|On collecting and longevity |
Message #13 Posted by Karl Schneider on 11 Feb 2006, 3:34 p.m.,
in response to message #12 by Valentin Albillo
In response to,
"Put them on display when they no longer work or use them for parts, but is seems odd (IMO) to just put a bunch of calculators in a glass case and just looking at them."
You've never collected valuable stamps, say ? Would you consider odd to just look at them stamps in some album, instead of attaching them to a letter and mail it ? :-) What about valuable coins ? Would you consider best to spend that old silver dollar in some candy ? ;-)
The point is, once you realize that vintage HP calculators are valuable collectables (look at eBay if in doubt) then it's pretty normal to handle them as such, glass-case treatment included.
Ah, but the flaw in that analogy is that stamps and coins are intended to be spent, whereas calculators are intended to be kept and used as tools. If a rare or distinctive stamp or coin is not to be used for its intended purpose, then it makes perfect sense to sheath it in a protective case to allow for viewing enjoyment without further degradation.
A fine calculator that is always handled and stored with care can retain its "mint" appearance, even if directly touched. I bought my HP-10C and HP-16C used on eBay, and both were functionally perfect and cosmetically near-flawless. The owner of the 10C claimed to have used it for his work related to designing a new major airport in the US. My only HP-15C, on the other hand, has not been so fortunate. I bought it new in 1983, lugging it all around campus in a backpack through three degree programs, and (unfortunately) dropping the pack at least twice. Small dents and a deep scratch on the bezel resulted, but no functional problems or damage to the display.
How about rare, classic automobiles? Some people think it is a shame to keep a vintage restored classic car "under wraps", trailered to every show it is entered, or maintained as a static display in a museum, garage, or warehouse. However, a car cannot be driven on the roadways without suffering mechanical wear and cosmetic damage.
Being a confirmed pragmatist, I've never quite understood the appeal of stamp collecting ("philately"), except in terms of the fundamental reason for almost any form of collecting -- to have something that few others do. A stamp collection requires little space and maintenance, but what you see is all there is: "a certificate of postage paid, issued in this year by this country for this amount, in this design." Coins often incorporate more historical and political significance, but their intrinsic value beyond metal content is mainly their desirability to other people. As an objet d'art, only a "proof" coin can fully show the fine detail and sophistication of the coin's design and manufacture.
By contrast, a quality working calculator is not only useful, but can exhibit an entire package of fine period-specific engineering technology (software, mechanical, and electrical), as well as the specific implementation of mathematical algorithms. Some people (including HP Forum readers) value such things; most, alas, do not.
A reasonably cared HP-11 or HP-15C will last decades, till their internals begin to decompose by age alone. Buying many will be no use, because by the time the 2nd one is also failing, all remaining ones will be the same old age, and thus decaying as well...
If this is true (and it probably is), all the more reason to use them while you can! It might even be that occasional use, to energize the circuits, will help slow the process of degradation.
My oldest is a 1971 HP-35, which still works perfectly. My two early (non-soldered) HP-34C's need service; the two fullnut HP-41's
I received were successfully restored to perfect operating condition by cleaning and soldering from www.fixthatcalc.com. All my other HP's are newer and still work great; I hope they will for another several decades...
Edited: 12 Feb 2006, 3:23 a.m.