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Is the Prime suitable, for me
03-24-2014, 07:01 PM
Post: #1
Is the Prime suitable, for me
I heard about the Prime last night and got up before 4:00 this morning to research further.

I've been using PC's and Servers for years, but miss the clarity and ease of use of my old HP41 CX (with PPC ROM).

My research this morning suggested that maybe the Prime can't be programmed using a stack based language.

If anybody has the time I'd appreciate comments on the suitability of Prime, or something else for my situation:

  1. I'd like to transcribe some existing HP41 code and use it again.
  2. I'd like to inter-operate with a PC (USB is OK, though a bidirectional WiFi link would be appreciated). I'd like the opportunity to code on a PC, potentially generate code from programs...
  3. I find RPN style equation representation, APL / J matrix style and functional, are more productive and satisfying than the bracketed, arbitrary precedence... ways of writing equations.
  4. **


My research this morning suggests that I may be out of luck with a way to program in a stack oriented way (RPN). I may also have to accept USB and drop the WiFi idea. BUT, I hope, I'm missing something

Thanks.
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03-24-2014, 11:06 PM
Post: #2
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
(03-24-2014 07:01 PM)Mike Gale Wrote:  I heard about the Prime last night and got up before 4:00 this morning to research further.

I've been using PC's and Servers for years, but miss the clarity and ease of use of my old HP41 CX (with PPC ROM).

My research this morning suggested that maybe the Prime can't be programmed using a stack based language.

If anybody has the time I'd appreciate comments on the suitability of Prime, or something else for my situation:

  1. I'd like to transcribe some existing HP41 code and use it again.
  2. I'd like to inter-operate with a PC (USB is OK, though a bidirectional WiFi link would be appreciated). I'd like the opportunity to code on a PC, potentially generate code from programs...
  3. I find RPN style equation representation, APL / J matrix style and functional, are more productive and satisfying than the bracketed, arbitrary precedence... ways of writing equations.
  4. **


My research this morning suggests that I may be out of luck with a way to program in a stack oriented way (RPN). I may also have to accept USB and drop the WiFi idea. BUT, I hope, I'm missing something

Thanks.

For sure I'm not the most qualified to address your question, as others here will enlighten you way better than me. That said, here is what an old RPN guy like me can tell you:

1. Many of us are old enough to remember when computers took a full room of flip-flop transistors placed on nice small pcb's side by side in large cabinets. In those days, learning machine code/assembly language was the norm. I did that route myself.
Then HP came out with these RPN calculators in the 70's, for many of us that was the "cool" and efficient way of doing calculus - RPN is very close to what we do at machine level coding after all.
I work with computers since the 70's, and when I look back, this RPN entry mode is now a kind of nostalgic window to the past.
I still have a few of these HP calculators from that era in my collection, but for real day to day usage, I use algebraic/textbook calculators.
RPN with 4 registers is something that my brain can cope with, but after so many years playing with computer software, algebraic notation makes more sense to me now, allowing for so more complex calculus, equation systems, graphs, big displays for easy reading, specially if one enjoy a little bit of symbolic algebra.

2. As far as I was told, the HP-42S was the successor to the HP-41, but it seems the prices are very high as the 42S is out of production long years ago, and is more like an collector item these days. Also it doesn't interface with a PC, so it seems very limited in I/O capabilities.
So, the current HP-50G seems to be the best answer to your requirements.

3. Or, if you accept to not use RPN, you can use your HP-41 algorithms and rewrite the code in HP-PPL for real fun!
And of course the HP-Prime will fill many of your requirements as well, and a few more if you start exploring the so many new features available in it.

Let's see what others can tell here.

Jose Mesquita
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03-25-2014, 06:38 AM
Post: #3
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
Hello,

Quote:I heard about the Prime last night and got up before 4:00 this morning to research further.
Dedication!!!!

Quote:I've been using PC's and Servers for years, but miss the clarity and ease of use of my old HP41 CX (with PPC ROM).
Clarity is, in lots of ways in the eye of the beholder... and ie heavely based on past history. RPN is not clear for younglings :-) (unfortunately)...

Quote:My research this morning suggested that maybe the Prime can't be programmed using a stack based language.
We are now entering the meat of your questions.
You are correct, the Prime programming language (PPL) is Pascal/C like, not Forth based. So there is no stack programming there.

