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Have you used your calculator for something that was not really math related?
03-09-2017, 05:37 AM
Post: #3
RE: Have you used your calculator for something that was not really math related?
In 1981, I started with the TI-58c, and soon after, the 59, initially for calculating things that required looping and iterative processes that were a prohibitive amount of work to do by hand. But in 1983, at my job, I got introduced to, and interested in, lab instrumentation that could be controlled by computer, and in this case, a calculator. TI's could not control any equipment or take data automatically. Essentially the only I/O was the keyboard, display, and printer. It really was a calculator, not a hand-held computer like my friend's HP-41cv. So I got an HP-41cx and quite a complement of modules and other equipment, and right away began using it with the HP82169A HPIL-to-IEEE488 interface adapter to connect to equipment on the workbench at work to automate the repetitive jobs of taking certain readings through the DMM, and controlling programmable signal generators, relay boxes, power supplies, and so on.

In small but quick steps, the tiny company I was working for got into a product line that required a lot of testing that was totally impractical to do by hand. Not realizing how quickly this situation was going to escalate, I set up automated testing, using my HP-41 as the controller. Especially back then in the late 80's, people would be absolutely stunned to see a large rack of instrumentation controlled by something that would fit in a pocket. It gradually got to where I didn't get to use my HP-41 much anymore. Production test operators were using it all day to test our aircraft headsets in a small anechoic chamber. In fact, the first two million dollars' worth were tested by this HP-41cx and a 20-page program. Later, the control was transferred to a 68000-based HP series 9000 computer. Interestingly, it was not even twice as fast as the HP-41, because much of the time was spent giving filters time to settle and waiting for readings to come back from the equipment.

Now I still use the 41cx every day—not much as a controller anymore, but as a calculator, timer, alarm clock, a daytimer that reminds me of upcoming appointments upon turn-on, calendar, tracker for how much time I spend working on different accounts for my clients, and occasional notepad and phone directory. (The slowness of its text editor limits the scope of the last two.) As you might guess from this, I don't have, or want, a smartphone. (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, )
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RE: Have you used your calculator for something that was not really math related? - Garth Wilson - 03-09-2017 05:37 AM

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