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Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #1 Posted by Maximilian Hohmann on 23 Mar 2007, 10:35 a.m.

Hello!

With all the "best calculator ever" threads abunding, I thought it was time for the contrary (didn't find any such thread through the search function).

Why this question? Because yesterday, I received an HP-10BII. Not that I care much about financial calculators or calculators with LCDs, but like everybody else here, I still dream my dream of one day owning a specimen of each hp calculator model. Yes, I know, there is nothing more dis-illusioning than a dream come true, but one keeps trying anyway :-)

So here it is, the worst, by far! calculator I have ever come across: The HP-10BII. Never have I seen such a cheap, flimsy piece of equipment, such a large step back from its predecessor (HP-10B, a solid and well made calculator). Everything about it looks cheap (even the "metal", or wahatever it is, trim around the display and the two top rows of keys), sounds cheap, feels cheap. Several segments of the display are not working anymore (the reason why I got it for one Euro - and this still is one Euro too much) and according to the previous owner he has used it only two ore three times before the display failed, out of warranty of course.

I have also some of the other Chinese made hp calculators (6S, 9S, 9G, 30S, 33S) and they all are about worth what you have to pay for them - but the 10BII is in a class of its own. If I was an hp official, I would try to buy them all back from the market, bulldoze them into pieces and use the plastic to make 12Cs out of it.

Sorry, I had to say this and now I feel better :-))

(And a lot more better, because this morning I got an Elektronika MK61 (Soviet RPN programmable) that looks and feels a litte cheap too and has a little display problem as well, but it is nearly 20 years old and very special in many ways.)

Greetings, Max

Edited: 23 Mar 2007, 10:38 a.m.

      
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #2 Posted by Ron Ross on 23 Mar 2007, 10:59 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

I second your vote for the Hp10Bii!

From my experience with the Hp10Bii which is exactly the same as yours except THAT I did buy mine brand new. The keyboard was CRAP right out of the plastic anti-theft blister pack case (Only the dumbest thief would steal this $hi7!). The top row right keys had no tactle feedback (mushy) right out of box.

However it sat in my collection for about a year, when I pulled it out to play with (I do that occasionly even with the financials). And guess what, the display had failed, just sitting in my collection. The warrenty had expired and Hp was unsympathtic about replacement. I have not bought another Hp financial since (nor do I feel bad for not doing so, as I don't feel the need to collect financials).

            
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #3 Posted by Olivier TREGER on 23 Mar 2007, 11:36 a.m.,
in response to message #2 by Ron Ross

Quote:
... Hp was unsympathtic about replacement. ...
You bet...
            
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #4 Posted by Don on 24 Mar 2007, 1:12 a.m.,
in response to message #2 by Ron Ross

I will have to agree that the 10Bii is without a doubt the worst piece of junk in the entire solar system. I was so glad when mine died a mysterious death. What were they thinking (drinking?)?

Don

      
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #5 Posted by Ron on 23 Mar 2007, 11:35 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

I'm not actually answering the question posed, but thought this would be a good thread to mention the dumbest ideas I've seen in HP calcs. Top two are:

1. 6S solar, with battery backup, and no OFF key! This is such a bad design, it's funny. Any time it's dark, the battery is running down. At night, the battery keeps the calc on. Put it in the case, the battery keeps the calc on. This calc must have been designed by the Energizer Bunny. 2. Clamshell side battery doors. If it's not broken, it will be soon! It reminds me of the saying that "armadillos are born by the road, dead."

            
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #6 Posted by Katie Wasserman on 23 Mar 2007, 11:53 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Ron

I vote for the 6S non-solar. It does has an 'off' key but the color scheme makes the functions almost unreadable.

I sort of like the 6s solar, it's cheap ($2 each in the large quantity I bought for geocaching prizes) and although the battery does drain in low-light conditions it last for years.

                  
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #7 Posted by Massimo Gnerucci (Italy) on 23 Mar 2007, 12:54 p.m.,
in response to message #6 by Katie Wasserman

I completely agree with Katie for the very same reasons.

I pulled off the batteries from the 6Sss (how many "s"!) I own and (very rarely) use them as pure solar calcs.

      
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #8 Posted by Dave Shaffer on 23 Mar 2007, 11:40 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

Since you put (hp), I think one is allowed to comment about other calcs, too.

My vote goes for the 99 cent store special! There was thread here a few years ago which pointed out its existence. Since at that point I was accumulating cheap calculators ($5-10 Casios, Canons, and TIs) which I could lend out in physics and astronomy labs (with little fear of loss if they disappeared), I figured I should get one of the 99 specials.

It was there in the store, alright. By the time I got it home, though, one of the screws holding the case together had fallen out, and the keyboard was truly crap. It did seem to perform its functions correctly, however.

It gets my vote for worst calculator.

      
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #9 Posted by Paul Brogger on 23 Mar 2007, 11:58 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

For me, the 6s -- easily the worst H-P I've ever touched. (The 10Bii is a close second, though.)

Its AMAZING capacity for key bounce was instantaneously exasperating, and ultimately fatal (to the calculator).

I've said before, one of my most satisfying H-P moments was frisbee-ing that 6s into the dumpster, and not even bothering to confirm its hoped-for destruction.

      
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #10 Posted by Etienne Victoria on 23 Mar 2007, 2:37 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

To me, definitely the Hp10A: the expensive cash register.

