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HP-35 Unfair Advantage (plus HP-67 story)

Posted by John Meyer on 24 Aug 2000, 2:21 p.m.

My first memory of the HP-35 calculator was my midterm exam at Stanford in Professor Fred Gibbons EE-111 class. One of the problems on that test involved semiconductor diffusion, and it required that we calculate the value of "e" to the minus 28 power [Answer: 6.91 x 10(-13) ]. Out of a class of about twenty students, only one got the answer: the one guy who worked for HP and had purchased one of the first HP-35's using the 30% employee discount (they were $395 without the discount and none of us could even consider spending that amount of money). The rest of us, using only slide rules, forgot about using a Taylor series to simplify the problem, and got zero credit for that problem. As a result of this incident, Stanford banned calculator use during engineering exams for several years, until the prices came down into the range that students could afford.

I went to work at HP, the following year, while still a student, and got my own HP-35. I used it on homework assignments, and I bet it saved me 15-20 minutes each night doing engineering and physics problem sets. When I left HP three years later to go to business school, HP's management gave me an HP-67 as a "going away" present (I liked everyone there, and I guess they like me and wanted me to return). I still have that HP-67 and have used it several times a month, every year since then.

I can think of no other "tech" gadget that has not been totally obsoleted in the last twenty five years. No only is the HP-67 no obsolete, there is still nothing better than my HP-67.

John Meyer


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