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What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
03-23-2014, 07:19 AM (This post was last modified: 03-23-2014 07:22 AM by colinh.)
Post: #1
What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
First of all, hello everyone :-) Secondly, I should admit I'm not an HP calculator expert. I have an HP 48GX and a 32S, and I'll probably get a 41CX one day. I also have a TI-59 and various emulators on my iPhone. (Then I have a record player and Nikon and Leica film cameras... you get the idea(*) ).

(*) perhaps not, though. I'm not exactly a technophobe.

Occasionally I muse on the 'progress' of the world and the effects computers, the internet (specifically the web) and digitization in general have had and on these occasions I get a bit nostalgic. Reading about the 41C or 67, and reviews about the latest calculators, it seems that many others miss the passing of the classics too.

And so the above question popped up. What exactly is it about programmable scientific calculators that people (ie. engineers and scientists) liked, that is missing from the current offerings? What is it that makes them preferable to a computer (or smart phone) in certain situations?

Thinking about this from a design perspective and arriving (perhaps) at the conclusion that such a calculator simply isn't possible these days might eliminate, or at least alleviate, the pain (as it were) of their passing. On the other hand, one might end up with the blueprint of a dream machine.



It seems to me that in some ways limitations (in moderation) can be a good thing. Having only 50-odd keys can be better than having 150. Having one or two rows of alphanumerics might, on occasion, be better than having a pixel display (be it 131x64 or 1920x1080).

On the other hand, arbitrary limitations (such as not being able to use complex numbers with particular functions) can be annoying.

The current calculators seem to be mostly directed at students, with some sort of "learning" bias, and are crippled in ways to prevent them being seen as computers, so that they can be used in exams.



What would a scientist/engineer want in a calculator? In which situations would they use it rather than a computer? Perhaps a starting point might be "my favourite calculator is/was the XXX. If only it had YYY ... !"
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03-23-2014, 08:25 AM
Post: #2
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
WP 34S.

Get one.

Get several.


The (currently) ultimate RPN calculator.


- Pauli
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03-23-2014, 09:01 AM
Post: #3
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 08:25 AM)Paul Dale Wrote:  WP 34S...The (currently) ultimate RPN calculator.
Sorry, but not for me. There are many other (HP) calcs which come into mind earlier: 15C, 32S, 32SII, 41, 42S, 17BII, 17BIIsilver. All of them are still available (more or less) through collector channels like eBay...the 17BIIsilver can still be bought from normal HP distributors.

-- Ray
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03-23-2014, 09:57 AM
Post: #4
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
Earlier does not mean better Smile

- Pauli
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03-23-2014, 11:12 AM
Post: #5
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
[quote='colinh' pid='7362' dateline='1395559186']
First of all, hello everyone :-)

Hello to you too!

People seem to have different needs. Plus, HP seems a bit distracted...

Me, I'd be happy with a selection of sturdy emulators along the lines of an i41cx, Prime or even 43S on my smartphone, but paired with a state of the art old-HP-style calculator keyboard which could either be physically attached or connected via bluetooth.

If that keyboard contained it's own logic board it could even have a one line LCD and at least serve as a standalone, non-programmable RPN-cruncher, when not connected to the smartphone.

For me, this might be an interesting combination of a well balanced number cruncher and high-end CAS-Power on demand!


a.n.
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03-23-2014, 04:03 PM
Post: #6
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 09:01 AM)Raymond Del Tondo Wrote:  
(03-23-2014 08:25 AM)Paul Dale Wrote:  WP 34S...The (currently) ultimate RPN calculator.
Sorry, but not for me. There are many other (HP) calcs which come into mind earlier: 15C, 32S, 32SII, 41, 42S, 17BII, 17BIIsilver. All of them are still available (more or less) through collector channels like eBay...the 17BIIsilver can still be bought from normal HP distributors.

