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Posted by e.young on 20 July 2006, 5:20 p.m.

I became a convert to HP and RPN during my junior year of college in structural engineering. I had been using TI and Casio, but I remember having to replace them every semester, and I considered them disposable. The conventional wisdom at the time was that HP calculators were hard to use and expensive. I saved up my money and got the 11c in 1988 (still have it and it works great). I was amazed at how easy it was to use, how powerful it was, and how I was able to perform calculations so much faster thanks to RPN. I often had to go through long chains of calculations and RPN was perfect for that. The build quality and design were near perfect. I was hooked for life.

I then moved on to the 32sii after I had been out of school for a couple of years. Now I had a machine that was faster, did fractions, and could store equations-all absolutley perfect for me. This warhorse was repeatedly dropped, had a stack of books fall on it, was once speared by an aluminum stick file, but still worked fine. I could not imagine performing my work as an engineer without this machine. I consider this calculator and the other older HP calculators to be serious tools in the hands of an engineer, not toys as many of the other calculators are. Sadly, HP's most recent offerings don't hold a candle to the old ones.

I try to convert the "heathens" that I encounter at work, but many seem content with their little TI30's. They are amazed that I pay for a relatively expensive HP calculator. I explain to them that using an HP with RPN is like framing a wood framed building with a nail gun, but using a toy from TI would be like using a 12 ounce hammer. Both will get the job done, but I'd rather use the gun.

I have a stockpile of 32sii and 33s, so that if HP does abandon RPN I will be able to finish my career using the right tool.


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