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Introduction . . .
08-10-2019, 06:16 AM
Post: #1
Introduction . . .
Title says it all. My first post here and felt it should be an introduction.

Background:
I've had and used calculators of one kind or another for about 50 years. Closer to 60 years if I include the mechanical Magic Brain Calculator (Google that :-) ). Still have it. The device can add, subtract and multiply. It's a glorified abacus. Can also divide using multiple subtractions, if you are willing to accept remainders. My first serious calculator was acquired in 1970, a 10" Pickett N4-ES Vector type Dual Base Log Log speed rule. Came with a 6" N600. Still have them and they're in excellent condition. At one time I could do some very complicated calculations, including dual-precision multiplication and division which could get six significant digits. I'm very rusty now with it and would have to work with it for a while to become proficient now. Up through 1976 I drooled over the HP 35, 45 and 65 scientific calculators, but could not afford one. Couldn't even afford the less expensive TI models (SR-50 and SR-51). It was all I could do working full time to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and pay for tuition, books and lab fees for a full class load.

In 1979 I was earning enough to buy a TI-58C along with 4 additional ROM libraries loaded with math, science and engineering applications. Still works and I still pull it out occasionally, but it needs both NiCd battery packs rebuilt for replaceable AA cells a they don't hold much charge now. In the mid-1980's I used a HP 41cx for a while in the US Army. Had special apps one could load with the bar-code reader wand for division and corps level operations planning. Through the end of the 1980's I continued to use the TI-58 and a couple of inexpensive shirt pocket calculators with scientific functions, including a TI-30-III, which I still have and occasionally stuff into a shirt pocket for quick and dirty estimates and sanity checks.

In 1995, I need more calculating horsepower for RF comm systems engineering and statistical analyses of processes. Bought a TI-85. Runs circles around the TI-58, but can be RAM limited with only 32 kB total, 29 kB of which is usable. Nevertheless, it can connect to a PC which allows loading of equations and applications as needed, and transferring stored data. The "silver" USB cable is the one to use now with it. None of TI's current software will talk to it; requires using 3rd Party open source software (TiLP). Bought a TI-86 in 1997 or 1998, which still uses the same 6MHz Zilog Z-80 uP, but has 4X the RAM allowing more and larger applications to be stored on it. Communication with PC is more advanced. Added a Ti-89 Titanium to the fleet in the mid-2000's. Much faster with much more RAM. Just bought a TI-Nspire CXii CAS and I'm learning how to use it. I've got a battery of TI calculators, all working. You won't see me bashing them.

With all the TI hardware, why am I here?
I also own several HP calculators. First up is a HP 50g. Extremely capable, I'm glad I bought one when I did as I got it new for about $50. They're up to at least $400 new, if you can find one at that price, and they're very rapidly climbing toward $500. Just bought the HP Prime G2 (rev. D) and working on learning how to use it. Recently bought the DM42 from Swiss Micros. Was poking around to find a good HP 41CX, or maybe a 42S. The problem with both is connectivity and a mag card reader for the 41 can be problematic to keep working (just as with the TI-59's mag strip reader). Maintaining the TI-58C is sufficient work for me. The DM42 is a quantum improvement with its micro USB connectivity, more lines in its LCD display, much faster uP, larger memory, and much lower power consumption from a single CR2032. I'm a calculator user, not a collector, although I've accumulated a good number over the years without jettisoning any. Didn't make sense to pay a high "collector's price" for one.

Observations about TI vs HP over the past 45 years:
HP was on the leading edge with the 35, 45 and 65, and they were able to command a premium price for one. I remember when the 35 came out. They were $395 with no discount to be found anywhere. In today's dollars, that's about $2400. TI hit the streets two years later with the SR-50 at $170, which was quickly followed by the SR-51. Their marketing strategy was undercutting HP, and it was a successful one, although the HP's were the prestige hardware for those who could afford it. HP targeted the university science and engineering student and professional market. TI went after just about anyone who wanted a calculator that couldn't ante up HP's prices, including much less expensive scientific models for Jr. and Sr. High students. The big technology breakthrough was getting a scientific calculator onto a single IC. Spin forward a couple decades and TI did what Apple did, marketing to teachers and schools. This is where HP missed the boat. Computer applications like Matlab, Mathematica and Minitab are used on laptops by countless professionals now, giving them portability (notwithstanding their annual licensing cost nearly always paid by their employer; there are open source alternatives). Calculators aren't used by engineering and science professionals to the extent they once were into the 1990's. Laptops have given that software portability. The domain of hand held programmable calculator is mostly in schools now, from grade school through university undergrad programs. TI cornered the market on it in the US. They can command a higher price now as teachers specify one model or another for their classes. Textbooks have examples embedded in them showing how to solve problems on a TI calculator (usually a TI-83 or TI-84). HP has made inroads in the education market in Europe. Maybe they'll be able to get a foothold on the US market, but they waited too long. The barrier to change among educators now is extremely high. Going forward I expect to see more emphasis from HP on the education market as that's where the money is (i.e. the Cash Cow).

Came here looking for information to improve my use of the 50g and Prime to their full capability, and for applications (the number of math, science and engineering for the Prime is growing). Currently drinking from the information fire hose.

John

Calculators:
Pickett: N4-ES, N600
TI: 58, 30III, 36x, 85, 86, 89T, Voyage 200, Nspire CXii CAS
HP: 50g, Prime G2 (rev D), DM42
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08-10-2019, 03:07 PM
Post: #2
RE: Introduction . . .
Hello Jlind:

Welcome. My history very closely parallels yours!!!
[SR10/HP45/HP65...HP48/DM42]

Great job with the history review - it is the most accurate I've read in quite some time!

TomC
US/3rd Stone
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08-10-2019, 05:18 PM
Post: #3
RE: Introduction . . .
Welcome to the forums jlind!
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