Sorry, Raimund, you may not been aware of the task being to name scientific/engineering calculators. Looking at your (then reduced) list, I wonder in what aspects an HP-15C, -32S, or -32SII are better than a WP 34S. IMHO the latter runs circles around those oldies in all aspects, though I admit being slightly biased in that matter.

Back to the original question: My personal dream calculator would be one featuring
  • RPN for obvious reasons,
  • the function set of the WP 34S (or a little bit more),
  • a sturdy, reliable keyboard with tactle feedback and durable keys (like the one of e.g. an HP-67, IIRC),
  • at least the display resolution of the HP-42S (primarily for allowing sofkeys),
  • six keys more than the HP-42S (for softkeys not overwriting regular functions),
  • a standard communication interface (like USB) or a standard medium for data exchange (like SD) with a PC (so I may use a PC for program editing if I want to),
  • a reasonable amount of user-accessible memory for data and programs,
  • flash memory for on-device backup, library storage, etc.,
  • a power consumption like a Voyager or a Pioneer,
  • all that within the size of a Pioneer and as properly packed.
At the bottom line, that's just a little bit more than an HP-41Cx, an HP-42S, or a WP 34S could offer (for different reasons). I don't see a pressing need for on-device graphics - that can be done better on a PC (based on calculator data if a standard format can be supported). Also you may note I didn't state any speed requirements - I simply presume sufficient speed for solving real world problems is for granted nowadays. No bells and whistles like color screens, stereo output, shiny surfaces, or backlighting Wink - just solid quality. Period.

Just my 20m€ based on 3.5 decades of professional work in science and various industries.

d:-)
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03-23-2014, 05:18 PM
Post: #7
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 04:03 PM)walter b Wrote:  Back to the original question: My personal dream calculator would be one featuring
  • RPN for obvious reasons,
  • the function set of the WP 34S (or a little bit more),
  • a sturdy, reliable keyboard with tactle feedback and durable keys (like the one of e.g. an HP-67, IIRC),
  • at least the display resolution of the HP-42S (primarily for allowing sofkeys),
  • six keys more than the HP-42S (for softkeys not overwriting regular functions),
  • a standard communication interface (like USB) or a standard medium for data exchange (like SD) with a PC (so I may use a PC for program editing if I want to),
  • a reasonable amount of user-accessible memory for data and programs,
  • flash memory for on-device backup, library storage, etc.,
  • a power consumption like a Voyager or a Pioneer,
  • all that within the size of a Pioneer and as properly packed.
At the bottom line, that's just a little bit more than an HP-41Cx, an HP-42S, or a WP 34S could offer (for different reasons). I don't see a pressing need for on-device graphics - that can be done better on a PC (based on calculator data if a standard format can be supported). Also you may note I didn't state any speed requirements - I simply presume sufficient speed for solving real world problems is for granted nowadays. No bells and whistles like color screens, stereo output, shiny surfaces, or backlighting Wink - just solid quality. Period.

Just my 20m€ based on 3.5 decades of professional work in science and various industries.

d:-)

More or less the same for me, plus a screen big enough to see 4/5 lines of stack, a standard programming language (possibly Lua), everything running on a modern low power MCU with maybe an integrated FPU and ADC as a perk.

Standard AAA batteries/rechargeables (through the USB port).

Support for CSV data would be nice. Also the capability to export the history of calculations.

I don't care if it is algebraic, but it has to be properly implemented (separated keys for both parentheses, STO/RCL and possibly unshifted Ans keys).
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03-23-2014, 05:24 PM
Post: #8
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 07:19 AM)colinh Wrote:  What would a scientist/engineer want in a calculator?

(03-23-2014 04:03 PM)walter b Wrote:  Sorry, Raimund, you may not been aware of the task being to name scientific/engineering calculators.

Did you even read the original post? If you want to split hairs: the WP-34S isn't a HP calculator.

