|Exponent display: explanation & other methods|
Message #9 Posted by Karl Schneider on 11 July 2007, 10:06 p.m.,
in response to message #8 by DaveJ
It's Ok when you have a negative exponent like "1.234E-3" as the minus sign makes it stand out. But positive exponents just get buried like "1.234E5" (it's worse on the LCD screen), it's just awful, a really bad design decision IMHO. An underscore would have been much better, like "1.234_5", or a small "L", or anything except "E"!
I agree with you that "1.234E5" is not very legible on 7-segment displays; I preferred the original method (used on all 10-digit models) of one or more blank characters separating the mantissa and the exponent, with an exponent minus-sign occupying one of those separators.
Perhaps the intent for the Pioneer series was to utilize that generally-understood display method of Fortran, C, and other languages to represent exponentiated numbers using an "E". This was certainly reasonable for the mid-grade and high-end Pioneers featuring dot-matrix displays, so it was simpler to do the same for the low-end Pioneers (HP-10B, HP-20S, and HP-21S) with their 7-segment displays.
However, "1.234E5" is more legible in standard alphanumeric fonts than in 7-segment displays, due to curvature of the numerals. Also, a display utilizing spaces between a mantissa and exponent would be impractical for compiled code, because of difficulty in parsing.
Casio models typically display an exponent using two smaller, elevated digits at the far right of the display. This renders some of the display space unavailable, however.