Fragile and prone to failure Impotent keyboard for speedy calculations Ugly...see below

Edited: 23 Mar 2007, 2:47 p.m.

            
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #11 Posted by Dia C. Tran on 23 Mar 2007, 3:13 p.m.,
in response to message #10 by Etienne Victoria

Never had one so I can't say about how it works but it does look very good in the picture. Expensive cash register??? I think most cash registers cost more than the HP10.

Edited: 23 Mar 2007, 3:14 p.m.

                  
Re: Worst (hp) calculator ever?
Message #12 Posted by GE on 23 Mar 2007, 5:42 p.m.,
in response to message #11 by Dia C. Tran

The HP10A is one of the rarest and most sought after models.
I wish you the luck to get one some day.
Probably few cash registers cost more (second hand).

My vote for the worst HP goes to the HP38G, the less usable graphical calculator I own. The programming, general behavior, and function set are exactly fine tuned to induce nervous breakdown.
As for the 6S, yes it looks bad but it packs lots of function, and mine has not failed - yet. So it was less of a bad surprise.

      
I hate my 15C!!!!!
Message #13 Posted by Les Wright on 24 Mar 2007, 9:39 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

With apologies to Catherine Deneuve in that old commercial, I hate it because it is so beautiful.

It was an early acquistion for me and I paid premium price for it. The owner said it was like new and was right, a fact that became evident only when I got my well worn 11C and had a mode of comparison.

I am afraid to look at it funny. It stays in the case and every few weeks I take it out to admire it, then put it back quickly lest I scratch it.

I feel it is going to waste! I am wondering if I should trade with someone who has a less-than-perfect one that I won't fear using.

On the other hand, my 42S, which cost me even more and is well worn, gets used all the time, and occasionally I have to rescue it from under the belly of one of the fatter cats that live on my desk.

Damned perfect 15C. It many never get to truly know you....

Les

            
Re: I hate my 15C!!!!!
Message #14 Posted by Namir on 24 Mar 2007, 10:36 a.m.,
in response to message #13 by Les Wright

Les,

Maybe an HP-15C emulator from RLM Tools can help solve your problem. You can use the emulator without worrying and wear and tear. It lives on your PC and if you have a laptop, it can go with you!!! The emulator can save your programs to the PC and load them later--big convenience. In addition, you can easily view memory registers, programs steps, and so on, in pop-up windows. If you get a master membership (one time fee) you get all of the emulators. There is an HP41 emulator in the works. I am not affiliated with that site. I am just a happy customer

Namir

            
Perfect HP-15C -- to use, or not to use?
Message #15 Posted by Karl Schneider on 24 Mar 2007, 3:01 p.m.,
in response to message #13 by Les Wright

Hi, Les --

Quote:
I am afraid to look at it funny. It stays in the case and every few weeks I take it out to admire it, then put it back quickly lest I scratch it.

I feel it is going to waste! I am wondering if I should trade with someone who has a less-than-perfect one that I won't fear using.


I'd use it anyway, with clean hands, and always putting it back into a drawer inside its slipcover or case when finished. There's no point in not using it; sometime many years down the road, it'll quit working.

Then there's Valentin's approach, using it only through a clear protective cover or glove.

-- KS

                  
Re: Perfect HP-15C -- to use, or not to use?
Message #16 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 24 Mar 2007, 3:32 p.m.,
in response to message #15 by Karl Schneider

Hi, Karl, Les:

Karl posted:

    "I'd use it anyway, with clean hands, and always putting it back into a drawer inside its slipcover or case when finished. [...] Then there's Valentin's approach, using it only through a clear protective cover or glove."

      Yes, that's true. I would advise against using such a perfect instance of an HP-15C with bare hands, because no matter how clean they are, they will nonetheless leave traces of greasy residues that in time will alter the touched surface. Also, unavoidable dust, particles, ambient humidity will also deposit slowly but surely over an unprotected surface.

      What I do with my HP-15Cs, even the not-so-mint one, and with all my calculators getting use for that matter (several HP and two SHARP) is to have them hermetically thermo-sealed inside a suitably tight-fitting clear teflon cover, which doesn't affect their usability or visibility in the least, but effectively reduces to nil any effects from fingers, dust, humidty, or whatever. Nothing can enter the sealed protection and I can take the calculator and do whatever calculations with it, almost no matter where, and it remains as mint as it was. Even the occasional water spill (or even sugared coffee!!) means *nothing* because it doesn't penetrate the teflon cover. They could stand open rain wholly unaffected, if necessary (which never is).

      I would suggest doing something similar and that failing, at least *do* *not* put the HP-15C in its original slip cover, because this is going to mar the finish and eventually the logo itself. Place it everywhere but its tight-fitting, slip cover. The teflon protection is fine enough but else there are much better covers for it available in the usual places, made of cow-hide and with extremely soft, non-dusting interiors.

Best regards from V.
                        
Re: Perfect HP-15C -- to use, or not to use?
Message #17 Posted by GE on 24 Mar 2007, 6:40 p.m.,
in response to message #16 by Valentin Albillo

How about changing batteries ? (not a problem for the 15C, actually !)
I rather use kitchen plastic film, is not durable but does the job and can be replaced easily.

                              
Re: Perfect HP-15C -- to use, or not to use?
Message #18 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 24 Mar 2007, 7:22 p.m.,
in response to message #17 by GE

Hi, GE:

GE posted:

    "How about changing batteries ? (not a problem for the 15C, actually !)"