Quote:I wonder in what aspects an HP-15C, -32S, or -32SII are better than a WP 34S.
Just talking about the HP-15C:
  • support of complex matrix arithmetic
  • decent complex mode (no need to hit [CPX] all the time)
  • only 2 shift keys instead of cluttered keyboard
The HP-32S has a nice display and the HP-17B a nice solver.

Quote:though I admit being slightly biased in that matter.
Everybody has his blind spot.

Cheers
Thomas
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03-23-2014, 05:46 PM
Post: #9
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
My favourite calculator is the HP-11C.
It has all I ever need. And nothing more.

But I'm neither engineer nor scientist.
Thomas
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03-23-2014, 06:02 PM (This post was last modified: 03-23-2014 06:10 PM by Raymond Del Tondo.)
Post: #10
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 04:03 PM)walter b Wrote:  Sorry, Raimund, you may not been aware of the task being to name scientific/engineering calculators.
Sorry Walthser, I was fully aware of the task, that's why the 17BII and 17BII+silver are in the list. On both calcs logs and Pi are available, and with some effort trigs can be implemented, as has been proven long time ago.

(03-23-2014 04:03 PM)walter b Wrote:  Looking at your (then reduced) list, I wonder in what aspects an HP-15C, -32S, or -32SII are better than a WP 34S. IMHO the latter runs circles around those oldies in all aspects, though I admit being slightly biased in that matter.
The older calcs (Voyagers and Pioneers) were made with the form-follows-function concept in mind, the 30b with its shiny surface and questionable edges was designed with "glossy design" as one of the highest priorities.
The 17BII+silver showed that non-glare surfaces and displays still can be made.

The "wp 34s" has many functions, some may say too many per key. But unfortunately, it has nearly no RAM.
Ok, the 15C and 32S/II also have some hundred bytes only, but the 17BII and 42S have 8K each, and the 17BII+silver has a whopping 32K.


About the dream RPN calc, your list would be ok for me, with some slight changes
  • RPN for obvious reasons,
  • the function set of the HP-42S,
  • a sturdy, reliable keyboard with tactle feedback and durable keys (like the one of e.g. an HP-41, HP-42, etc),
  • at least the display resolution of the HP-42S (primarily for allowing sofkeys),
  • six keys more than the HP-42S (for softkeys not overwriting regular functions),
  • a standard communication interface (like USB) or a standard medium for data exchange (like SD) with a PC (so I may use a PC for program editing if I want to),
  • a reasonable amount of user-accessible memory for data and programs,
  • flash memory for on-device backup, library storage, etc.,
  • a power consumption like a Voyager or a Pioneer,
  • all that within the size of a Pioneer and as properly packed.
The keys in the HP-67 need too much force to press, and have too much travel between movement end points. May make sense in the next rocket to moon, but not on earth.

An additional row of keys would be ok, but not really necessary (IMHO), as the 42S showed.

-- Ray
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03-23-2014, 06:16 PM
Post: #11
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 05:46 PM)Thomas Klemm Wrote:  My favourite calculator is the HP-11C.
It has all I ever need. And nothing more.

But I'm neither engineer nor scientist.
Thomas

I would have said the same thing for many years until I got a 32sii.

