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HP-35 and beyond

Posted by Erik Wahlin on 16 Sept 2000, 12:58 a.m.

I was just a 12 year old kid when my dad took me down to the "cyclotron" at the nuclear physics building at CU (Univ. Colo.) where he worked and showed me a HP-35. It was secured in a security cradle I remember. I was totally amazed by this device. Up to this time, my dad had taught me how to use various slide rules (including a cylindrical one), but this calculator was just to easy to use and unbelievable to me! Well he (as well as myself) was hooked on HP calculators from this point on. He bought our family business (Colutron) a HP-35 around '72. Colutron, named after the University of Colorado manufactures ion sources and ion beam equipment. Later, he bought a HP-55 and gave the HP-35 to a machinist that worked at the cyclotron and also part time for our business. He to this day still works for our business and still uses that HP-35 at his shop!. He told me recently that he is going to give it back to us since it was our first calculator. Kind of like having that first dollar framed on the wall. He just needs to find something to replace it. Since he has been using RPN for over 25 years he says he will need to get another HP. That old 35 has a couple spots where some hot metal chips melted a button or two. I might restore it with some of the 35 parts I have collected recently. Well, the HP-67/HP-97 series came out and my dad just had to have a 97. He also had to buy the HP-01 watch when it came out. After using the 97, I just knew I needed one too. Well $750 was a lot for a kid in high school back then (maybe even today for that matter!). I saved up my money (working part time for my dad for quite awhile) and bought a more affordable HP-67. Not that $450 was cheap! Well this guy was my constant companion all through college and later through graduate school in physics. I must confess that I may have cheated once on a undergraduate physics exam by quietly loading in a mag program card with an important equation. By graduate school, if you couldn't derive equations on paper, you were not going to last long. That old friend still sits on my desk, as well as a HP-97 I recently restored. Just recently my dad gave me his old HP-01. It's a little worn from wear, but is certainly a gem I will always treasure.


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