|Re: RPN and the future?|
Message #12 Posted by Darwin Engwer on 21 Aug 2001, 1:22 a.m.,
in response to message #8 by Paul Brogger
Agreed. HP made a name for themselves in calculators by building a quality product, in *all* respects: package, keyboard, display and computational mode (i.e. RPN).
As for algebraic vs RPN I think that algebraic is better for expressing formulas, but RPN is better for computing results. The reason is that RPN parallels how one would compute the result by hand. While other people (the uninitiated) are wary and unwilling to learn RPN bcus of the "extra" effort involved, those who have done so recognize that doing so allows you to compute solutions in the *same* you always have, i.e. on paper, without a calculator. Computing in algebraic is a pain and if you do it carefully and step-by-step then you are effectively using RPN anyway. QED.
I am left to wonder if another factor [eting into the calculator business] in the last few years has been the introduction (and widespead use?) of combination algebraic tools that do both expression *and* computation very well, e.g. MathCAD and Mathematica.
20-30 years ago much engineering was done on calculators. Later Visicalc, Supercalc, Lotus 123 and Excel provided yet another tool - the spreadsheet. Today much of the serious math work of engineering is done either in Excel or MathCAD.
So, in part I suspect that HP (and others) are having trouble selling standalone hardware that does simple math. (Although there's a lot to be said for having a calculator in your back pocket.)
However, assuming that HP still has the expertise, I am confident that HP could build _software_ calculators that would surpass all others. And there's a good question: Why can't you buy a true-blue HP calculator for Windows, Palm, Pocket PC, ... ? Why should we be dependent on buying such software from third party firms and shareware vendors? (BTW, no degradation is intended, it's just that if I was faced with the choice I'd rather buy the HP version, wouldn't you?)