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First Exposure to Bill and Dave's World

Posted by Matt Kernal on 10 Oct 2003, 9:22 p.m.


My first exposure to HP and their calculators occurred in 1986 (Yeah, I know, I'm late to the game).

I had just finished college, and had my first engineering position with a small automation/robotics integrator in Portland Oregon.

I was considering buying a new 41CV (nearly everyone in the office had HP's), when a mechanical engineer mentioned he had one that was issued to him while he was in the US Navy. He said he preferred his own 15C, so the 41 sat unused in a drawer.

When he did go to use the 41, it wouldn't turn on, and found it to be terribly corroded from battery leakage. For some reason, he couldn't bring himself to throw it out. He said if I wanted to try fixing it, I could have it, batteries and everything. I took it.

Not having anything to lose, I was unsuccessful in trying to (now don't laugh) solder the flex-circuit battery traces back together, which ended up in a worse mess than when I started. So I mailed the calculator (with batteries still in it) "down the road" to Corvallis, asking for a repair estimate. I received a $90 quote stating HP would have to receive the check before they could begin the repair.

Not having owned anything HP before, I didn't realize what HP's definition of "repair" meant. But I was aware of how destructive the corrosion (and myself) had been to the 41, and had to weigh the cost of what I had pictured in my mind of what a "repaired" calculator might look like for $90, or a new one for around $145. I had to think about it a few days.

(OK, I'm almost done. :-)

Two days later, and not yet having made my decision, I received a package from HP containing a Brand New 41CV! A letter inside said HP decided to repair the calculator at no cost to me, and would bill the battery manufacturer the $90 fee, because the battery leakage was no fault of my own. And this, on an out-of-warranty calculator!

I was taken back and thrilled at the same time! I had never seen or heard of any company going to bat as they did for me, a first time customer. I couldn't believe it. If this was how they stood behind what was then one of their least expensive products, I couldn't imagine going anywhere else when it came time to purchasing expensive test equipment (which my new job did require). I was SOLD on HP!

I was so pleased with the fortunate outcome, I thanked my friend with $50 for giving me his old 41. Somehow, it doesn't seem enough today, with all the enjoyment I've gained over the years from these calculators.

I still have that great calculator.

And that's all there was.




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