      Exactly. Not a problem at all, because batteries last some 10 years or more, while the teflon covering only last 3 years or so, depending on use and abuse, before needing to be replaced.

    "I rather use kitchen plastic film, is not durable but does the job and can be replaced easily."

      Several problems with kitchen plastic film:

      • Not tough or resistant at all, gets easily teared or punctured, will deform very quickly with use. Thus, doesn't really protect the calculator as it should, at all.

      • Can't be thermo-sealed, so there's no way to hermetically seal it so that moisture and external agents aren't able to penetrate.

      • Ugly looking, and would stick to the calculator's surfaces, with unknown effects. Teflon is one of the very best antiadherent plastics, virtually no friction, and tolerates burning temperatures without damage. That's why it's heavily used in frying pans and kitchen appliances everywhere.
Best regards from V.
                        
Re: Perfect HP-15C -- to use, or not to use?
Message #19 Posted by Bill (Smithville, NJ) on 24 Mar 2007, 8:50 p.m.,
in response to message #16 by Valentin Albillo

Hi Valentin,

I never realized you treated your calculators so carefully.

Quote:
I would advise against using such a perfect instance of an HP-15C with bare hands, because no matter how clean they are, they will nonetheless leave traces of greasy residues that in time will alter the touched surface. Also, unavoidable dust, particles, ambient humidity will also deposit slowly but surely over an unprotected surface.

Why not put it in a sealed container and just look at it ever now and then? I really cannot imagine not being able to actually touch the keys and I don't mean through a plastic bag. I guess the difference is - do we collect them as a museum piece or as a fun piece of history to play with. If it's a museum piece, then frame it and hang it on the wall to look at and appreciate for it's beauty.

Me, I want to pick it up, touch it, use it, play with it, enjoy it, calculate with it, and generally have fun with it.

Bill

                              
Re: Perfect HP-15C -- to use, or not to use?
Message #20 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 24 Mar 2007, 9:42 p.m.,
in response to message #19 by Bill (Smithville, NJ)

Hi, Bill:

Bill posted:

    "Me, I want to pick it up, touch it, use it, play with it, enjoy it, calculate with it, and generally have fun with it."

      Correct, I want the same. It's only that different people do have different concepts of "having fun with". I simply wouldn't have fun at all if I touched the keys with my bare fingers or anyone else's, I would be upset to the max about it and would later have to give it a thorough and careful cleaning to remove any fingerprints and their unavoidable oily effects. That would take time, be no fun, and ultimately the frequent cleaning would have an undesirable effect on the surfaces.

      That would be no fun either, thus the teflon protection, which is as good as it gets and keeps me using (and enjoying and having fun with) my calculators as frequently as possible.

      Thanks for your heartfelt comment and

Best regards from V.

                                    
What I wish the 15c had...
Message #21 Posted by Gene on 25 Mar 2007, 1:18 p.m.,
in response to message #20 by Valentin Albillo

Rather than trying to add the kitchen sink / everything to the 15c, here are two or three things I really wish were different on the 15c that would make me use mine more. :-)

1) More RAM available for programs and/or data.

2) Kill the keycodes and use alpha for the function display. Something like the HP41 or TI66 even would be wonderful. I really hate that the 12c / 12cp still use keycodes!

3) Perhaps...Perhaps...a few more labels added somehow.

That's all I would do to an otherwise nearly perfect machine.

                                          
Re: What I wish the 15c had...
Message #22 Posted by Karl Schneider on 25 Mar 2007, 6:30 p.m.,
in response to message #21 by Gene

Hi, Gene --

Quote:
... here are two or three things I really wish were different on the 15c that would make me use mine more.

1) More RAM available for programs and/or data.


RAM was costly in the early 1980's. If another R2D2 chip could have been squeezed onto the circuit board, the extra 32 registers or so would have been very welcome, and would likely not have had any significant "side effects". Please see this thread, which also addresses the speed issue:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv016.cgi?read=94725#94725

Quote:
2) Kill the keycodes and use alpha for the function display. Something like the HP41 or TI66 even would be wonderful. I really hate that the 12c / 12cp still use keycodes!

Obviously, to make full alphanumerics possible would require a different display unit -- the HP-41 14-segment LCD or, better yet, dot-matrix. ALPHA support would also require a much bigger ROM.

Regarding keycodes, one feature I would have liked is for "A" through "E" to be displayed where appropriate (i.e., for labels and matrix identifiers) instead of a two-digit keycode. For example, "GTO A" would be displayed as "22 A" instead of "22 11". However, x2 would still be displayed as "43 11", because that fucntion has nothing to do with "A". This enhacement was, in fact, incorporated into the HP-20S, which had a much more capable processor and presumably more space available for ROM.

For what it is, the HP-15C is just about perfect. To add new significant capabilities would have certainly have required more-expensive new or additional hardware. After doing that, it just wouldn't be a Voyager-series model anymore.

-- KS

            
Re: I hate my 15C!!!!!
Message #23 Posted by Charlie O. on 24 Mar 2007, 4:06 p.m.,
in response to message #13 by Les Wright

Maybe you'd like to trade for this one?

http://www.geocities.com/cjoxford2/johnscalc.html

http://www.geocities.com/cjoxford2/johnscalc.html
                  
preformatting???
Message #24 Posted by Charlie O. on 24 Mar 2007, 4:08 p.m.,
in response to message #23 by Charlie O.

