The Museum of HP Calculators

Calculator Comparison

Features in optional ROMs are listed as Option.
Features in HP mag card or tape Application Pacs are listed as +.
Other software is not included.

Display and Keyboard HP-12C HP-17B
Display type LCD LCD
Display format 1 Line 2 Line
FIXed number format Yes Yes
SCIentific number format Yes* -
ENGineering number format - -
STanDard / ALL number format - Yes
Alpha messages and prompts - Yes
Softkeys labeled by mag. card or overlay - -
Softkeys labeled by display menus - Yes
Softkeys with neither labeling system - -
Status annunciators Yes Yes
Redefinable keyboard - -
     
Logic HP-12C HP-17B
Logic system RPN Algebraic
Stack levels 4 4
Last x Yes Yes*
Undo - -
Precedence - -*
Parentheses - Yes
Storage Addition (STO +) Yes Yes
Storage Arithmetic (STO +, -, ×, ÷) Yes Yes
Storage Exponentiation (STO ^) - Yes
Recall Arithmetic - -
Named variables - -
Multiple data types - -
Directories - -
     
Math HP-12C HP-17B
+, -, ×, ÷ Yes  Yes 
1/x Yes Yes
sq. root Yes Yes
x2 - Yes
LOG x - Yes
10x - Yes
LN x Yes Yes
ex Yes Yes
yx Yes Yes
pi - Yes
% Yes Yes
% change Yes Yes
INTeger truncation and ABSolute value INT only -
Trigonometric functions (SIN, COS etc.) - -
Hyperbolic trig. (SINH, COSH etc.) - -
# of trig. modes (degrees, radians, grads) - -
     
Advanced Math HP-12C HP-17B
Solver / root finder - Yes
Numeric integration - -
Complex numbers - -
Matrix operations - -
Matrix writer - -
Equation writer - -
Symbolic operations - -
Fractions - -
Plotting and graphics (display) - -
Plotting and graphics (printer / plotter) - -
     
Statistical HP-12C HP-17B
Mean, standard deviation (# of variables) 2 1
Summation of n, x, x2 Yes Yes
Summation of n, x, x2, y Yes Yes
Summation of n, x, x2, y, xy Yes Yes
Summation of n, x, x2, y, y2, xy Yes Yes
Summation of lists - Yes
Random number generator - -
Linear regression, estimate  Yes Yes
Curve fitting - Yes
Correlation coefficient Yes Yes
Normal distribution - -
Factorial Yes Yes
Gamma - -
Combinations and permutations - -
     
Scientific and Time

HP-12C

HP-17B

Polar / rectangular conversions - -
Base conversions (2, 8, 10, 16) - -
Arithmetic in bases 2, 8 and 16 - -
Bit operations (AND, OR, XOR, ...) - -
Selectable word size (1-64 bits) - -
Selectable complement mode (1's, 2's, unsigned) - -
Decimal hrs / hrs.min.sec. conversions - -
Hrs.min.sec arithmetic - -
Time of day clock - Yes
Timer - -
Dynamic calculations (timer × rate) - -
Alarms - Yes
     
Unit Conversions

HP-12C

HP-17B

Centimeters / inches - -
Millimeters / inches - -
Meters / feet - -
Kilograms / pounds (mass) - -
Newtons / pounds (force) - -
British thermal units / joules - -
Liters / gallons - -
° Celsius / ° Fahrenheit - -
Other - -
User-defined units - -
     
Time Value of Money HP-12C HP-17B
Number of payments (n) Yes Yes
Interest rate (i) Yes Yes
Present Value (PV) Yes Yes
Payment (PMT) Yes Yes
Future Value (FV) Yes Yes
     
Cash Flow Analysis HP-12C HP-17B
Net present value (NPV) Yes Yes
Internal rate of return (IRR) Yes Yes
     
Amortization HP-12C HP-17B
Accumulated Interest (ACC INT) Yes Yes
Balance (BAL) Yes Yes
     
Depreciation HP-12C HP-17B
Straight line (SL) Yes Yes
Sum of the years digits (SOYD) Yes Yes
Declining balance (DB) Yes Yes
     
