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On the Eve of My 2^14 Birthday

Posted by Bill Duncan, ve3ied on 22 Apr 2000, 9:25 p.m.

At midnight tonight I turn 2^14 days old, and my age flips to needing 15 bits. I figured that only the readers here might appreciate the significance. (My wife doesn't understand... )

I've had a special fascination with HP calculators at least as far back as when I was 2^13 days old (roughly 22 years ago). Not that I'm a brilliant mathematician you understand. I'm a programmer, and back then computers were either programmed with punched cards, toggle switches, or there were these little wonders.

The first HP to really catch my eye was the HP-65, and then the HP-25 (which was more in my price range at the time). Could I justify it? I wrestled with this for awhile until they brought out the HP-29C. That was my first HP. (It's still probably my favourite, many HP's later...)

Soon after, there was my first HP-41C. (As soon as I saw it, I knew that it was an HTH [Have to Have].) Around that time I started a local HP club here in Toronto with several other HP fans. In its hey-day we'd have over a hundred people coming out to meetings.

There was of course the seemingly endless thirst for new peripherals. (First, the card reader, the HP-IL devices, the modules...) Somehow I managed to keep up (without going to the poorhouse).

And darn them, they kept coming out with other calculators which were just as fun in their own ways. I ended up buying both the HP-15C and the HP-16C because of their unique qualities. (Someone else liked my HP-15C too, as it walked away once when I wasn't looking.)

There was the HP-95lx and the HP-48G which I picked up. And all of these machines were way ahead of their time and milestones in their own way. (Many more that I missed too, but then even *I* couldn't justify buying them all. And I'm a master at it! )

What is it that keeps drawing us to buy these machines? (And will HP get back on track to find out?)

A few weeks ago (on April 7th actually) I was exchanging email with a friend who had mentioned me in an article he was writing on Slackware Linux on ZD-NET. In the article he had gently suggested that I was an "old fart" for doing things the old Unix way (by editing config files by hand, and actually *liking* Slackware).

So I pulled out one of my trusty HP's (I think it was the hp-41cx) and punched in some numbers to see just how old I really was. That's when I discovered that I was fast approaching 2^14 days.

I also immediately recognized the digits in the number of seconds. By strange coincidence I was roughly sqrt(2)*1E9 seconds old that day. (Thats when I knew that I spend too much time with my calculators... )

So will I still have my collection of HP's when I turn 2^15 days? (If I'm still around...) And how many more will I have? (And when is my birthday anyway... )



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