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Some observations after being away for a while
05-18-2022, 04:17 AM
Post: #1
Some observations after being away for a while
Aloha,

I've mentioned elsewhere I have been away from this obsession with calculators for a while. I got my first collectable 41CV in 1997 from a fellow engineer at Microsoft for $35. He advertised it in the newsletter and I ran over and bought it from him right away. In college I started out with a used SR-52, and later upgraded to my first HP, an 11C in 1982. I never could afford a 41, and when I saw the ad I jumped on it. From there it was a bit of an obsession to take my mind off the grind of work. Nothing was more relaxing to me than writing little programs for the 41 before bed.

Consider what follows to be some Rip Van Winkle type observations as I've basically taken a 20 year nap.

So last night I finally went through all the boxes of calcs that have been calling to me for years every time I've moved or even walked past them. This was driven by finally starting my way through the 48SX manual with a 48SX I bought used. I discovered that the 48GX is quite different and I wanted to see if I had an open 48GX. I am discovering the 48's are pretty impressive, which I had also discovered with the 42S.

First off, I discovered my NIB 48SX and 48GX are worth quite a lot more than they cost when I bought them, and are going for roughly twice what I paid for them new. I should probably crack them open (old style paper boxes) and make sure they work. While my wife says crazy stuff like "why don't you sell them", I doubt I will ever part with them. I also discovered I had picked up NOS 28S, 32Sii, and 42S. I should also check that these items work. Apparently they are also worth quite a lot more than I paid for them. A while back (2015 maybe?) the prices on ebay had dropped quite a bit so I presumed popularity of collecting had dropped. I figured the old folks who had an emotional attachment to these amazing little machines had what they wanted and there were no new collectors coming into the market. That appears to have changed and there is a resurgence of popularity.

I should acknowledge I had been looking at prices back then because I hit a point where I had literally no money and was parting with some items I could live without. There were not many!

The next observation is that the community is amazingly large and diverse compared to 25 years ago. Dave Hicks probably has the best perspective on this, and the 20ish year break highlights the changes. I was building a house and collecting was a break from the stress. I moved into the house in March 2001, and set up a couple display cases with some calcs. And that was about it, I didn't look at the calcs much after that other than to box them up when I got divorced and started moving around (I figure you're wondering how I could let go of an obsession so easily!) Building a project recording studio was also a diversion.

I found in some of the papers the email from Andrew Davie regarding the HP-65 I bought from him, and the check stubs from the credit union for the certified checks I sent out to pay for calcs in the days before paypal on ebay. The note from Gene Wright with the HP-33E I got from him (I think that's what it was). The 2 sets of CD-ROMS from the museum from 1999 and 2000. People who are basically legends now were just starting their legend status then. And now we have new legends who have gone far beyond mere collecting and built so many hardware and software bits to keep the HP's alive - looking at you teenix and panamatik, and many more where I don't even know what you've done in the last 10 or so years because I have been away. There is so much more new stuff to discover in a hobby that I had thought maybe was dying.

A reopening of the sadness over the loss of Educalc, which was closing up just as I was getting into this. I got lucky in that I got to buy a ton of accessories at fire sale prices, but still missed a lot of other items because I found out about it only because I called to get some things they no longer had. The Educalc catalog (along with the other store I can't recall at the moment) was like a child's christmas "wish book" when I had been in college. I recall that what they had left was a lot of stuff that I wasn't super interested in, but I bought a bunch anyway. And it still wasn't enough - I should have bought lots more and not worried about the money so much because I had some then. Nearly everything I sold was from Educalc. There's even a note on one of my sheets of paper that I had to speak with Richard Nelson for some portion of the order.

And prices. I caught the collecting bug just as the transition from pawn shops, garage sales, surplus sales, and online classifieds was moving to ebay and everything more or less quadrupled in price. I have a 12C and a 27S that still have their pawn shop labels at $15 and $22. I found a receipt from a collectibles shop in Cottage Grove Oregon that shows I paid $16 for TI-58 and $13 for a TI-57. And the box of Navy Surplus HP-71B's I bought. They were in simple brown cardboard boxes, just the calc, case, and batteries, and they say something about "fire control computer" on them. The guy made me such a deal if I bought all 12. I ended up giving some away as gifts. Contrast with the stuff I bought on ebay which seemed (comparatively back then) ridiculously overpriced and I had to learn bidding strategies.

