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36 years of HP ownership

Posted by Philip Wakeling on 1 July 2009, 4:00 p.m.

I recently stumbled across this forum and have enjoyed reading about peoples memories of their trusty HP calculators. I thought I would share mine.

I started engineering school at the University of Queensland in 1972 with a new Faber Castell slid rule (or Sly Drool, in Australian!) I am still amazed we managed to put men on the moon with these things. Anyhow, during that freshman year, word started to spread that there was a pocket calculator that could do everything a slide rule could do, plus keep track of the decimal point. A group of us got together to see if we could order a bunch of HP 35's directly from the distributor and get a break on the price.

So, in early 1973, out of the 200 or so students in my class, 100 ordered the HP's for AU$223.68 (about US$280.00 at the time). The other 100 classmates bought much cheaper TI 50's and within months were regretting their poor decissions. The HP 35 was much more reliable and with RPN, easier to use in engineering calculations. I graduated in 1976 with a BE in Metallurgical Engineering, in no small part thanks to my HP 35.

I moved to the USA in 1976 and my HP 35 served me well until the on/off switch finally quit in 1981. I replaced it with a programable HP 33E at that time and then bought an HP 41CV in 1986. My 41 died in 1994, so I replaced it with an HP 48g which just started acting up on a few buttons earlier this year. So, what to do? I imagine you have all guessed that it was replaced recently with an HP 50g, which I run in RPN mode. I am still struggling wiht the new location of the ENTER key - old habits are hard to break!

I love all these calculators and each new generation amazes me with the enormous computing power available at any time in such a small package. I have been able to run aluminum rolling mill models and planetry orbital simulations on things that fit in my pocket.

I still have my slide rules (3 diffferent types) and every HP I have ever owned. I feel I have the history of computing in my book case. My favorite is still the HP 35 - it has the funniest owners manual by far.


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