What's up with "pre formatting"?

                        
Re: preformatting???
Message #25 Posted by Jeff O. on 24 Mar 2007, 6:27 p.m.,
in response to message #24 by Charlie O.

Preformatting just preserves the formatting exactly as typed in the message box. If you wanted to make a hyperlink, like this:
http://www.geocities.com/cjoxford2/johnscalc.html
then you would need to type:
[url:http://www.geocities.com/cjoxford2/johnscalc.html]

                              
Re: preformatting???
Message #26 Posted by Charlie O. on 24 Mar 2007, 8:08 p.m.,
in response to message #25 by Jeff O.

Thanks Jeff.

I was clicking the "preformatted" button which I now realize is for listings. I needed to click on "more" and read the proper instruction.

            
Re: I hate my 15C!!!!!
Message #27 Posted by Les Wright on 24 Mar 2007, 4:58 p.m.,
in response to message #13 by Les Wright

I must admit there is another reason.

All of the stuff everyone loves about the 15C--matrices, complex numbers, keystroke programming, built-in integrator and solver--I just find a lot easier to use on the 42S, even though the latter is admittedly a lot less attractive to look at. The diarrheal brown and orange lettering on the Pioneers is just not nearly as aesthetically gratifying as the colour scheme of the Voyageurs. And there is of course that annoying faint display on the 42S. The crisp and flawless display on my 15C is impeccable.

Les

                  
Re: I hate my 15C!!!!!
Message #28 Posted by Rodger Rosenbaum on 24 Mar 2007, 5:42 p.m.,
in response to message #27 by Les Wright

So buy another one!

I see several on ebay, e.g., item # 260099173439

                  
Re: I hate my 15C!!!!!
Message #29 Posted by Trent Moseley on 25 Mar 2007, 12:23 a.m.,
in response to message #27 by Les Wright

And the 42S has no roll-up button on the keypad! I can't believe it. If you don't like menus it's back the the old 25C mode and use three roll-downs.

tm

                        
"Roll up" function
Message #30 Posted by Karl Schneider on 25 Mar 2007, 1:00 a.m.,
in response to message #29 by Trent Moseley

Hi, Trent --

Quote:
And the 42S has no roll-up button on the keypad! I can't believe it. If you don't like menus it's back the the old 25C mode and use three roll-downs.

You may have seen my recent post noting that I put "Roll up" in the first level of a custom menu on the HP-42S

The "Roll up" function, truth be told, is most useful for programming. The HP-41 also doesn't have it on the keyboard; the HP-10C and HP-32S (to name several) don't have the function at all.

-- KS

                              
Re: "Roll up" function
Message #31 Posted by Trent Moseley on 26 Mar 2007, 9:12 p.m.,
in response to message #30 by Karl Schneider

Karl,

I agree with you completely when one is programing. However when I'm just banging around doing some calcs no way am I going to use a menu to get a roll-up, so ala HP-25C it's three roll-downs. The 42 in my opinion should have used two shift keys and relied a little less on menus.

tm

                                    
Re: "Roll up" function
Message #32 Posted by Ron Ross on 26 Mar 2007, 10:15 p.m.,
in response to message #31 by Trent Moseley

Has everyone forgotten about the custom Menu in the 42s? You can customize upto 18 functions onto the soft menu and just leave them there for your convience if you need a certain set of functions on a repetative basis.

Merely assign the Rollup function to the key above ie rplace the SQRt and Voila! you now have the roll up key w/o second function, if that pleases you.

I love my Hp15c, but for me the Hp42s replaced it. I do like the form factor and admittedly complex numbers are integrated well, but the programming and customability of the 42s make it my calculator of choice (YES, IT IS 1 cm to DAMN TALL!).

                                          
Re: "Roll up" function
Message #33 Posted by Trent Moseley on 26 Mar 2007, 10:26 p.m.,
in response to message #32 by Ron Ross

Ron,

How about two shift keys and relying a little less on menus?

tm

                                    
HP-41/42 "View" vs. "Roll up" function
Message #34 Posted by Karl Schneider on 27 Mar 2007, 12:44 a.m.,
in response to message #31 by Trent Moseley

Hi, Trent --

Quote:
However when I'm just banging around doing some calcs no way am I going to use a menu to get a roll-up, so ala HP-25C it's three roll-downs.

There is also the "VIEW" command on the HP-41 and HP-42S, which can display a stack register without disturbing the stack and without requiring the user to think about and count "Roll downs". Unfortunately, it's not on the HP-42S keyboard, so the CUSTOM menu is good to utilize.

Quote:
The 42 in my opinion should have used two shift keys and relied a little less on menus.

Ah, but that would effectively renounce the "tidy face" design principle with no shifted function on the unbeveled key, developed for the Pioneer series. The 2nd shifted function would be printed adjacent to the first shifted function -- just like the menuless HP-20S and HP-21S, the subsequent HP-32SII, and the ancestor HP-34C.

-- KS

                                          
Re: HP-41/42 "View" vs. "Roll up" function
Message #35 Posted by Trent Moseley on 27 Mar 2007, 6:06 p.m.,
in response to message #34 by Karl Schneider

Karl,

You are indefatigable! I give up. But I still wish........

tm

                        
I sent my 15C to a teacher in Estonia
Message #36 Posted by Sam Levy on 2 Apr 2007, 11:45 p.m.,
in response to message #29 by Trent Moseley

The math prof was so taken with it he borrowed it over the summer. For all it's strange appearance the 33SII has roll up and down keys that are helpful in programming and selecting stored programs.

