|Re: I've missed HPs heyday... (long)|
Message #4 Posted by Patrick on 23 Mar 2003, 5:26 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Jeremy
Hey Jeremy it is great fun to read your messages. No need to apologize for length, ASAIC.
In the early 70's in high school I bought a fairly cheap plastic "Sterling Slide Rule". That was followed by a lovely metal precision version from Pickett, Model N902-ES - Simplex Trig. I have both slide rules still today. I even have a little warranty certificate from Pickett which starts with
"Congratulations on your selection of a Pickett All-Metal Slide Rule. It is yours for a lifetime; a constantly accurate and dependable aid to your progress."
I may end up having it for my lifetime, but I'm not sure the constant accuracy is going to mean much to me.
I finally convinced my Dad to buy me an electronic caculator. My better-off friends had just gotten SR-50's at about $250 (Canadian - which was pretty close to par with the US dollar back then, I believe). I couldn't believe that you could just push a button and get the value of tangent of an angle! All those heavy and cumbersome math tables could now be chucked! Well, not quite. Unfortunately, I still had to live with tables of the transcendental functions for a bit longer. The SR-50 was too much money for my family so I got an SR-10 for $99.95, serial number 1218454. All it had was the basic four functions, a memory, and square root, but I absolutely loved it and read everything I could about it. The manual was great. It even told you how to compute rough values for logarithms by a process involving (I think) 11 repeated square roots!
I was a calculator (and general gadget) fanatic and I looked for every new development and tried to get every calculator brochure I could get my hands on. I liked the HP machines very much. When I think back to those days, though, it wasn't so much the quality of the machines or the RPN that hooked me, it was the advanced functions. HP was definitely technologically way ahead in those early days. I was soon brainwashed with the RPN spiel, though, and I was telling all my friends how wonderful it was, not having ever used it. It was like being in a clique of people who knew The One True Way. It was great stuff for an up-and-coming geek.
As an undergrad I finally saved enough money and bought myself an HP-25. There was no 25C in those days. I think I spent $249.95 Canadian on it, plus tax. I absolutely devoured this little machine that I dubbed "Hewey". I wrote oodles of programs, many of them games, and honed my skills at tricks and techniques to write amazingly efficient code to fit within its very limited program memory.
In grad school, I was living in an apartment with four other guys, all undergrads, one of whom was from a fairly wealthy background. He bought a HP-41C and, as soon as I saw it, I was hooked. These were the heady days of synthetic programming investigation. I actually discovered a byte-grabber of sorts two weeks before I received the edition of PPC Journal which had the same technique described. Talk about proud. What a geek.
My academic heritage is pure math and I now work in software development (large custom systems). It comes as a surprise to folks when I tell them I have very little use for a calculator, but it is true. Of course, this has never stopped me from buying them.
My mid-life crisis must have kicked in recently as I suddenly felt the irresistable need to acquire great quantities of HP calculators, despite what my friends and my banker were telling me. I'm approaching 20 machines now. This doesn't include the programs on my Palm m515 and Tungsten|T.
Yikes. What a geek.
Hey, Jeremy... Look around. Right now there is something happening which, 20 years from now, will be looked back upon and declared to be the heyday of its kind. The trick is to recognize it.