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Starting Your Kids On The Right Path

Posted by Chris Lott on 2 Apr 2000, 10:09 p.m.

First, I fondly remember my first calculator of any type - an HP-25 that my mother got me when I was a Junior in High School. That would've been late 77 or so. She was a college math teacher at the time, and insisted that I use an RPN calculator. Back then, algebraic calculators weren't the overwhelming market sellers as they are now. I used it for many years, even through my first few years at Ga Tech. Finally, I broke down and purchased an HP-34C that was on clearance at the bookstore, which I used for many more years. Ever since, I have been sold on HP's quality calculators. I have owned since then an HP-15C, an HP-28S, an HP-48SX, and an HP-42S. These days I use an HP-32S almost exclusively.

The recollection that I most wanted to share was of my boss, when I had my first real job as a coop student. He was an older engineer, and I later learned had numerous HP programs that he had written for the 9100. One day, I was walking down the hall past his office (this would have been in the early 80's). He was scratching his head, and had about 4 each HP-9100's all opened up and spread out across his conference table. I asked what he was doing. He replied that he needed to run one of his old programs, and his 9100 was on the fritz. To fix it, he dug up three other units from the basement, and was swapping circuit cards around until he found the right combination to make his unit work again. I was just amazed at all this (keep in mind I had an HP-25 in my pocket), and wished him luck in his venture. Later, when it was working, he showed me how *his* calculator worked, and I remember being impressed at how similar it was to mine - and you could see the whole stack at once! This wasn't possible again until the newer multi-lined displays became popular, like in the 28S, 48 series, and the 42S.

I am currently wrestling with what kind of calculator to start my kids on. These days, they start much earlier than high school. All the examples in their texts assume an algebraic model, but I think I'm going to make them at least try out RPN for a few weeks, anyway. I've dug up my 34C and have it all repaired and working. Now to resurrect the old 25...


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