      
An HP calculator that "missed the mark"
Message #37 Posted by Karl Schneider on 27 Mar 2007, 12:53 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

Hi, Max --

Another "10" -- the Voyager-series HP-10C -- wasn't even a bad calculator by any means, but I'd say that it "missed the mark", and thus lasted less than three years on the market. Here's an archived post of mine linking to several other posts:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv016.cgi?read=92143#92143

-- KS

            
Re: An HP calculator that "missed the mark"
Message #38 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 27 Mar 2007, 6:33 a.m.,
in response to message #37 by Karl Schneider

Hi, Karl:

Karl posted:

    "[...] but I'd say that it "missed the mark", and thus lasted less than three years on the market."

      Actually, it lasted less than *two* years, more like 1.5 years to be exact:

          Introduction Date: 1982-09-02
       Discontinuation Date: 1984-03-01

      (Source: google for "Finseth, HP-10C" or have a look at Wlodek's Guide")

      Nice machine, though. I like it very much on aesthetic grounds, having all the good physical points of the Voyager series, plus utmost simplicity with that uncluttered keyboard and that single yellow shift key. I think it would have made an excellent "Four-Function ++" calculator for anyone, me included, if it had been much less expensive. If it were commercially available right now, with the exact same quality as before but for, say, $50, I would certainly buy several, both as gifts and to have one available at all places.

      The sad truth is, it's outrageously difficult to find, though I managed to get a mint one a few years ago for just $200, which is one of the high-points in my little collection, along with the SHARP EL-5101, PC-1421, and PC-1425.

Best regards from V.

                  
Re: An HP calculator that "missed the mark"
Message #39 Posted by Karl Schneider on 28 Mar 2007, 12:12 a.m.,
in response to message #38 by Valentin Albillo

Hi, Valentin --

Quote:
I think it would have made an excellent "Four-Function ++" calculator for anyone, me included, if it had been much less expensive.

I agree that the HP-10C was still a good, quality-built basic scientific calculator. To me, however, excellence would have required the presence of backspace, %CH, hyperbolics, and (perhaps) roll_up. All of these could have been provided with room to spare if its crude programming had been omitted.

I also bought mine several years ago, for $225 -- a near-mint specimen whose owner stated having used it for his job helping to design a major new airport in the US. It's the most I've paid for any single calc (excluding accessories).

-- KS

                  
Sharp Calculators
Message #40 Posted by Trent Moseley on 29 Mar 2007, 11:37 p.m.,
in response to message #38 by Valentin Albillo

Valentin,

You mentioned several Sharp calcs in your previous message. I know nothing about those models but I have a Sharp PC-1500A and a Radio Shack TRS-80 (made by Sharp) whose programs can interface with each other. Are they comparable to yours?

tm

                        
Re: Sharp Calculators
Message #41 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 30 Mar 2007, 5:58 a.m.,
in response to message #40 by Trent Moseley

Hi, Trent:

Trent posted:

    "[...] I have a Sharp PC-1500A and a Radio Shack TRS-80 (made by Sharp) whose programs can interface with each other. Are they comparable to yours?"

      I also own a SHARP PC-1500A and two TRS-80 Pocket Computer units which, as you say, are exact clones of the pioneer SHARP PC-1211 save for minor cosmetic changes.

      These are very worthy machines and they're certainly comparable to the models I discussed in my post in terms of physical quality, ruggedness and reliability, mines do work absolutely great and look new after some 20-25 years.

      However, in terms of programming power, being the very first, pioneering models introduced into the market, they were later succeeded by more advanced models, with enhanced BASIC language, more RAM, larger displays, faster CPUs, etc. This doesn't demean them at all, they were the first ones and is only natural that improved versions would hit the market next.

      It would be akin to compare an HP-65 to an HP-41C, say. It's not that the HP-41C is "better", it's simply that it wouldn't be a fair comparison to begin with. But in terms of actual capabilities, regardless of their time frames, yes, the HP-41C is more capable than the HP-65 and the SHARPs I mentioned in my post are more capable than the ones you have.

      I would suggest two things, if you're still interested in SHARP machines and would like to get to know them better:

      • Get some of these models (in order of easy availability thus low price): PC-1350 or PC-1360, PC-1262, PC-1475, PC-E500S, PC-1421 (Financial).

      • Get a copy of my article "Know Thy Foe - A New Contender", a 12-page article published in the 2006 May/June issue of Datafile (V25N3P21-32) which features a very thorough comparison between the HP-41C and the SHARP PC-1211 (i.e. your TRS-80 PC-1), including several pictures, many code snippets, 2 complete programs for the HP-41C and 6 complete programs for the SHARP including:

        1. Towers of Hanoi Puzzle (8 lines)
        2. Hyperbolic Functions (6 lines)
        3. Computing e (2.71828...) to 575 decimal digits (6 lines)
        4. Solving the general "N-Queens in an NxN chessboard" Puzzle (9 lines)

        I think you'll enjoy both the article and the featured programs a lot and will learn new facts and techniques from them.

    Thanks for your interest and
Best regards from V.
                              