-katie

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03-23-2014, 07:06 PM (This post was last modified: 03-23-2014 07:23 PM by Voldemar.)
Post: #12
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
I think, HP 35s would be an ideal calculator. If...
1. It must be bugfree.
2. It would be with four or five line display (for entire stack).
3. There would be possible creat programm names with more than one character.
4. Matrix calculations (five line display).
5. There would be some keyboard layout improvements.
6. It would be with better hardwere quality.
7. It must be truly RPN calculator (no algebraic input mode).
For me (I am structural engineer) ideal calculator is RPN scientific programmable calculator (very good programming options). Ideal keyboard for me is when sin, cos, tg, x^2, y^x, square root, n-root, 1/x, log, ln, 10^x, e^x are not shifted. In addition x^3 and x^4 are not shifted, special for me :-).
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03-23-2014, 08:50 PM
Post: #13
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 04:03 PM)walter b Wrote:  Back to the original question: My personal dream calculator would be one featuring
  • RPN for obvious reasons,
  • the function set of the WP 34S (or a little bit more),
  • a sturdy, reliable keyboard with tactle feedback and durable keys (like the one of e.g. an HP-67, IIRC),
  • at least the display resolution of the HP-42S (primarily for allowing sofkeys),
  • six keys more than the HP-42S (for softkeys not overwriting regular functions),
  • a standard communication interface (like USB) or a standard medium for data exchange (like SD) with a PC (so I may use a PC for program editing if I want to),
  • a reasonable amount of user-accessible memory for data and programs,
  • flash memory for on-device backup, library storage, etc.,
  • a power consumption like a Voyager or a Pioneer,
  • all that within the size of a Pioneer and as properly packed.

I like this list, but I personally would like to see a backlit (or some other visible-in-the-dark technology) screen. I don't like graphing calculators but I use my Casio fx-9860GII all the time because of the excellent screen. I keep my office on the darker side and the LCD calculators can be hard to see. (I suppose a return to red LEDs is too much to hope for Wink
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03-23-2014, 09:32 PM (This post was last modified: 03-23-2014 09:41 PM by John R. Graham.)
Post: #14
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
When I was a teenager, my father had an HP 97 on his desk at the university, which had replaced his HP 9100. The 97 was the first one I used extensively, though, and was the first programmable computer I was exposed to. In my father's electronics shop were other Hewlett-Packard instruments: signal generators, counters, a grid dip meter, all packaged in HP's then-signature crinkle grey painted chassis. (My dad was partial to Tektronix osciliscopes, though.)

Now, both my father and I were avid science fiction readers and it must've been the late 70's when I read The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. In it, several of the characters—who were technical professionals or scientisis—carried "pocket computers". They were described incidental to the story in several places in the book:
  • He took out his pocket computer and wrote quickly with the attached stylus.
  • Suddenly he took out his pocket computer and scribbled madly across its face [JRG: A calculation of the pressure light would impose on a solar sail]. Words and numbers flowed across the surface, and he nodded...
  • He took out his pocket computer and scrawled "Church of Him" across its face, then punched for information. The box linked with the ship's library, and information began to roll across its face.
  • The three were not on leave; they could be recalled via their pocket computers.
  • ...Sally drew letters on the face of the flat box, wiped them, then scrawled a simple problem, then a complex one that would require the ship's computer to help. Then she called up an arbitrary personal data file from ship's memory.
As I read this story's description of that technology, I was siezed with an iron-clad conviction: Hewlett-Packard would one day build it—and I would own one.

Thirty-five years later, I still yearn for such a composite device: communicator, information portal, problem solving device that seamlessly integrates with more powerful resources when the problem calls for it. The modern tablet computer approximates the form factor and the web serves the information portal portion of Pournelle and Niven's vision, but I still find myself reaching for my 50g (or 41C) for quick calculations, quick programs, simple data collection tasks. Ironically, although all my calculators are RPN machines, I don't think this visionary machine is one: I think you write—write, mind you, not tap at an on-screen keyboard—calculations and equations, finishing off, perhaps, with some sort of completion gesture. (Or maybe there's an [Enter] key; one never knows.) An obvious part of this offering is a seamless development environment with problem solving tools that span the workstation and the handheld.

Alas, now that this device is (perhaps nearly) within technical reach, there doesn't seem to be enough money in professional instruments. It is with a bit of nostalgic sadness that I realize I'm no longer sure that Hewlett-Packard will build it. I'm sure someone will, though, one day.

