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HP, a Dream Come True and More

Posted by BartD on 21 Dec 2006, 1:02 p.m.

My dream of owning an HP calculator dates back to 1975, during my sophomore year in an engineering college in the Philippines. My cousin, who was also taking engineering classes told me about an HP calculator that he really wanted to buy. I believe it was a HP-25. Unfortunately, his parents would not buy it because it was way too expensive. So he settled for a TI calculator, an SR-51A. But, every so often, I would visit this Chinese home appliance store in Manila that sold calculators, just to look at this tiny, great looking HP-25. I have been using a slide rule for those past two years and considered myself an expert on using it. But, in our engineering school, almost everyone was using calculators. To my disbelief, nobody had an HP; mostly, TI and Casio. My cousin let me use his SR-51A on a few occasions and after about a year, I had to have a calculator; tired of doing addition and subtraction and addition on paper. So there I went, to the same Chinese store and bought me a TI SR-51II. I probably had it for about a month or two until one day, during an exam, I accidentally knocked off my calculator off my desk chair and fell on the floor. How devastated I was when I tried to turn it back on, because it won’t turn on. I failed that exam because of that ( I still wished I brought my slide rule as a back up that day)! Poor quality, I thought! My cousin told me that if it were an HP it would not have broken that easy. But there was just no way for me to afford such an HP and so I had to go back using my slide rule for about a couple of months until that calculator was fixed. Honestly, I didn't miss that calculator except its ability to do addition and subtraction. I quit engineering school after four years and migrated to United States. I don’t know if I would have quit if I had an HP calculator during my college years; probably not.

Several years later, married with two little children, as we were walking inside a Target store in El Paso, we happened to pass by the calculator section of the store and quickly I noticed this beautiful HP calculator, an HP-27S. I have told my wife about my dream of owning a Hewlett Packard calculator, the best in the whole world, since I was in my engineering school days. To my disbelief, she bought me that calculator that day. Oh, I love my wife! At last, I finally owned an HP. During the next few weeks, probably months, that calculator was my toy. Everywhere I went, it's there in my pocket. Even our two wonderful little children (girl and boy) played with it. Not too long after that, I discovered an HP that could do symbolic math and again my wife bought one for me. Thanks, darling! This time it was a HP-28S. I just discovered the power of RPN. As before our children had a chance to push those crisp buttons and joyfully watched the screen as the calculator plots a graph of an equation. A couple of years later, after my return from deployment to Southwest Asia (yes, I am a US military servicemember, and I’m proud of it!) I again convinced my lovely wife to buy me the HP-48SX. What a machine! I studied the owner’s and reference manual religiously for weeks and I just could not believe what such calculator could do. During my professional development schooling (technical phase), which was about 12 weeks, our class had to do some lengthy iterations in calculating the mechanical advantage needed for recovery operations. Doing repetitious manual calculations to arrive at the correct mechanical advantage could take at least ten minutes using an “ordinary” calculator. About two days before our exam, I wrote a program on my HP-48SX that would do the whole “calculations” for me. How surprised were my classmates when I finished the exam while they were still doing their “lengthy” calculations on their nonprogrammable, non-RPN, and non-HP calculators. ( I was the distinguished graduate in that class, thanks HP!). Years later, with the birth of our second son, my passion for HP calculator continues. Of course, our children got their chance of “playing” with my precious “toys”. During my recent deployment to Iraq, I have come to know Ebay and this mighty Museum of HP Calculators. I am proud to say that I now own the following HP calculators: HP-11C, HP-12C, HP-15C, HP-25 (2 ea.), HP-67 (2 ea.), HP-41CV, HP-41CX (2 ea.), HP-27S, HP-28S, HP-48G, HP-48SX, and HP-48GX. On my current deployment to Iraq, with me are my HP-41CX and HP-15C. Again, thanks to my wonderful loving wife who let me have all these toys. Playing these mighty calculators in my spare time keeps me sane and motivated.

To this day, I still believe that somehow these calculators have something to do with our two children receiving their degrees in engineering this year. Me and my wife are now proud parents of a BS Electrical Engineering (daughter) and BS in Aerospace Engineering (son) degree holders. Our daughter used her HP-48GX ( that we bought for her during her senior year in high school) throughout her college years while our son ( I still don’t understand why: it must have been those times when I would not let him play my HP as much as his sister did) used a non-HP calculator; although we bought him a HP-38G while he was in junior high. Our daughter swears she would never use a non-RPN calculator. Nevertheless, I strongly feel that HP, with its high quality calculators, played a role in our children’s success. How I wish that HP would bring those high quality calculators back!


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