Quote:I'd like to transcribe some existing HP41 code and use it again.
Since both are turing complete languages, you can transcribe them. However, they will be totally different from a source code standpoint.

Quote:'d like to inter-operate with a PC (USB is OK, though a bidirectional WiFi link would be appreciated). I'd like the opportunity to code on a PC, potentially generate code from programs...
that you can

Quote:I find RPN style equation representation, APL / J matrix style and functional, are more productive and satisfying than the bracketed, arbitrary precedence... ways of writing equations.
Sorry. I can not help you there...

Cyrille
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03-25-2014, 11:32 AM
Post: #4
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
How about an iPod Touch or iPad Mini running Byron Foster's 42s? It's basically a 42s with a preposterous amount of memory and speed. Any non-synthetic 41C programs should be super easy to translate.

Plus, you'd end up with all the loads of other things you can do with such a device.
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03-25-2014, 12:11 PM
Post: #5
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
Prime is not suitable but you shall consider a 34s as a very valid alternative.
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03-25-2014, 12:56 PM
Post: #6
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
Hello.

Hope all are well.

Here's the opinion of a guy that started out with an HP-15C, then to an HP 48-GX, next was a HP 50g, and finally, the HP Prime. That means I have more than twenty-five-years using HP calculators.

I hate the HP Prime. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT. It programs in sort of a C-based language. It operates in two entry-modes RPN and Textbook. It does not do much in RPN mode, even tihough all of its fancy or not-so-fancy capabilities like factorial are easily(comparitively-so) in its CAS(basically textbook though this stands for Computer Algebra System), but horrible under RPN mode.

RPN can only readily be used for number crunching and using commands that appear on the calculator keys and face, like x^2, Log, Tan, and so forth.

I agree with you, RPN is just plain BETTER. HP's Prime, to me, is like this, "You read a book you believe to be awesome. Hollywood then likes this book enough to make it into a movie. You go to the movie and soon discover it is complete and utter GARBAGE!"

The HP50g is now CHEAPER because the HP Prime is now on sale.

I love my HP 50g. If you have used a HP 48GX, then the 50g is like a 48 GX on steroids with, WITH a gargantuan grey-matter grower and a genetic enhancement that makes the processes eight-times faster. Yes, the 50g is that good, and it have a clear piece of plastic over the display(I broke my 48GX display and it was 3/4 cost of a new one and HP sent me the wrong calculator in the box, even though the contents were saying it was the right calculator. Translation, some scum at HP switched them...he killed Kenny(reference from TV show, "South Park"). Sorry for rambling.

To prove to yourself which is better, you will need a computer. Download the programs that simulate each of the calculators and use them as long as you wish.
If you have a wonder phone(I don't, to distracting and expensive) there should be programs to emulate the two calculators that you can put on the phone you take with you everywhere. The programs are FREE, at least the emulators from hpcalc.org and a few other sites. Then, use as long as you want, even 100-years.

If you find you like one enough to buy, then get it after thorough testing.

Oh, one good thing about the emulators for both calculators, they run at a processor-speed that is the same as your computer, which as a general rule is faster than an HP Calculator, even fast than the 400 MHz processor that is in the HP Prime.

Hope you got this before buying a calculator.

Enjoy the day,
1HPGuy
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03-28-2014, 10:27 AM
Post: #7
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
(03-25-2014 12:56 PM)1HPGuy Wrote:  RPN [on the HP Prime] can only readily be used for number crunching and using commands that appear on the calculator keys and face, like x^2, Log, Tan, and so forth.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that's true. As far as I know, whatever you can do in Home in either Textbook entry mode or in Algebraic entry mode, you can also do in RPN entry mode. Yes, there were bugs in the original release that caused RPN to choke on some things, especially the Spreadsheet app... but those bugs are gone now. If you know of any specific operations that can be done in Home's other entry modes, which cannot be done in RPN entry mode, please post them.

It has been objected that performing symbolic math (e.g. algebraic manipulations, solving equations, etc) is more complicated in RPN mode than in the Textbook or Algebraic modes. Well, there's an obvious reason for that: Algebraic mode is optimized for algebraic work. If you want to do algebraic work, use the optimal tool for the job. On the other hand, when crunching numbers is what you need to do, I agree that RPN is the best tool for the job. Prime's RPN does that job just fine.

Of course, if your objection is that it takes extra keystrokes to perform functions that are not directly on the keyboard... well, that's true of every calculator, no?