Bonds and calendar functions HP-12C HP-17B
Bond price Yes Yes
Bond yield Yes Yes
Date arithmetic / calendar functions Yes Yes
     
Memory and Programming HP-12C HP-17B
Programming language(s) RPN -
RAM / Max # of variables or addressable registers 20 6.7K bytes /
10 registers
Max # of program steps 99 -
RAM / Max vars or regs with full optional RAM - -
Max # of prog steps with full optional RAM - -
Merged program steps 

Yes

-

Manual register / program memory allocation  - -
Automatic register / program memory allocation

Yes

-

Overlapped register and program memory - -
Continuous memory

Yes

Yes

Flags - -
Conditional tests 2 -
Subroutine levels - -
Indexed looping (increment by +/- 1, end at 0) - -
Indexed looping (choice of increment and end) - -
Multiple index / loop registers - -
Line number addressing Yes -
Branching by relative line number - -
Global program label addressing - -
Local program label addressing - -
Indirect / computed addressing and control - -
Multiple indirection registers - -
Pause Yes -
Alpha messages and prompts in programs - -
Alpha program listings - -
Alpha string manipulation - -
Program step insert / delete - -
     
I/O and Expansion Features HP-12C HP-17B
ROM modules - -
RAM modules or expansion option - -
General expansion slots / connector - -
Magnetic card reader/writer - -
Tape drive - -
Disk drive - -
Upgradeable firmware - -
Optical wand - -
Serial port - -
Infrared input - -
Infrared output - Yes
Printer - Option
Networking - -
Other - -
     
General HP-12C HP-17B
Sounds - Yes
Self test Yes Yes
Hard case (in addition to soft case) - -
Additional Features - -
Batteries 3 SR44 3 SR 44
Length (inches) 5.1" 5.85"
Width 3.1" 3.15"
Height 0.6" 0.6"
Weight (oz or lbs) 4 oz 5 oz
Year of introduction 1981 1988

Features in optional ROMs are listed as Option.
Features in HP mag card or tape Application Pacs are listed as +.
Other software is not included.

Unlim means limited only by available memory.

HP-12C notes:
  • FIXed mode set by "f #". SCIentific mode set by "f ." with no choice of the number of digits.
  • Self test: with the calculator off, hold the × key and press ON. The calculator will display running for around half a minute and then activate the entire display to indicate success. The test my be done continuously by pressing + while holding the ON key. To stop the continuous test at the end of the current iteration, press and hold - and then press ON.
  • There is also a keyboard test. With the calculator off, press and hold ÷ and press ON. Now press each key from the top left moving left to right and then down (the enter key gets pressed in both the third and fourth rows.) If all keys are pressed in the correct order and are working, the model number (without the C) is displayed. Otherwise, Error 9 is displayed. (The display will show a changing pattern of segments as keys are pressed.)
HP-17B notes:
  • Had functions for getting sum xy etc. based on the summation list.
  • LAST extracted number from history stack to the calculator line.
  • The calculator didn't have precedence but the solver did.
  • To start the self test, with the calculator on, press and hold the fourth menu key from the left and press the ON/CLR key. Pressing the + key will step through a series of tests (including printing a copyright) until you see KBD 01. Then you must press each key from the upper left from left to right and then down until you see KBD OK. Pressing + again displays OK-17B-E. If there is a problem, you will see a FAIL message. To exit the test, at any point, press and hold the third menu key and then press the ON/C key. Instead of stepping through the general tests, you can start some specific self tests after pressing LOG+ON/EXIT by pressing
    • 1st Menu key: SPD
    • 2nd menu key: Beep
    • 3rd menu key: DISP
    • 4th menu key: ROM
    • 5th menu key: DRAM
    • 6th menu key: URAM
    • RCL: ESD (electro-static discharge test?)
    • STO: KBD
    • %: Displays the OK message
  • A continuous test (minus the keyboard test) can be started by holding 1/x and pressing ON/C. Exit this test in the same way as the individual test.

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