The Museum of HP Calculators

HP Forum Archive 07

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42S discontinuation
Message #1 Posted by Merv on 24 Nov 2001, 10:04 p.m.

Does anyone out there know why production of the 42S was stopped? It is a calculator with just the right amount of functionality and memory for the uses that my profession (surveying) requires. The 32S memory is too small, and the 48 is has far more functionality than is needed.

Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #2 Posted by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil) on 25 Nov 2001, 1:07 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Merv


A lot have been told about machines` production line and discontinuation. Some threads in here (past-due, mostly, that can be found here) will mention them. I remember some being the 48 as a replacement, not much units sold, no bidirectional IO facility so former 41`s users did not find it so compatible, among others.

Many, many of us in here will fully agree with you: the 42 is a great calculator, with functionality, memory and easy-of-use in the right measure. Last threads about HP internal policy will lead you through another view, tough. Try this and this links. They will give you some idea about production, final costs, support, etc.

I know it`s not much infor, but I believe it`s a starting point.


Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #3 Posted by Steve on 25 Nov 2001, 4:02 a.m.,
in response to message #2 by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil)

If we ALL ask IAIN MORRIS to restart the line, maybe we could convince him it was a bad idea to stop in the first place. He left his email down below, so I guess he won't mind people emailing him. In fact a friend of mine emailed him a couple times and he did reply on both occasions. His email is:

What do you say guys/gals

Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #4 Posted by Mark on 25 Nov 2001, 5:50 a.m.,
in response to message #3 by Steve

Many people bemoan the loss of the 42S, including me. It was the last (IMHO) of the great HP keystroke programmables. I know there is the 32SII, but I prefer the 42S. 48GX and 49G afficianados will disagree perhaps, since those calculators offer great power, capacity and flexibility. But sometimes, a simple shirt pocket calculator is required, that has more than just a handful of arithmetic functions.

I don't know what TI, Sharp or Casio offer in this area, but if your're in this discussion, you probably aren't interested anyway ;-)

Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #5 Posted by Steve on 25 Nov 2001, 6:27 a.m.,
in response to message #4 by Mark

If you are a land surveyor, you'll miss it even more. Because when you have to hold a clipboard and hold a heavy calc like the 48 or 49 on the edge of a steep hill then you really notice the difference. the 42s offers me great flexibility with it's menu system. the 48gx has alarger screen and all the data could be displayed at once, but still i prefer the 42s for fieldwork. I have two hp42s, a 48gx , a hpg and three 41cx. but none could match the 42s for me.

maybe everyone sending an emial to Mr Morris from HP might be considered Spaming :-) but if someone who could write a very convincing letter and all who are interested in the return of the 42s were to attach their names and addresses, maybe that could make a difference. I am sure we could muster at least 100 names in about two weeks time. Doesn't that make sense.

Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #6 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 25 Nov 2001, 10:40 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Steve

I also am a loyal 42S user and advocate, but I am pessimistic about a reintroduction (I would be more than happy to accept my error if I am wrong!)

As almost all electronic products today, the issues are not only about design capability (the 42 is already designed) and production (all Pioneers should have the same manufacturing process), but of sourcing and support.

Reintroducing a model means that HP has to:

1) Obtain many components from third parties like the display, CMOS RAM, etc. It is very possible these components are no longer in production since the design is from almost 15 years back.

2) If some components are not available (sourceable), HP must find adequate replacements (similar functions, cost and mechanical features), and MAKE DESIGN CHANGES TO ADAPT FOR SUCH. The recent HP12C story, and the HP41 / HP42 display windows, are examples of this; as the HP41 FullNut/HalfNut, etc also is. A new design must also be recertified by many agencies, a costly process.

3) Plan to have a certain number of replacement units for servicing warranties and replacement policies for many years, probably they need to purchase components and manufacture them in advance right now (up-front), since it will be even more difficult to repeat this process, say, in 2010.

4) Modify the firmware, at least to remove the known bugs such as the PERM and COMB bug. Otherwise, a clever lawyer may file a class action or something like that against HP (This was not usual in the golden 80s, but now...). On the other hand, a review of firmware will allow for new functions like bidirectional I/O, directory structure... The current ACO story suggests this will not happen. Also, any new software needs extensive testing.

5) Print enough manuals and advanced programming books, to meet uncertain demand for them.

6) Replan a printer solution (optionally), perhaps supporting standard IrDA.

7) Decide to relaunch a product with "fratricide" effects, since the renewed availability of the HP42 will deter some prospective buyers from other models or PDAs

8) Retrain sales and support persons, and reestablish procedures for call-centers, to deal with HP42 questions. Prepare uncertain demand forecasts for the next years.

9) Do many of these things again, including logistics, in many countries.

10) Make, distribute the units, sell them, collect the money...

11) After all, let us allow for them to have some earnings (it is supposed HP is not a not-for-profit organization).

I suppose the still available models allow for a little-more optimistic view, but I would be satisfied if HP ports (or allows for someone willing) the software to a current PDA, simplifying many of the problems associated with specialized hardware.

