I had an HP calculator, a 25C, in the 70s. I programmed the living crap out of that thing; 49 program steps, 9 or 10 memory locations, and a four level stack, and wrote programs that used every single bit of that memory.
My dad had a series of HP calculators, notably an HP-65 with a card reader. I kept bugging him to bring it home so I could hack on it all evening, at our kitchen table.
Our high school had a great HP computer and plotter (I didn’t get to use it much, but it was cool).
Once upon a time I lived near the HP plant in Loveland. I was in 10th or 11th grade. I remember riding my bicycle five miles to the plant, announcing myself as a computer hacker and could I have a job? The receptionist was less than impressed. I did get to talk to one of their engineers, and he was bemused and maybe a little impressed, but they couldn’t hire a high schooler even if he had built a computer over the winter. Later I went to an open house and spent hours mucking with the test equipment they had set up and asking questions about their chip processing plant.
I used an HP 6502 emulator at Atari to help debug video games. I used HP analyzers at Apple to find out WTF was going on inside the Newton, when I couldn’t use a debugger. I used HP analyzers to grok some gnarly 68000 timings.
I know how to program a 41C in its native machine code. I’ve read the specs on the CPUs in the calculators. I learned what CORDIC was because that’s what made the original HP 35 tick.
I have an HP 41C, two HP 48s, a 32S, two 16Cs, and probably one or two more that are hiding in boxes. (I wish I still had the 25C, and I covet my dad’s 65). I have an HP x86 laptop in the garage (my dad gave it to me a few years ago. It runs DOS and weighs about ten pounds and almost certainly still works though it’s 20 years old).
It was nice to know HP, when it was a company that mattered.
HP as a company is dead to me; they have no products that I am interested in. Any magic that was there fled years ago, and the recent mismanagement is just the natural process that a nearly dead company goes through on the way to termination. I feel sorry for the people who are working there. I wish that HP made something cool, but they don’t any more, and that will be the end of them.