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03-28-2014, 05:16 PM (This post was last modified: 03-28-2014 05:29 PM by jebem.)
Post: #8
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
(03-25-2014 12:11 PM)Tugdual Wrote:  Prime is not suitable but you shall consider a 34s as a very valid alternative.

That seems to be a good alternative as well, considering that the WP-34S includes the HP-42S features and a few more.

I use software simulators/emulators when needed, but to really evaluate a calculator it is better to have the real thing on your hands.
So, I have just ordered one HP-30B and all the other components to build one WP-34S myself, as I do not want to miss this opportunity to feel the behavior of this open source RPN calculator.

That said, I totally agree with Joe Horn observations on his post above:
The HP-Prime is already a fantastic calculator, modern look and build, full of advanced features INCLUDING RPN as well, and the HP-PPL PASCAL like structured HIGH-LEVEL programming language is MUCH easier to learn, to document and to use, than any kind of RPL. RPL has his own merits, sure, but it is a nightmare to use and document when compared with ANY modern high level programming language.

This is 2014, not 1970.
As much as I love HP classic calculators, the world didn't stop when the man landed in the moon.

Love to everybody. And do not hate anything or anybody, that is not good to your health.

All the best.

Jose Mesquita
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03-29-2014, 05:07 AM
Post: #9
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
Thanks to all who replied.

This is a truly amazing place to be. Intelligent useful conversation.

I didn't realise how much I missed an HP calculator till I took that look 4 days ago.

My take away from this:

  1. The Prime is not right for me. After my first /fifteen or twenty minutes with RPN (many, many years ago, probably on a 21 or maybe a 35) I realised that it was just so right. It kinda clicked with how my brain works, cutting out all the clutter imposed by traditional syntax. (So I don't understand people who think RPN is hard, I find it easier!) The Prime can't be programmed that way, which just rules it out, out, OUT.
  2. I had noticed the 50g which looks truly impressive. The graphing and the language which takes code as arguments are things I'd put into my own design (if I were to go that way). Need to try the language, but it looks good to me. (Even though I haven't seen one yet I even started dreaming of a language I'd like it to have...)
  3. I wasn't aware of the 34S, so thanks for all who mentioned that.
  4. On smart phones. I used and loved the 21, the 29C and various 41's. I never had empathy with carrying a phone and still don't. In fact, I had expected to see the average Joe carrying around a great calculator, descended from the RPN line, by now. Instead I see huge uptake of these reputedly-smart phones. Disappointed in the course of history to put it mildly!
  5. I think that by excluding a great programming system from the Prime, some people have been deprived of thought enhancement, condemned to a lesser life, a bad move.
  6. I'll check out the emulators, and will explore 34 and 50g further.
  7. My main concern then is whether a new machine is in the works. Say along the line of the 50g just more so.
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03-29-2014, 09:55 AM
Post: #10
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
(03-29-2014 05:07 AM)Mike Gale Wrote:  [*]The Prime is not right for me. After my first /fifteen or twenty minutes with RPN (many, many years ago, probably on a 21 or maybe a 35) I realised that it was just so right. It kinda clicked with how my brain works, cutting out all the clutter imposed by traditional syntax. (So I don't understand people who think RPN is hard, I find it easier!) The Prime can't be programmed that way, which just rules it out, out, OUT.

Hi, Mike!
True, the Prime programming is done with a simple, basic, but high level structured PASCAL like programming language - very efficient, and I would say, up to the modern standards of today languages.
As I see it, one can choose between RPN or Algebraic input formats, or HP-RPL and HP-PPL programming languages, depending on the task one has to do.
I would not exclude one in favor of the other, as no tool is good for all the tasks.

Please have a look in this thread, post #9 from Didier Lachieze, where we can compare two different ways to reach the same solution for a problem, depending on one's preference. Me? in this case I would use the HP-Prime.
http://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-991.html

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03-30-2014, 09:34 PM (This post was last modified: 03-30-2014 10:06 PM by Mike Gale.)
Post: #11
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
In a better world I'd have different languages available to me. All of them able to access work done in the others (provided they can use it).

In that situation myPrime would be codable in original RPN, in RPL etc. and use remote procedure calls to my Network or the InterWebs where I choose.

For my own work I can then fluidly move from language to language, should I want that.

Background 1.