Re: Sharp Calculators
Message #42 Posted by Gene on 30 Mar 2007, 7:59 a.m.,
in response to message #41 by Valentin Albillo

The 1403 is similar to the 1475, except that the matrix functions are calculator mode only, is that correct? Would make them much less useful, IMO.

The EL-5510 aka 1421 (that I picked up recently) is quite nice. Keeping my eyes open for some of the others.

                                    
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1421 in particular
Message #43 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 30 Mar 2007, 9:13 a.m.,
in response to message #42 by Gene

Hi, Gene:

Gene posted:

    "The 1403 is similar to the 1475, except that the matrix functions are calculator mode only, is that correct? Would make them much less useful, IMO."

      The matrix functions in the SHARP PC-1475 are also "calculator mode only" if by that you mean that they can't be included in BASIC programs, unlike the financial functions of the SHARP PC-1421 which indeed can.

      This does detract from their usefulness but the matrices used in calc mode (matrix mode more like) are shared with BASIC variable space, so you can have a BASIC program do something with a matrix (perhaps initialize it with computed entries dependent on previous user inputs, say), momentarily pause for the user to do something more using the fast built-in matrix functions, then CONTinue with your BASIC program which can then take those matrices and further process them or print them to a printer or to some mass storage device. Certainly not as convenient as having the capability to insert them into your own programs, but not absolutely impossible to pre-process and post-process the matricial data and results either.

      The real difference between the 1403 and the 1475 are:

      • The LCD display: 1 line (1403) versus 2 lines (1475).

      • The SHARP PC-1475 has double-precision variables and calculations, up to 20 significant digits. This is actually a very important feature for many (if not all) applications, I've always wondered why there are so few advanced models implementing this feature, even if as an option.

    "The EL-5510 aka 1421 (that I picked up recently) is quite nice. Keeping my eyes open for some of the others."

      By the way, Gene, being the knowledgeable financial expert that you are, I would be *extremely* interested in reading your review of this PC-1421 as compared with the HP-12C, namely:

      • What do you think of it now that you know it well ? How does it compare with the HP-12C not 'on paper' but in the real world, in actual financial use ? Pros ? Cons ? Would you be caught dead using a 1421 in public, in a financial meeting, say ?

      • Have you written any programs for it, mostly those which would exploit its much larger RAM (4 Kb), faster CPU, printing capabilities, and advanced BASIC programming language features such as arrays, merging programs and data from tape, etc ? Would you care to publish some or let us know you impressions on its programming features ? Could we have a look at some actual BASIC code for this machine ?

      I own one myself, but I'm no financial expert whatsoever so I am not really entitled to do a full review of its financial aspects, this would be an ideal task for mega-experts like Tony Hutchins and yourself.

      I wonder what both of you would do when programming this 1421 model, when taking into account the absolute wonders you've provided us with while constricted by the HP-12C's tremendous programming limitations.

    Thanks in advance for any inputs and/or comments on this and
Best regards from V.

Edited: 30 Mar 2007, 9:14 a.m.

                                          
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1421 in particular
Message #44 Posted by Gene on 30 Mar 2007, 9:56 a.m.,
in response to message #43 by Valentin Albillo

Thanks for the clarifications about the 1475 vs. 1403. I did not know that. I had assumed the 1475 matrix functions were BASIC programmable.

I've had the EL-5510 for only a little over a week and have only played with it a bit. I'll write up my impressions after I use it for something "real".

I've also got a Sharp Wizard OZ-8200 coming. 64K of ram along with the double precision math/BASIC card should make it interesting to use.

Just dipping my toe into the sharp world so far.

Gene

P.S. Tony is the expert around here, not me. My only strength seems to be a reasonable ability to explain things to others once I understand them. If I could make a living at it (the kind of living I want, that is), I'd have continued teaching. Alas.

                                          
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #45 Posted by HrastProgrammer on 31 Mar 2007, 5:23 a.m.,
in response to message #43 by Valentin Albillo

Hi Valentin and Gene,

Sharp threads are always interesting to me because I was involved into Sharps very much, long time ago ...

It is true that matrix operations are not accessible from BASIC using BASIC commands and functions but this doesn't mean that they aren't accessible at all :-)

I remember hacking PC-1403 some 20 years ago. I disassembled and analyzed large portions of its ROM (PC-1403 has 8K of ROM built-into CPU and 64K of bank-switched ROM in 4x16K banks). Between many other things, I found all matrix operations addresses in ROM. Fortunatelly, they are all located in ROM4 which is active by default when executing CALL so calling them from BASIC was possible without any trouble.

For example, suppose that you want to solve the following system of linear equations from the PC-1403 users manual (page 77):

2x + 5y -  z = -1
 x -  y + 4z = 12
3x + 2y +  z =  9

The following program can do this without even blinking:

5 "A": CLEAR: RESTORE 20
10 DIM X(2,2): FOR I=0 TO 2: FOR J=0 TO 2: READ X(I,J): NEXT J: NEXT I
20 DATA 2,5,-1,1,-1,4,3,2,1
30 DIM Y(2,0): FOR I=0 TO 2: READ Y(I,0): NEXT I
40 DATA -1,12,9
50 CALL 26132: REM invX->X
60 CALL 26119: REM X*Y->X
70 FOR I=0 TO 2: PRINT X(I,0): NEXT I

Type DEF A and after less than 2 seconds this program will start printing the results: 3, -1 and 2 ... The results are saved into X because PC-1403 used regular X, Y and M variables to work with matrices.

