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An 11C story...

Posted by Regis Corbel on 30 July 2003, 9:19 a.m.

Born in 1969, I can't remember a day "hp" would express something else than Hewlett-Packard in my mind. I still can remember those strange looking machines a friend of us used to have, during the 70's, in his home office (much later, I knew they were Spice models : 25C, 32E, 34C - alas, they're lost now). One day, this friend explained to me what made these machines so "different". I was a kid (around 8 or 9), but "hp" had just become a symbol of excellence in my mind. And this bizarre number entering method, he called RPN...No parenthesis...No ù%*#!§ Equal sign...Great, I thought.

December 1985 : following scientific studies at Lycée Lyautey (very famous french High School, see in Casablanca (Morocco), it was time to upgrade my calculator (anyway, I was unable to use algebraic model; i was then using a Sharp calculator - which stills works today). A 11C became mine two days before Christmas. Eighteen years ago, an HP-11C cost 800 francs, that is, around 120 of today's euros/US dollars...

June 10th, 1987 : in a Lycée near Versailles (France), I'm about to begin the math exam for the Baccalauréat (the diploma you must have in France prior to entering University or engineer schools). Paper, pens, identity card...and my precious 11C. The subject of the exam arrives on my table. Everything around Pi and integration. Don't remember what happened, but my 11C falls down just before I begin to work. It falls and hits the corner of a hard wood piece of furniture...directly on the "Pi" key...During the 4 next hours, I had to enter Pi manually.

July 1987 : an official phone call tells me that I succeeded in obtaining the Baccalauréat. The same day, the "Pi" key of my 11C decides to work again. This wonderful machine doesn't even wear a mark of its fall !

July 2003 : my 11C, while perfectly working and in near perfect condition, has retired on the shelves - but I can see it everytime I enter my home office. My 11C is there, clean and shiny, with the four other Voyager models around it (all of them in excellent to pristine condition).

A 32Sii is now my everyday's calc. Each time it gets out of my suitcase, when the "hp" logo catches the light, I remember the day my 11C got out of its box for the first time - two days before Christmas 1985.


"C'est un HP-11C. Il y en a beaucoup comme lui. Mais celui-là, c'est le mien."


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