The Museum of HP Calculators
The calculator that wouldn't die. The HP-12C is HP's longest and best selling
calculator. Though it has been followed by many newer models, with both more
and less features this model continues to sell well. In fact an EduCALC catalog
says of the HP 17BII (in bold type): "It's 15 times faster than the HP 12C,
and displays more than 4 times as much information." And of the HP 19BII:
"It's 15 times faster than the HP 12C, and displays more than 9 times as
much information." In addition, both newer calculators can print via infrared
to compact printers, have more memory, general purpose solvers, menus etc.
Why does it continue to sell so well? Here are a few theories:
It's a pure RPN calculator with no algebraic options
to confuse the buyer or user. The HP-17B and 19B were algebraic calculators
that were rather quickly replaced by BII versions with optional RPN.
Business buyers are somewhat conservative. (Old business models out-selling
new ones is not entirely unique to the HP-12C.)
The average business buyer, is perhaps, less inclined to read the spec sheets
and more inclined to buy based on word of mouth.
It's good (and expensive) looking.
Like all 10C series calculators, it has a nice solid built-like-a-brick feel
that clamshell models can't quite match.
It has become part of the well-dressed business uniform - easily distinguished
from cheap calculators due to its layout.
Perhaps it really does provide just the right functions in the right form
factor at the right price.
While low in product number, the HP-12C was high (for its time) in functionality
making it a good replacement for the previous high end business model, the
HP-38C. In addition, the HP-12C offers:
Odd period calculations (allowing interest to accrue for some arbitrary amount
of time before the first payment.)
Improved action of SST and BST features.
A much larger manual with useful chapters on real estate, lending, investing,
leasing, savings and bonds.
And like all 10C series models, it has the advantage of running for months
to years instead of hours on a set of batteries. (The record so far is 22
years on the original set of batteries and that sample is still running!)
Tough construction: One HP-12C was used by a zoo keeper to calculate feed
mixtures. The zoo keeper dropped the calculator and it was consumed by a
hippopotamus. The calculator survived the hippo's digestive process as well
as the washing that followed.
Picture of HP-12C (~67K)
Price at introduction: $150
Current Retail price: $83
Introduced: 1981 and still in production.
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