|Re: Bring back ....|
Message #37 Posted by Garth Wilson on 4 Sept 2005, 2:17 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Namir
I'm going to raise some dust here. Nothing personal of course.
Why stop there? How about bring back the 41CX?
but apparently nowadays most people do no longer need computing power like a HP41 as a handheld - PCs with more speed and functionality are ubiquituous.
Even though I have two PCs on my desk (actually one is on the floor, but the two share the same monitor and keyboard), I still use my 41cx every day. Why? Because it's far better for certain jobs, regardless of the comparison of computing power.
I've never seen a BASIC as good as what's in my HP-71, which is due partly to all the LEX-file contributions from the user groups. After having used that a lot, we got a desktop PC to control automated test equipment in about 1989, and used HP's Rocky Mountain BASIC which turned out to be a huge disappointment. It was nowhere near as good as the 71. And as for the C64 and Apple II, as great as they were, their BASICs scored a zero compared to the hand-held HP-71's BASIC.
See the decrease of the BASIC-style Casio sliderules - does anyone, except collectors, still feel the need to have one and to program it - seriously? Their time was over when people could get C64 and Apple with faster or better BASIC built in.
I totally disagree. The two have different functions. Some "visionaries" and marketing departments are always pushing to make one gadget do the functions of several. Some of the things they think of are about as apetizing as combining the toilet and the food processor.
The advent of the PC (generically speaking) seriously challenged the old HP calculators.
We had tons of high-dollar HP RF test equipment where I was working in the mid-1980's (not the same job mentioned above), but much of it was used in engineering, not production. One day the HP rep brought in a HP3421A data acquisition unit with the optional relay card to be tried on a production setup. One of the engineers who had his own HP41cv took 20 minutes to write a program to control the production test. As I recall, it worked right the first time. It took a lot longer to set up the instruments that had to be connected to the 3421 than to write the program. Several engineers were called for a demo, including managers. Everyone was impressed. A requisition was filled out that included a 41cv with HPIL. Unfortunately, that part of the req was denied, with the explanation that the 41 would be much too easy to steal. So they opted for an IBM PC at several times the price and workbench space and no portability. The IEEE-488 card and software was included of course. It took weeks to get anything working with it, compared to the 20 minutes it took on the 41cv. I realize of course that PC software has come a long way since then in user-friendliness, but I think it still would not be able to compete in a productivity contest of this kind.
The PC will always need a big screen; and generally, the higher the resolution, the better. The hand-held, on the other hand, needs to be hand-held. In my case it has nothing to do with putting it in my pocket (which I would never do because that's a recipe to quickly ruin it by sitting on it, letting it fall out, etc.). I need to be able to take it with me from the desk to the workbench for example, or to another room, while in the middle of calculations or entering data to process. Even a laptop is much to big for this.
If you've ever done any programming you should know that sometimes the value of N will be unknown until immediately before entering the loop, or it may not be the same every time you run the program, depending on conditions.
With a PC, you basically wouldn't need FOR loops any more - you could afford copying&pasting the loop body N times
...and how long will that take to load up, compared to the calculator that's instant-on?
just throw your poor hack onto the PC using 1GB memory and 10GB disk space
That's irrelevant. The high-end HP calculator market was always kind of a niche market, and would still be today if these little machines were put back into production. Even in their heyday, the ones that were even in a store with a storefront were locked up in glass display cases. I bought most (maybe all) of my hand-held HP equipment through mail order.
And then there's the 'marketing slot' issue. Even if an HP15C could be produced FOR FREE, it'd still cost at least $25ish to get on the shelf and that would be profoundly difficult since it would be an 'oddball' (RPN, etc.)
As more than one person said however, there does seem to be a strong correlation to a loss in the kind of reasoning it takes to be a good programmer or engineer. The electronics industry magazines have a constant debate over the declining engineering-school enrollment and graduations in the U.S., and whether or not there really is a shortage of engineers, or will be soon. The 'shortage' part of the debate does not look like it will have any clear conclusions anytime soon.
Edited: 4 Sept 2005, 2:22 a.m.