miguel Farah says:

    I have a HP25C stored away that used to be my uncle’s. I’d love to be able to use it, but its battery died and replacements are impossible.

    I used to have a HP28S (from the time I was in college), until it was stolen by one of my brothers “friends”. He had to indemnify me by giving me his HP48S. That one doesn’t work anymore (it does turn on, but half the buttons don’t work) – I bet that if I could solve the 25C’s battery problem, it would still work as advertised.

  9. landon says:

    @Miguel: IIRC, the HP-25C used vanilla ni-cad battery packs. You should be able to pick these up anywhere (even at a RatShack) — you’ll have to crack open the old battery case, but it should work. There are some sites that show how to do this.

  10. My substitute these days is http://canonical.org/~kragen/sw/js-calc.html, which does automatic graphing and APL-like SIMD, as well as keeping the data you typed in so that you can see if you made data-entry errors.

  11. Atanas Boev says:

    I have TI-92 plus, and its bigger and imho better than HP. TI-basic is also nicer (infinite variable lookup). It can calculate 2^666 and give all the digits.

  12. Simon Tewbi says:

    Not an HP but I still use my old Casio fx-4000P from university, 20 years ago. Slimline, only 7 mm thick or so, and programmable. Haven’t found a calculator to replace it. For some reason no-one seems to make slimline calculators any more. They’re all big and chunky, longer and thicker than the old Casio. And they don’t seem to be programmable any more either, unless I get a fancy graphing calculator. I don’t really need a notebook computer or a PDA that costs hundreds of dollars. I also want something that will be up and running in a split second after I turn it on, and that will have all the symbols I need right in front of me. So the old Casio soldiers on.

  13. Kaishaku says:

    I had a chemistry professor who used an old postfix HP. Students would forget to bring a calculator to lab and ask to borrow his, and he’d say, “Well, yes, but you won’t like it.” A minute or two later they’d return it. 🙂

  14. landon says:

    @Kaishaku: Right. Students would ask to borrow my calculator, and I’d grin and hand it to them. They’d hit a few digits, then ‘+’ or something, and I’d count to myself 1, 2, 3 : “Where’s the equals key?”

    In a couple years of this, one person took the time to sort of learn what it was about. Everyone else just handed the thing back.

  15. Dan Hirsch says:

    My preferred calculator is my HP 50g that I’ve had for about 2.5 years now, and I love handing it to people when they ask to borrow it…. especially because of the custom font with all upside down characters. (and my parents said that the TI-89 was more practical!).

    On a different note, I wonder how much of the original reason for RPN was efficiency and how much was “I really don’t feel like coding a shunting-yard algorithm on this godforsaken processor”

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