| 33s Lecture for Sunday (long)|
Message #90 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 21 Feb 2004, 9:34 p.m.,
in response to message #27 by Paul Brogger
Lecture for Sunday
The glass is [ 60 COS ] full
As many preachers, I will talk about things I have not seen by myself. I rely in the inspired words of brother Paul, perhaps one of the first few to saw them, and one who generously shared his enlightened knowledge with us.
After a long wait, the 33S is with us. It shares the “33” number with older ancestors as 33E and 33C, and the “S” symbol with many respected RPN Pioneers like 32 and 42. Its family roots are so established. While the words “Hewlett Packard” seem not to appear at first view, at least the HP symbol is there, giving us some matter to hang our beliefs on.
I need to tell a short personal story in order to show why I’m convinced that the glass is half-full, and not the other way around. When my older daughter was 13 (now she is 19), I bought one of the last 32 SII available in Buenos Aires (old color scheme), to be used in her secondary school. Now she is an engineering student, and a second-generation RPN fan who cannot use regular calculators anymore. Worried about the possibility of having made her dependent on an almost extinct notation, I later bought her a second 32 SII (alas, new colors) just as a backup to ease the upcoming shortage pains that seemed bound to affect all RPN users.
When my second daughter entered the last years of primary school, I wanted to give her a scientific calculator, to introduce many of the mathematical ideas she will later be learning. The only thing available was the 30S, not RPN, poor quality, bad keys, no manual… Trying to avoid the already mentioned RPN shortage pain syndrome, I assumed with little comfort that perhaps algebraic notation was adequate enough for her. Now I have a better option for her.
For years we asked in this Forum for something probably close to a 43S. The 33S is not that machine, and has a busy keyboard with a strange chevron layout. But, at least, it is RPN, its keys seem to be better than those on the 49 series, overall quality seems acceptable, it comes with a thick manual, and is affordable enough to fulfill HP's internal success criteria about volume sales (yes, business are a part of it, whether we like them or not).
As many people said before, at least is a RPN programmable we can buy today and use without risking to lose, wear or damage our priceless 41, 42, etc. And I think that the price/functionality ratio is more than acceptable; perhaps the best of all current HP calculators.
Older models will not be remanufactured again. It is plain impossible (the old components and chip manufacturing processes are no longer available) and, further, the economics of so doing are more than dark. And, let us not forget, old classics also had their share of defects and limitations; things that our love for them should not prevent us to see.
Just as examples:
The 41 is one of my favorites, but mine would be working was it not because of internal bad contacts, damaged flexible backplane and broken plastic screw posts. How nice would have been for it to use standardized connectors for peripherals! (granted, there were few such standards at the time). Were 64 registers enough for the basic 41C?
My 25 is also a favorite but... How many Woodstocks have died because a battery pack connection and charging circuitry which were less than excellent?
My 42 is a third favorite but... How many Pioneers are impossible to repair due to an almost unopenable case? How many have problems because of plastic dome keyboards? How many 42 users needed a serial I/O which was purposefully omitted? Was a good idea to enter Alpha symbols via just six softkeys?
How many Champions lost their battery doors, or suffered from damage on the flat, flexible cable that connect both halves? Was the 28C useful with just 2K RAM?
My 48G+ is not a favorite. In any case, for 48 and 49: Are RPL and the infinite stack good things for a calculator? (my opinion is negative) Wouldn’t be nice not to keep nagging to the user all the time, just as bragging about error message variety? Wouldn’t be nice to implement a NULL function for mispressed keys, as in the HP41?
How many Spices had bad chip contacts or loose battery connectors?
Was it reasonable to charge almost U$S 1K (1975 dollars, I mean) for a 100-nonmerged steps HP65 with almost no editing functions nor conditional test capabilities?
(I don’t have many issues with the first Classics and Voyagers, but there may be some)
Moral 1: Like it or not, all families and models had their share of defects and problems. And, while we may miss the old models, the old company, the old times, etc., we should concede that things were not as perfect as our fond memories may suggest today.
Moral 2: Embrace the 33S, try to make the best from it, keep asking HP for that elusive 43S (if they have successfully migrated the 32 SII functionality to current hardware, they may intend to migrate the 42S someday...), for a better keyboard layout, for double letter labels. I think that, looking from the 30S to the 33S, HP has put at least some attention to our voices.
Moral 3: Let’s hope that some certification authority will not ban the 33S based on equation lists or full-of-prompts-programs that can be written in almost 30 Kby RAM… (cross our fingers)
Moral 4: Electronic auctions prices should drop to reasonable levels for old models, allowing bona-fide collectors to keep their hobby running.
Moral 5: Creative electronic wizards may attempt to turbocharge the 33S: Shadow memory initialized via USB? Display signaling and keyboard matrix switching for simple I/O in a 97S style? There are reasons not to discard these possibilities.
Moral 6: Time passes by, so let’s enjoy your lives and the good and affordable things available while we can. As I said once, “HP was what it was at the time when we were who we were” The world (and we all) have changed a lot in 25 years, some for better, some for worse. Things are not (and will not be) the same again.
May you all be blessed