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Full Version: Original 1980s era HP 12c build quality and cost
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I've read many comments about the superior quality of the original 12c and have had a chance to use one. I saw the original voyager series 12c sold for $150 or the equivalent of about $460 today. Does that explain why the original was so well built? Electronic components have come down in cost and manufacturing techniques have improved but is it possible to build a good quality 12c for the $60 to $80 they sell for? Probably not with the profit margin HP enjoys. Even the $120 12c from Swiss Micro is a bargain compared to the original HP 12c. Good keyboards are tough to come but at least laptops and desktops let you use a good external keyboard.
There were excellent budget calculators at that time. It's probably not the cost of components, but the cost of engineering. 'Recent' calculators like the 35s and the 15C LE suffer from bugs and missing QC rather than from cheap electronics.

Beta test phases have been cut (this was reported here), else some of the many 35s bugs would have been cought, and a better designed debouncing algorithm would have prevented double registration of key strokes on the 15C LE.

Also, it seems iterations in design are too limited, else it would have been noticed the 'roll and click' mechanics doesn't work well for the 35s cursor keys, and HP would have changed the layout.

So, I guess the development costs between starting a project and getting it out to the warehouse have been cut down unreasonably.

Voyagers feel perfect. I have an old 12C and an old 15C, and think engineering made the best out of what was available at that time.
I think the engineering and testing process that went into the HP-48SX (also used for the HP-48G/GX and HP-38G series) was the last of the legendary traditional HP quality calculator design. Of course that was probably the last time that a large number of people would be willing to spend $350 on a calculator as calculators would no longer be considered high end tools used by professionals.

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