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Full Name (family, given): Abraham, Ion
Location: New Mexico, USA
Entered: 17 Oct 2002, 8:49 p.m.
I've been meaning to post this forever, especially given that I was one of the original endorsers of the idea.
I am a 36 year old (born '66) male physical chemist (PhD '99), specializing in optical and (increasingly) mass spectroscopy. My arrival into the HP calculator world dates back to the mid eighties. My very first calculator in high school was a TI 55, which really wasn't bad, and cheap, and then I had a TI 59 for a while, which was my first exposure to programmable calculators. There are a lot of formulas in my business, and I've always been fascinated with programming, just making a machine DO things. Then I took a junior college algebra course one summer while still in high school, and in class they had an HP 67 tied down to a desk with one of those security cradles. I still remember that the first thing that drew me to it was the keys. There is (was?) something tactile about the keys of an HP, raised and slanted slightly, that makes you feel like you can just fly over the keyboard. You notice this distinctly on an exam, and they let us use the HP 67 on exams in that class. Then I looked up the price of one of these and about fainted. I waited impatiently until I was a couple of years into college, and the student store (at UC Berkeley) had discounts on HP's, and I bought my 41CX that I still have and use today. Constant memory and getting to see the actual commands in a program made it an absolute dream. The other big advantage of the 41 and other HP's was the application pacs. They, and the peripherals, said to the user, this really is a serious tool, for professional applications. Long live EduCALC, gone but not forgotten.
My first exposure to this collector's site ocurred when the battery pack on my 41CX finally died. I am eternally grateful to this group for helping me get it rebuilt. Prior to that, I had no idea that these things were collectible. So now I've started a small collection of them by going to auctions, etc. It helps that I work at Sandia, where many of these machines are still slowly being discarded when people retire and so forth. So now I have quite a few HP's, including a 97 that I use mostly for bills. I am also very fond of the 15C and 11C's. It is quite a mystery to me why they stopped making those. Everybody I knew loved them.
I also have a personal anecdote about the development of the 15C. I did my undergraduate work at Berkeley, also in chemistry, where I took a calculus class from a professor Kahan. He showed us early in the class how the algorithms on the 15C, which he said he had helped develop, were designed to be more accurate than previous models. I am sure that the appendix on accuracy of numerical calculations in the 15C Advanced Functions Handbook was written by him, because I can recognize his writing style (he was quite distinctive to say the least), and there is a footnote to his work in the same handbook in the section on Using Matrix Operations ( Kahan, W. "Numerical Linear Algebra," Canadian Mathematical Bulletin, volume 9, 1966, pp. 756-801). After the end of the course, he told us that he was mostly a computer scientist who had taught this course as a bet with his faculty friends, who were convinced that he would lose 90% of his students during the course of the class. He came close to losing the bet, and I can say that I have never encountered anyone discussing calculus in the same way before or since.
As to more personal details, my wife Melinda and I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have no kids. We are mostly from the San Francisco Bay Area, but find the Southwest much more enchanting. My other serious hobby is motorcycle touring. I have a 2001 Honda ST1100, that is very well suited for the long distances of New Mexico. I also enjoy photography, though I don't yet have the time and money to pursue it as a serious hobby.
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