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My Story From the 70's

Posted by John Lovda on 11 Apr 2006, 2:34 p.m.

I'm 58 years old and an MSEE graduate from the U of Ill. in Urbana in 1972. I can still remember when the HP salesman gave a demo of the brand new HP-35 to the students in April of that year.

I went to work for Shure Bros., Inc. in Evanston, IL dealing with audio and acoustics. I bought a virtually new HP-35 in the spring of 73 for $225 from a real estate agent who just got an HP-80 (for TVM). The next day I drove to the HP sales office, then in Skokie, to buy an extra battery pack. In the display room was an HP-45. I was so impressed by R>P conversions and 10 memories, I sold the 35 to another engineer in my office and ordered a 45 for $414, incl. tax.

For the following 4-5 years I went through the 45, 55, 25, 22 and 27. The purchasing technique was always the same. When the rumors or first hints of a new model would show up in EE Times or EDN, I would drive over to the Northwestern Univ. Engineering School and put up a few 3x5 cards selling my current model for $350. When the new model came out a few weeks later I would order it from Olympic Sales in LA for $350 ($400 list). I don't know why, but Olympic Sales was the ONLY place in the world selling them at a discount. I'm sure the engineering student who bought my old one wasn't too happy when the model he just bought for $350 was replaced by a new $400 model and his dropped from $400 to $300.

I took an evening course in celestial navigation in 1973 at the Adler Planetarium by the Lakefront. I remember the feeling of POWER when one other student and I out of about 30 people could compute declination and right ascention to 10 digits accuracy on our HP's while everyone else fumbled through the sight reduction tables interpolating values.

At the June CES Shows at McCormick Place in the 70's, the HP and TI booths were the first place everyone would run to. It was better than the new car introductions in September to see what features were packed in the new models.

I kept the HP-27 for almost 10 years and then moved to a 27s. The 27's were the best non-programmable models ever made in terms of breath of capabilities. I have two of them.

I just started to buy a few Classic models off ebay for nostalgic reasons. They were the most wonderful geek toys ever invented. I would never touch a TI to save my soul.


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