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HP Forum Archive 06

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Arithmetic Keys - ergonomics
Message #1 Posted by Miguel(Denver) on 23 July 2001, 1:37 p.m.

My $0.02: What bugs me about the reconfiguration of the basic keys is the change in order.The 1xC machines have them in /,*,-,+ from top to bottom while the 41 has them -,+,*,/ this is forever catching me...simply moving them around as a group would be ok but re-ordering them ??? About the layout of 1xC machines... While the 1xC (landscape) machines work quite well sitting on a desk top, most of the people who use them seem to hold them in both hands and keystroke with both thumbs. This is especially usefull when working on a chalk or white board or doing rapid compute and write things like thermodynamics finals. Since you don't put the machine down you can almost learn to 'touch' compute. I have seen the guys & girls at NASA doing this on the Pathfinder project (on TV), and on documentaries about the Arecibo radio telescope. I have had two professors who would run a computation, drop the machine in a front shirt pocket, write or comment on something, and pull it back out to continue almost without a thought. Picture computing with a video game controller. Also, since the machine lives in your left hand or on the left corner of the desk it takes up none of the usefull mouse/pencil/coffee/notepad space that a desk top machine must use to fall at hand. I recently rediscovered my 41cx and while it is absolutely a more powerfull machine I invariably grab my 11c for basic run of the mill computation. I wish hp would build the landscapes again,picture a 32s in landscape with a bi-directional i.r. port...oh well dream on I guess.

Re: Arithmetic Keys - ergonomics
Message #2 Posted by Dave Shaffer on 24 July 2001, 1:18 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Miguel(Denver)

I'm one of those guys you might have seen at Arecibo (I'm a professional radio astronomer)(although they've never been filming on the 2 or 3 occasions I've been there.) I have used my 11C in the "thumbs" mode, but not often. When using a calculator in the hand, I think I prefer the 41 (portrait) style.

By the way, when I was a grad student at Caltech, we astronomy students hosted Barney Oliver (a VP at HP, and a big SETI fan) for lunch. This was 1972 or 1973, when the HP35 was brand new and the object of lust for all science students (I ultimately spent more than an entire month's grad student "salary" for one when they were first reduced to (only!) $295.) This, of course, was the big topic of discussion with Oliver. He told us that the HP engineers had set up a mock keyboard (attached to a real computer so that functions could really be evaluated) with assignable keys, for their buddies to play with while the '35 was in development. The idea was to find out which functions everybody needed/wanted the most. I guess the most votes determined which functions where then actually programmed into the final version. I suppose these same guys also then determined where the + - x / keys went!

We also asked Oliver if he knew how much it actually cost HP to build one of the '35s, and whether he would tell us. His answers: yes / no . My recollection is that the following year (1973 or 1974), one could calculate (with just a four-banger) that something approaching 10% of HP's TOTAL REVENUE must have come from sale of that one product. This is based on the $295/$395 selling price, the number sold, and HP's total gross.

One final thought: I wonder if the 11C/41Cx (and derivatives?) could be revived, sort of as you hinted. The 11C and the 12C use the same case. The 12C is still made (in China!). Seems to me that just a different CPU and some relabelled keys would produce 11Cs - which are selling for phenomonal prices on E-bay. Anybody want to buy the rights from HP, call the factory in China, and go back in business? Seems to me we could make 11Cs for well under $100. As noted, for portability and functionality, an 11C (maybe a 15C) is hard to beat (and us RPN diehards wouldn't die of frustration when handed a TI8x or Casio!)

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