Best regards.
HrastProgrammer

                                                
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #46 Posted by Massimo Gnerucci (Italy) on 31 Mar 2007, 8:46 a.m.,
in response to message #45 by HrastProgrammer

I couldn't expect less from Hrast...

You're great!

Massimo

                                                      
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #47 Posted by HrastProgrammer on 31 Mar 2007, 9:05 a.m.,
in response to message #46 by Massimo Gnerucci (Italy)

Thanks, Max :-)

                                                            
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #48 Posted by Namir on 31 Mar 2007, 5:10 p.m.,
in response to message #47 by HrastProgrammer

You should be working for HP's R&D department!!!

ARE YOU LISTENING HP??????????????

Namir

                                                
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #49 Posted by Gene on 31 Mar 2007, 10:09 a.m.,
in response to message #45 by HrastProgrammer

The master!

Do you have the list handy of all the matrix functions addresses? You've provided two...what others do you have? :-)

Gene

                                                      
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #50 Posted by HrastProgrammer on 31 Mar 2007, 10:24 a.m.,
in response to message #49 by Gene

Yes, I have addresses of all of them on paper because this was my main "storage medium" at that time when all of my "armament" consisted only of Texas Instruments TI-57, Sharp PC-1251 and Sharp PC-1403. The only "mass storage" device I had was a simple cassette recorder. BTW, PC-1403 was my main calculating machine until I bought HP-48GX.

I will retype and post them during the weekend ...

                                                      
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #51 Posted by HrastProgrammer on 1 Apr 2007, 1:40 a.m.,
in response to message #49 by Gene

Here is the list of PC-1403 ROM matrix subroutines I found:

26109 X+Y->X
26114 X-Y->X
26119 X*Y->X
26124 X*invY->X
26132 invX->X
26140 (x)+X->X
26148 (x)-X->X
26153 (x)*X->X
26158 (x)*invX->X
26163 X<>Y
26171 trnX->X
26176 detX->(x)
26181 -X->X
26186 squX->X
26191 X->M
26199 M->X
26204 X+M->X

X, Y and M are matrices (DIMensioned 2-dimensional BASIC arrays) while (x) is the simple BASIC variable X. For example, X=10: CALL 26153 will multiply matrix X with a scalar value 10 and CALL 26176: PRINT X will print the determinant of matrix X. Using the above subroutines I was able to squeeze really big programs dealing with matrices into the limited PC-1403 memory (some 6878 bytes after reset).

But, please, don't take for granted that these addresses will work in all PC-1403s because of various ROM revisions or because I maybe retyped some of them incorrectly ...

                                                
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #52 Posted by bill platt on 31 Mar 2007, 3:29 p.m.,
in response to message #45 by HrastProgrammer

AS an amateur ornithologist I am thrilled by this stuff--digging into the machine and finding capabilities, even if I am incapable of using them myself. It is like finding a stray European gull in Massachusetts or something.

                                                
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #53 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 2 Apr 2007, 7:30 a.m.,
in response to message #45 by HrastProgrammer

Hi, Hrast:

    Thank you very much for your most worthwhile contribution to this thread.

    I was aware of the fact that the matrix routines could perhaps be called from BASIC either directly by a CALL statement as you did, or else indirectly by using PEEK and POKE to enter some custom machine-language routine which would previously set up whatever was necessary to access them, then a CALL to this initializing routine.

    Mentioning this earlier in this thread was probably getting off-topic too much, as it likely would result in more questions which I didn't have the time to answer, so I'm very glad that you already had solved this matter in the far past and had a list of relevant addresses at hand, and the knowledge that they could be called directly, no initialization needed.

    Come to think of it, I'm sure I have the full ROM listing of this machine available in some of the books I own dealing with SHARP PCs machine-language programming. I did also buy a PC-1403 from a very nice German seller which accompanied it with a whole big-sized folder full of his notes, machine-language routines, tentative ROM dissassemblies, hardware notes, relevant clips cut from magazines, the works. I've never had the time to closely have a look at it, but the info isn't lost, and could be useful for future threads like this one, again if not too off-topic.

    Thanks again, I'll try your entry points in my PC-1403 to see if they work in its ROM revision, and

Best regards from V.
                                                      
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1403 in particular
Message #54 Posted by HrastProgrammer on 2 Apr 2007, 8:10 a.m.,
in response to message #53 by Valentin Albillo

Thanks Valentin, Bill, Gene, Namir, Max, ...

I hope some of you will find these addresses useful ...

I remember being very surprised by the simplicity of their usage. There was no initialization needed and you could use them almost as simple as using the regular BASIC instructions. I am wondering why Sharp didn't provide at least one BASIC matrix instruction (for example, MATRIX n where n=1..17). They cerainly had some unused BASIC tokens at their disposal and all this won't require a lot of ROM.

I'm sure I have the full ROM listing of this machine available...

I disassembled the whole 24K PC-1251 ROM manually and started to disassemble PC-1403 ROM but then it was time to go to the army so only the most important addresses were disassembled and explored. Later I moved to other things and this job was never finished :-(

Best regards.
Hrast

      
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #55 Posted by Antonio Maschio (Italy) on 2 Apr 2007, 11:20 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Maximilian Hohmann

Any news about the dissasembly of the PC-1401 ROM? Has it any point that could be interesting to the user, though no matricial enhancement was present?

