Nostalgic HP34C Story Message #1 Posted by Norm Hill on 11 Mar 2003, 4:59 a.m.
Probably belongs on the 'stories forum' but I'll
put it here so the Texas Math Teacher spots it:
Before my story, yeah, I'm that advocate of HP34C.
It has the best cosmetics of all the units and
the red LED display is crisper and more intriguing
than the bland LCD's. It had a very rare quality...
you could actually learn ALL of its functions
and feel that you had mastered something at the end.
This is not the case with 48G+ or even 41C. You
never get to the bottom of it. With HP34C you do.
I like that a lot about anything..... a toaster,
a TV set, a stereo. I don't want to keep learning
about it forever. Yes, 34C drained batteries too fast.
***************** STORY ***************
I always will have the finest memory in high school
mathematics class (I was in the 'advanced' calculus
program). The time was 1980.
At the time, the HP Calculators were around, but
very expensive. Schools would encourage you to
purchase a TI30 for trig and calculus. People knew
about the HP but refrained ("ugh, for Einsten, and
there's no eeekwulz button).
I was interested in the superior unit and had earned
the money and bought one. I had been told how RPN
would make the calculator work better than a TI30
and I had mastered the 34C and really liked it.
It was a fine fine complement to going thru teenager
trig and calculus classes. (later I used it thru college).
The high school math teacher was skeptical.
That was "Mr. Hilton" out near Lynnwood, WA.
He preferred the 'one with the eekwulz button'.
He was probably intimidated that I had
bought this extremely expensive HP calculator
that he couldn't afford on teacher's pay and would not know how to use. (HP calc cost a LOT of income at the time).
And some of the students had noticed it and were
wondering just what I was up to; was it worthwhile.
The TI30 the schools & teachers recommended is
pretty much useless for doing anything
more complex than 2+2=4 . If you think about it,
a calculator is for things more complicated than
what an 8 year old can do in his head.
RPN supports that complexity. An 'eeekwulz' button does not.
AND SO, we were going thru the calculus class one day
and dealing with a problem. We had actual numbers
to plug into a big formula, the teacher wanted to get
a numerical answer.
EXACTLY the situation for which RPN existed.
So, we've set the stage for something humorous.
....................
The teacher pulled out his "Texas Instruments"
pile of crap, the one with the eekwulz button.
He started pushing buttons, trying to use the
memory (this plus this, eekwulz, I'll store this.....
EQUALS, OOPS, got to start over, EQUALS, mumble mumble,
store this, DARN, rats) yeah, he was carrying on like that
because the formula was kind of complicated.
Like a relaxed sharpshooter, I reached down to
the bookpile on the floor at my high school desk........
I pulled up the HP34C (in its fancy furpadded pouch).
I removed it from the pouch. I began typing the formula,
ONE TIME ONLY, without hurrying,
and in seconds I had the answer.
The teacher was still mumbling and saying
'eekwulz, recall that, eekwulz, store this, eekwulz, OOPS',
and then, I stated the answer to him.
He simply put away his TI30 calculator and wrote the
answer on the board.
He said 'Norm has one of those expensive HP
calculators. It uses a system called RPN which is
supposed to make it more practical to use on
difficult formulas like this. I don't know if
its true...... well...... maybe it is".
"We'll just trust him on this answer".

Savored the moment to this day.
