|Why Not Emulate a New Calculator Design? (Long Again...)|
Message #1 Posted by Steve on 22 Mar 2004, 7:45 p.m.
...To continue from my previous posting, I'd like to suggest an idea. Several people have posted here about how neat it would be to create "an HP-41 (or 48GX or 49G+...) for the new millenium," so to speak; Ben Salinas being the most recent example.
I'd like this as much as anyone, but as I have already said, I see these discussion threads as sad pipedreams, at best. The simple fact is that there seems to be no subset of this group sufficiently motivated to undertake such a task AS AN ACTUAL HARDWARE EXERCISE. For those who can remember, the creation of the PPC ROM so many years ago turned out to be a Herculion-seeming task, which involved a significant portion of the PPC Users Group for MONTHS. And they really only did software, relying on an in-place Hewlett Packard program which handled the actual creation of the hardware modules. (Some will also point out, rightly, that like many such projects, when push came to shove, only a small handful of diehards did the key day-to-day coordination and finally tied up all the loose ends. However, at the outset, a large group of PPC'ers was involved...)
Today's product R&D revolves around suites of virtual design tools which create and allow evaluation and vetting of concepts without ever creating actual hardware. Effects-based simulation, systems engineering and cost analyses can all be applied without ever touching a real double-shot-molded key.
If this is the way "adult" industry operates, why not do the same thing? If no one here is willing to tackle real hardware, why not do the next best thing and create a simulation or emulation of a new calculator design which everyone can get involved in by either contributing concepts, software snippets / aplets or simply doing beta testing? With virtual hardware, no one has to be stuck buying anything or worrying about reconfiguring ASIC's...
One seeming advantage of this approach is that the sim can be built one step at a time (e.g., Work out a tentative packaging and display, then implement arithmatic functions on one data type first, then transcentental functions, then more data types, then RPL progamming, then...). Think of it as a GUI where only some of the keys work at first, then more and more. If the imagined physical form becomes unwieldy or obsolete, it can be revised in an instant. New features or approaches can be added (but with increasing difficulty as the design builds up). If a core group of responsible individuals is ambitious enough, the current version can even be "demo'ed" to outsiders (like HP or their Asian OEM) who might be interested enough to transition it to a real product... ***NOTE: Who would profit from this would DEFINITELY be a problem. Maybe Dave Hicks would have to be trusted to work this out.
Finally, if we all run out of steam, the sim could be left here at MoHPC until another group (or a set of diehards) decided to finish it up. Again, the fact that there is no real hardware would liberate the creation process.
So there it is. I don't imagine that this is a perfect idea, but I think it's a workable way to harness all the pent-up creativity that we (apparently) have here.
UNLESS, of course, someone else has a BETTER idea...???