-- Antonio

            
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #56 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 2 Apr 2007, 11:56 a.m.,
in response to message #55 by Antonio Maschio (Italy)

Hi, Antonio:

    This is the book I own about programming the SHARP PC-1401 in machine language:
             Maschinensprache Handbuch PC1401/1402

    Verlag Fischel GMBH ISBN 3-924327-11-4

    which probably includes the kind of documentation you're searching for, but it is in German and I don't know if an English (or Italian for that matter) translation does exist. Perhaps you can locate either the original or some translation at online book stores or auction sites.

    Pretty interesting stuff for the vocational "tomb raider", though ...

Best regards from V.
                  
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #57 Posted by Antonio Maschio (Italy) on 3 Apr 2007, 2:29 a.m.,
in response to message #56 by Valentin Albillo

Thanks (or should I say Danke?).

-- Antonio

                        
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #58 Posted by Klaus on 3 Apr 2007, 3:42 a.m.,
in response to message #57 by Antonio Maschio (Italy)

A good resource for SHARP literature are university libraries. They were used in Network Analysis, Business and Economy, and there are even books about Games in the libraries.

                              
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #59 Posted by GE on 10 Apr 2007, 4:16 a.m.,
in response to message #58 by Klaus

There are several official Sharp TRMs ("Technical Reference Manuals") available, some are on the Web including the one for the PC1500.
See here : http://www.pc1500.com/technical_reference_manual.html
I don't know any place for such document specifically for the 14xx line.

                                    
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #60 Posted by GE on 11 Apr 2007, 6:41 a.m.,
in response to message #59 by GE

Without an on-calc assembler (not possible in that small RAM IMHO), you'd be better use a cross-assembler. Ideally it would spit out a BASIC program made of POKE or DATA (+loop) statements capable of putting the target program in RAM.
No knowledge if that sort of beast exists.
I don't think you can directly import machine code from the serial interface.
Another way is to write the machine code on tape, as there is a statement to load ML from tape, but that would be more complex than the BASIC loader method.

Good luck.

                  
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #61 Posted by David Jedelsky on 10 Apr 2007, 10:24 a.m.,
in response to message #56 by Valentin Albillo

Hi, it sounds good. Is there any reference to ROM addresses of arithmetic routines in this book?

I know other book with description of some ROM routines and system variables (also in German):

SHARP Pocket Computer PC-1401 System Handbuch Tips, Trick und Programme

Antonio, are you looking for something special or just for general reference?

Best Regards,

David

                        
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #62 Posted by Antonio Maschio (Italy) on 10 Apr 2007, 10:53 a.m.,
in response to message #61 by David Jedelsky

Quote:
Antonio, are you looking for something special or just for general reference?

Well, just to be able to program in machine language on my beloved Sharp PC-1401; of course this means:

- knowing the mnemonics codes
- knowing the calling addresses of library routines (I/O, calculation, math function, and so on).
- knowing about the processor.

It's not a real need, of course. No hurry. Only a curiosity if someone, somewhere, has retrieved such information and published a pdf (or some sort of) book about it.

Thanks everyone for helping.

-- Antonio

P.S.: has the PC-1500 the same chip of the PC-140X series?

                              
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #63 Posted by Xerxes on 10 Apr 2007, 4:33 p.m.,
in response to message #62 by Antonio Maschio (Italy)

The PC-1401 has a SC61860 @ 0.576 MHz inside used in many Sharp Pockets mostly running at 0.768 MHz. The PC-1500 uses a LH5801 @ 1.3 MHz not compatible to the SC61860 at all.

The instruction set of this CPU is a bit strange. Have a look to the various assembly versions of the same algorithm here.

                              
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #64 Posted by David Jedelsky on 10 Apr 2007, 4:39 p.m.,
in response to message #62 by Antonio Maschio (Italy)

Hi, as I know the PC-1500 has another cpu called LH5801. If you are interested in PC-1401 assembler try to google for SC61860 (which is cpu used in those machines). There are a lot of resources about this cpu e.g. this page. Feel free to contact me by email with technical questions about cpu and PC-1401 (actually I have PC-1402 but it is the same as PC-1401 just with bigger memory).

Best Regards, David

                              
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #65 Posted by Antonio Maschio (Italy) on 11 Apr 2007, 3:57 a.m.,
in response to message #62 by Antonio Maschio (Italy)

Well, what to say? Only the MoHPC has such wonderful people.

Thanks.

-- Antonio

                              
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #66 Posted by Massimo Gnerucci (Italy) on 11 Apr 2007, 1:01 p.m.,
in response to message #62 by Antonio Maschio (Italy)

Antonio,
why not having a look at Pockemul site? There you'll find a complete emulator for several of these old Sharp models. I was using version 0.9 but I see that now v.0.9.2 is available.
At first I cannot find now the disassembler that was previously available, that could help you in understanding more the way those machines work.

HTH!

Greetings,
Massimo

                                    
Re: Sharp Calculators: PC-1401 in particular
Message #67 Posted by Antonio Maschio (Italy) on 11 Apr 2007, 3:11 p.m.,
in response to message #66 by Massimo Gnerucci (Italy)

Grazie, grazie, Massimo,

this site is very interesting (I didn't know it); you showed me the way to test programs without cluttering up the calculator.

-- Antonio


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