Oh, those tall keys...

Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #7 Posted by on 25 Nov 2001, 11:44 a.m.,
in response to message #6 by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina)

Oh yes, I'm starting dreaming about a new 42 production line...

Remember the poll I did several months ago ? results available on my site

This step I propose

1) to write a letter to Mr Morris, and post it on this site. 2) to let us vote for the best representative letter of our opinion 3) Ask Dave to mail it to Mr Morris on behalf fo the MoHPC museum

(And why not include my poll's results ?)


Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #8 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 25 Nov 2001, 2:51 p.m.,
in response to message #7 by

Any manufacturing today (most noticeably things related to electronics and software) have a very large NRE component (non-recurring expenses). If this can be linearized with a equation y=mx+b, where "x" are the units sold and "y" the cost of goods produced, there is a very large "b" and a very small "m", so you need a large volume sales to compensate for the initial investment. Put timing and financial components in scene and things get worse. That is why is very difficult to relaunch a product.

I think (again) that sourcing for old components, new regulations to comply with (all those certification marks in the back of products) and re-starting support again for a model are big issues nobody will take the risk to deal with except a very large price or volume is somehow guaranteed. I think someone mentioned here that HP may accept an order for HP42 if the units volume is in the 100k/200k range (U$S 10M / 20M of sales at 100 U$S/unit).

Would the 2001 market (not just us, HP calc friends) accept a machine such as the 42S, or would it prefer a PDA (Palm, WinCE, Linux, etc.) with a customizable calculator software? While there are many emulators there, and some are rather good, a true HP "virtual" calculator would be wonderful... And HP already OWNS the software (see the calculator app in the LX 100/200), so it is within reach for HP to port it to non-Saturn platforms.

Customization options for such software may allow for different functionality, country localization, student (non cheating) versions, user preferences.

If HP is not confortable with the idea of selling calculator software without hardware associated with it, we could say they are doing it half-way with the successive releases for the HP49...

Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #9 Posted by Nenad Vulic (Croatia) on 26 Nov 2001, 2:42 a.m.,
in response to message #8 by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina)

I apologize in advance if I have misunderstood something, but, as far as I know, the HP42s's were still produced in Indonesia during 2000 and they were discontinued in August 2000. Why it would be such a big issue for HP to start again this production if they stopped it a year ago (if they only want to)?

My (pragmatic) proposal would be that Mr. Glynn (if he supports this opinion) writes the letter and we others, who agree with it, add our signatures below it and send it to Mr. Morris (HP).

Re: 42S discontinuation
Message #10 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 27 Nov 2001, 6:19 a.m.,
in response to message #9 by Nenad Vulic (Croatia)

I am not sure, but I guess they were not using a "hamburger shop" production line, making one unit at a time when ordered. They should have stocked components many years ago, forecasting the number of units that will be needed for service exchange, making many units batches, and having them ready, waiting for the exchange events. My view is also compatible with the fact there were surplus offered here when service exchange ended. Only the serial number is "fresh".

I think (again) that component sourcing, agencies recertification, logistics for packaging, manuals, and future support are the issues; manufacturing is just a part of a far more complex process. And there should be a large volume forecast to justify all this. I would like it to be otherwise, but I am afraid it is not so.

Re: 42S - True emulator in the 48
Message #11 Posted by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil) on 25 Nov 2001, 4:06 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Merv


I believe a single, true emulator for the 42 that would run in the 48 would be better accepted from HP (not that it would satisfy us). I know they will not concern so much about it (business is business), but as we are trying to reactivate the production line (and Andrés, you are not being "pessimistic about a reintroduction", just accepting this decision is off our hands), why can`t we try having this emulator from them? I know ACO would be the birth place for this, but daring is not a crime, is it?

That`s my suggestion: if they cannot give us the 42 back, allow the 48 to emulate it. As closed to the 42 as possible.


Re: 42S - True emulator in the 48
Message #12 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 25 Nov 2001, 5:20 p.m.,
in response to message #11 by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil)


My "pessimistic" notes again :-)

a) How long will the 48/49 will be around before being discontinued? (even more pessimistic, how long will *HP* be around? No, don't let me go that far with my pessimism!)

(By the way, HP also discontinued the Capshare 920 Pocket Scanner, a product which lies close to the 42 in my ranking of good design and functionality)

b) While I have had not enough time to get them, I have heard there are good 41 emulators for the 48. It may be enough for me; but the form factor and sheer elegance of the 42 will be lost (granted, the same will happen with a PDA version).

c) For you people who learned the HP48, including machine language, etc. (for me, it is the only HP I have which I cannot use without pain), why don't develop such emulator here?

Best regards


Re: 42S - True emulator in the 48
Message #13 Posted by Raymond Hellstern on 25 Nov 2001, 6:25 p.m.,
in response to message #11 by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil)


could you drop me your email address? Thanks in advance,


42S - True emulator in the 48 / email request
Message #14 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez on 25 Nov 2001, 7:03 p.m.,
in response to message #13 by Raymond Hellstern

My email address appears in the header of my messages, however I have no problem stating it here:

Naaa... This is ridiculous !
Message #15 Posted by on 26 Nov 2001, 9:13 a.m.,
in response to message #11 by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil)

Well, I really appreciate your wish of resurrect the 42S, but, very honestly, why would you develop an emulator than runs on a far more powerful calculator ?