I have designed significant chunks of a chemical plant on a 41. The work was based on a technically detailed report, so documentation was excellent, and using the 41 was just so quick, and so solid. It was literally sit down, code for a few hours and it's done. (At the time going through the "DP" department would have taken months of bureaucracy and had a risk of utterly useless coding.)

Background 2.

I remember years ago coding for web pages. The browser designers were still adventurous, effective and creative. I coded test web pages with a mix of VBScript, JScript and Perl. All the code inter-operated, each language could do what it was good at. (I even had people trying to persuade me to bolt in other languages. I never did that, considered it beyond my reach, but in truth it wasn't hard.) (Now of course we've gone firmly into reverse on that axis. JavaScript may be very good at heart (it is the Self language hurriedly recast into a curly braces syntax, after all) but it's become a monoculture and only one language stifles thought and reduces the human experience.)

Background 3.

I've used the .NET execution environment. In there I can mix languages, say VB.NET, C#, JScript.NET, F# and maybe some Python. That is a powerful freedom to have and, if you've ever used it, illustrates the joy of language freedom. If I could add RPN, RPL... to that...

The real world, unfortunately, is not that multi-lingual. I might love the thought of features in Prime, but the designers of Prime have chosen to force me to choose. (I might love Pascal (I do), but I really want an RPN style capability (in programming) so...) One thing that really disturbs me about this is that young minds are being systematically stifled by such decisions. That's a mental poison that will impact the future of mankind.
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03-30-2014, 10:21 PM (This post was last modified: 03-30-2014 10:29 PM by jebem.)
Post: #12
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
You have you answer since post #2.

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03-30-2014, 11:58 PM
Post: #13
RE: Is the Prime suitable, for me
I also wish that RPL retained some of the unstructured conventions of RPN keystroke programming (I majored in CS, so I love having high-level flow control blocks, but sometimes a quick GOTO would be so handy for a simple program.) That 48SX text editor is just so damn slow with large programs, though. Splitting them into small, possibly reusable routines is a must sometimes. The 48 does give you the choice of creating RPL programs or algebraic user-defined functions, which is nice. Keep a tiny Moleskine notebook in your 48's case to document programs; RPL has no way to insert comments, and with no label names to assist you, the code becomes very opaque very quickly. At least you can use long variable names if you're willing to sacrifice a few more bytes of program size.

Have you ever considered the HP palmtops? You can load your favorite DOS-based IDEs and compilers onto a CF card (I have QuickBASIC 4.5 and Borland Turbo C on my 200LX), then also have a hybrid functional/imperative environment with built-in Lotus 1-2-3 and its macros, and a simple functional/equation based system with the included HP Calc solver app (it's basically a 19BII). You won't really get much interop between programming environments, though. Maybe a little bit between Turbo C and Turbo Pascal if you're feeling adventurous and are willing to wrangle the calling conventions. If there were a good DOS version of Free42, that would be really awesome. You can make nice user-friendly data entry and analysis tools with Lotus if you're willing to learn the macro language, which is very much like a calculator's keystroke programming. I've yet to see a better mobile spreadsheet even 20+ years on.

Other totally random ideas:

The TI-74 BASICalc has a Pascal module available, giving you two languages to choose from. Only 8 KB RAM built in, though.

If you search for "pocket computer" on ebay, you'll find many Japanese handhelds with various combinations of BASIC, CASL (whatever that is), C, and assembler. I've never used one, and I imagine the Japanese documentation would be a little daunting, but I'm always tempted to get one to experiment with. Maybe some day.

I still think an iOS device with an assortment of calculators and development environments can prove extremely useful, even though you won't get any interop. Don't underestimate an iPad Mini loaded with Codea and emulators/simulators for an HP 41, HP 42S, TI-59, TI-95, etc. Plus it can do a hell of a lot of other things, too.

You could also find an old Palm OS device such as the IIIxe or m500 and load it with Free42 and Pocket C. Finding one with a digitizer that isn't knackered can be tough at times, though.

The old non-touchscreen Sharp Wizards have a "Scientific Computer" card that gives you BASIC and 32 KB RAM. I think there's a three-dimensional spreadsheet card as well. I'm sure it's no Lotus 1-2-3, of course.

The TI-92/89 family has a very nice programming environment. It's the usual TI BASIC, but with quite a bit more capability than other TI models. You can create programs, or functions which can return values (but can't side-effect). Of these, the 92+ or Voyage 200 would be the better option, as the OS was really designed around having a QWERTY keyboard constantly available.
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