- John
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03-23-2014, 10:01 PM
Post: #15
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
I want one with the 42s form factor and keyboard, just with a 3 line display instead of 2 (color and higher resolution optional), and the CAS system and functions of the 50g. I loved the 48gx, but the ability to take the determinant of a matrix with symbolic elements made me ditch the 48 for the 50, despite the tiny misplaced enter key.

Either a usb port, bluetooth, or sd card slot, any would be ok. IR printing also.

I like the uncluttered keyboard of the 42s, even though it took more presses using softkeys. Its probably not popular, but I would be ok moving trig functions to a menu to free up keys.
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03-23-2014, 10:30 PM
Post: #16
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 09:32 PM)John R. Graham Wrote:  ....
Alas, now that this device is (perhaps nearly) within technical reach, there doesn't seem to be enough money in professional instruments. It is with a bit of nostalgic sadness that I realize I'm no longer sure that Hewlett-Packard will build it. I'm sure someone will, though, one day.

For fun, have you read "THANK YOU, BEEP...!" by Gordon Dickson, (1977)?
http://10784107.42qu.com/15772916

I don't know. It sounds like the current smart phones and tablets are very close to what you were describing. I think there is at least one CAS App that allows you to write an equation on the screen and then uses OCR to interpret and solve it.
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03-23-2014, 10:37 PM (This post was last modified: 03-24-2014 12:43 AM by Mike T..)
Post: #17
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
I'm not an engineer but and prefer the simplicity of a keystroke programming model so something like these two... :-)
[Image: rpn3cpic.png] [Image: rpn3bpic.png]

Oops forgot the most interesting one..

[Image: rpn3dpic.png]

Mike T.

PS These aren't new you can find the source code here
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03-23-2014, 10:48 PM (This post was last modified: 03-23-2014 10:50 PM by Raymond Del Tondo.)
Post: #18
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 10:37 PM)Mike T. Wrote:  [Image: rpn3cpic.png]
Very interesting:-)
I'd prefer the primary key layout of the left pic (see above, with arith. keys on right side, and ordered /*-+)

-- Ray
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03-23-2014, 11:52 PM
Post: #19
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
(03-23-2014 10:37 PM)Mike T. Wrote:  I'm not an engineer but and prefer the simplicity of a keystroke programming model so something like these two... :-)
Mike T.

I don't know, Mike. That looks kind of similar to the HP 35s ....
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03-24-2014, 06:02 AM (This post was last modified: 03-24-2014 08:06 AM by colinh.)
Post: #20
RE: What would your ideal HP calc look like now?
I've ordered the WP 34S because such hacking deserves support :-)


This sort of thread appears to be quite common, as I just found this:

[Image: HP45S_Pioneer_V30.jpg]

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/...ead=126223

That seems to be pretty close to what people want (along with an SD slot, USB, BT, IR and an ADC/IO(*) interface :-) Possibly a higher res paper-white display. And of course a flashable µC with the source code, so that we can fix any silly implementation details (like having to add 'h' to numbers entered in HEX mode on the HP 35S).


Part of my question was "What exactly is it about programmable scientific calculators that people (ie. engineers and scientists) liked, that is missing from the current offerings? What is it that makes them preferable to a computer (or smart phone) in certain situations?"

A couple of points have emerged:

a) we like high quality keys and would be willing to pay a premium to get them.

b) a portable/pocket calculator should fit comfortably in a pocket! Ie. be very robust but slim and small. Thus a Pioneer (Voyager) type format.

c) graphing capability doesn't seem to be high on anyone's list.

d) expansion/interfacing capabilities are nice


And still, I'm wondering what people(**) use them for - ie. when/why they wouldn't use a computer. For myself, I don't actually need a calculator any more :-( Sometimes I add a few prices in my head to get the change ready in advance. All I really need is food, water and sleep. And I could get by without food for a while too :-(

Thanks for all the replies! :-)


(*) then it could do a bit of data-logging, logic-analyzer / DSO stuff too

(**) scientists & engineers. Others are sort-of people :-) Students are proto-people.
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