One of the reasons why we love the 42S so much is its portability and discression. Would you really appreciate to have a big large 48 that has (only) the power of a 42S ?

I'm not sure the 42S production will run one day. HP has to compete with TI and nowadays calcs are maths teachers that give step by step answers. Maybe not what we want, but this is how it is. I guess HP has already taken into consideration our old programming and figure crunching styles as they seem to have extended the 32SII production. Even if this is not satisfactory to us, it's already a good step beyond.

Of course, if Mr Morris still read us (even after some comments that were fortunately temepered by Glynn), we won't be grateful enough if he let the 42S production run for a while... But don't expect to sell for than a few hundreds of units !

However, HP could "invent" another RPN machine with some mega's ram and all the applications found in the 41 modules... with IR serial connection... Ok, i'm just dreaming !

Re: No! I prefer using the 48 rather than the 42
Message #16 Posted by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil) on 26 Nov 2001, 3:31 p.m.,
in response to message #15 by


Thibaut, you are completely right! Why underusing (urg!) the 48 as it has much, much power? I just suggested writing an emulator that would easy the use of the 48 for those wanting to use a 42. I mean: programming as if it has X, Y, Z, T and LASTx registers; adding a STO 00 as a step; entering complex numbers as two real and pressing a single key... stuffs like these, you know? My suggestion was based in this thread. Me? I still prefer using the 48, develop to the 48, storing programs in my computer based on the 48. The 42 is a nice, easy-to-use calculator, small to transport, I know. I own 41's, 42's, 15/16, 28, 48/49... and I use the 48 a lot! At their time, all of them were the best. They're still the best, but others came after them.

About a new, new calc. If you want to, read this post I wrote a few minutes ago.

Best regards.

Emulators for the 42s
Message #17 Posted by Luca de Alfaro on 26 Nov 2001, 6:57 p.m.,
in response to message #15 by

Well, I much prefer the 42s to the 48 simply because the 48 is so incredibly SLOW. I really cannot stand the fact that even choice-menus on the 48 are slow to navigate because the 48 responds slowly to the up/down keystrokes. I find it ok to wait a bit on the 11C, because you have to wait while the calculator is _computing_, but to wait to enter multiple choices, it is as if the "f" and "g" key worked with delay. Using the 48 truly irks me.

But aside from this: there's a wonderful RPN calculator called mathU for the Palm Pilot. I have it. They came out recently with a programmable version of it. I think this is what the future of RPN calculators will be like, and I actually like it. True, no keys any more, but total reconfigurability, low price ($30ish), huge memory (32000 steps!), and when you are done computing, it stores addresses, memos, appointments, plays chess, checks your email, and more!

A few nostalgics will look back, but overall we will be much better off.


Re: Emulators for the 42s
Message #18 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 27 Nov 2001, 6:22 a.m.,
in response to message #17 by Luca de Alfaro

I would like a MathUPro for WindowsCE (PocketPC)...

You broke my legs...
Message #19 Posted by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil) on 27 Nov 2001, 8:10 a.m.,
in response to message #17 by Luca de Alfaro

(I wrote this yesterday right after Luca's post, but my system falled down...)

... or I'm a sitting duck, or... (I know no more US expressions for the feeling of being lost in the dark...)

Is there any version of this written to other platforms (PC, Linux, Win CE...)? Ahn? Share with us...

And... Yes, the 48 is slow for building the display, mostly to decompile long programs and rolling the screen. Building menus is also a bitmapping operation, I agree. But running programs... humm! I don´t know. I have seen them (48's) getting to the result too fast. No machine language, no Sys RPL; user RPL, no more than ordinary instructions. When you use DOSUBS or DOLIST, speed is amazing!

Well, as I got used to run programs in the 41, the 42 used to fly, and the 48 flies even faster. At least for me. But the 49... I cannot understand that girl. The only command it executes realy faster than the 48 is ORDER. Even when running programs, the 49 is slower than the 48. I tried to figure it out, but my best shots for the cause were: bigger O.S., a lot more of XLIB's room to search for...


Not so "ridiculous"
Message #20 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 27 Nov 2001, 6:30 a.m.,
in response to message #15 by

I would prefer the HP41 /42 syntax to the 48, which keeps nagging to me all the time when I press any key. I am tired of "too few arguments" when I try to DROP with an already clear stack, I miss a NULL function which helps avoiding a mistake, I would like to have STO 00 syntax, and keystroke programability. I like x<>y instead of SWAP, and certainly prefer an X,Y,Z,T stack. I prefer TONE 5 syntax rather than 400 100 TONE, and prefer ISG that 1 10 FOR (at least, in a calculator). And I assume these are some of the issues, else there should be people asking for a pocketable version of the 48, and I haven't seen anyone with that position yet.

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