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HP41C: More Memories

Posted by Raul F. Rueda on 2 Apr 2000, 10:11 p.m.

Reading "HP41 From Inside", "...Memories", "Mystique" and "Thank for…" led me back to my university times when I started studying electronics engineering in '79. My mum made an effort to buy me a Casio FX 120 calculator, which was kind of popular. Very simple machine, tough as an ox though. Believe me, I saw one falling from the third floor to concrete. It worked perfectly after placing the batteries back. And I learnt more stories like this. Anyway, this machine was my first sweetheart.

Some lucky guys were using TI30's and TI55C's at that time. Cool guys used TI58C's and TI59C's (expensive machines for Peruvian mortals). But some real aliens would use HP32E's and HP33E's or even a monster called HP67. Odd machines: "Where's the equal sign?" , "What's this ENTER for?" and "What about the parentheses?" were FAQ. Some friends of mine let me play with their machines, so I learned some RPN, although I must admit I couldn't really tell whether it was better than algebraic or not then.

Problems made me stop studying for some years. In '83, I returned and met other guys who used new Casio calculators (PB700 used BASIC and became popular). I knew of the existence of something called HP41. "H-pists" (kind of a translation from Spanish "achepista" which means hp addict more or less) said it was the Mercedes-Benz of the calculators. An old good friend of mine had visited the US and bought a HP41C for him. He was given a 41CV as gift the very next day! Well, he sold the 41C to me at the same price: US$200.00. A real fortune but far cheaper in comparison to the price listed for the HP Peruvian representative at that time (US$375.00). I sold my soul and bought it.

My wife knows nothing about scientific calculators but she liked the machine and thought I was getting crazy when she noticed I spent more time with my 41 than with her. And she confirmed her suspicious when heard me screaming after finishing my very first application program. Well, I've just stepped into the Hall of H-pists!

At the university, TI58's and 59's had almost disappeared. BASIC Casio's PB700 and PB1000 were used by most of students. They would say theirs were better than HP41. I used to smile a "wanna compete?". Witnesses can testify I defeated their machines running the same application programs with hard-to-process data. My 41 gave me the exact answers after some minutes, leaving the Casio's running in endless loops. H-pists became so proud. Most of us used to gather to chat about programming and hot news (when available) on accessories. This calculator turned out to be my true-love!

I met a classmate who worked with another HP representative. He taught me how to open the machine and maintain it. I even made some pocket money servicing some 41's…and had the opportunity to upgrade my machine to HP41CV (a dead CV was given to me with destroyed case and display but operational board). I could never afford a Card Reader or an Optical Wand. Not even a module. So I started hand-copying and making hardcopies of all the programs I could get 'till I finally got a good library, which I lost after lending it to a friend (yeah, you're right…!).

My 41CV died in '93. I got quite disappointed 'cause I ended using a simple pocketsize Casio (a bike after having used a Volvo!). But in mid '94 I managed to get a used 41CX (never asked where it came from for it was in good shape and cheap) with no manuals which led me to figure by myself what the extended and time instructions could mean. I managed to understand just a few. I haven't been able to get a copy of the HP41CX manuals so far.

I have been tempted by some friends to sell my good old 41CX. With the amount offered I could easily afford a 48GX, but I will keep my HP41CX 'till I die…or my biggest son kills it. He's about to finish high school and he's using a Casio (argggg!). I'm only waiting for the moment he is ready to learn RPN. Of course, I'll teach him all I know and pass my beloved second sweetheart to him.

HP41 forever!


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