And quality from the perspective of time. Back then the TI calcs were not highly regarded because they were, well, crap. HP's are so much better, right? I'm not so sure 20 years on. Because I pulled out all my TI's that will sit on the PC-100C printer I have that is working. And the score is - of 7 or 8 TI-58, 58C, and 59 I have, all but one work. And the card readers work as well! My ancient SR-52 works (but no card reader). I won't know how may of the other rechargeable battery TI's work until I get battery packs rebuilt, but my ancient original TI-30 is also working. My 55's, 57, 50A, 40, and 50 may or may not work. And the 55 and 57 are built super cheap like the TI-30, but I'm hopeful.

By comparison, I have 6 non-functional 41 series, only one of which has the green cancer on the battery contacts. And 5 woodstocks and 5 spices. I should check that my NOS 41C, CV, and CX are working. Amazingly my 65 and 67's are working. I also have a 45 that seems to need a second rebuild but at least it wakes up. Also amazingly, my first 41CV is the one sitting on my desk right now.

Back in 2000 I would *never* have considered suggesting that the TI calcs would survive long term box storage better than the HP's. But they have. Not all of the keys are as cllcky as they used to be, but as I recall, some of these TI keyboard modules are easier to deal with than the HP's. We'll see.

It is a ton of fun to see how things have changed, and the vibrancy of the community is simply mind-blowing. The HP-200LX web site is my favorite, but only because I imagined putting up a static web site on a 41CX. I'm an old internet engineer and I wrote Dial Up Networking in Windows 95, and in 1998 a 41CX with a modem and a web page was a totally doable project. FWIW I have 2 NIB 95LX and 1 NIB 200LX (don't ask me to explain the lack of 100LX). Seeing people are still using these as well is just amazing. But - MS-DOS instead of that pig Windows that seems to just keep getting bloatier and bloatier (the windows NT kernel, though, is still *way* more industrial strength than what Apple does with Mach in MacOS. Apple just does a better job of making an integrated product which *none* of the Windows OEM's seem to care to bother with. But I'm ranting ...)

I think that's all my random thoughts of reminiscing, so it's time to stop before I start yelling at you kids to get off my lawn!

Thank you all for keeping these amazing little beasties alive!

Mahalo

HP-45/65/67,HP-11c/12c/16c,HP-21/25/25c/29c,HP-31e/32e/33e/34c,HP-41C/V/X,HP-22s/27s/32sii/42s,HP-48sx/gx,HP-35s,more
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05-18-2022, 01:49 PM
Post: #2
RE: Some observations after being away for a while
Welcome back to the hobby. That was a fun read. Lots of nice equipment, too.

I was more of a TI guy for years and still have a working 58C and 59 (bought more recently on eBay, not original to me). My first expensive calculator was the TI SR-51A that I bought with paper route money back in 1976 for $150. Somehow it ended up with my brother instead of me and he can't remember whatever happened to it. I do have a more recently purchased copy now for old time's sake.

I've dabbled with a few different HP models - 11C, 15C, 48G, 28S - all of which were bought, used for a while, then sold again. My current obsession is with the 41 series. I have a 41CV I bought last summer and quickly learned about cracked posts and how they render fullnut versions of the calculator unusable until repaired (which I have done).

I really wanted a 41CX all this time, but working examples are fairly pricey. However, I did luck on a nice looking CX this past weekend on eBay and bought it on a gamble for about 1/2 the price of the working ones. It's a halfnut and has clean battery terminals, so I'm crossing my fingers that when I put a working battery pack in it that it will fire up and work fine. It's being delivered today, so I should know in a few hours.
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05-18-2022, 07:40 PM
Post: #3
RE: Some observations after being away for a while
Thanks for the interesting story, Drew. Have you discovered SwissMicros yet?

— Ian Abbott
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05-18-2022, 11:43 PM
Post: #4
RE: Some observations after being away for a while
(05-18-2022 01:49 PM)Xorand Wrote:  I really wanted a 41CX all this time, but working examples are fairly pricey. However, I did luck on a nice looking CX this past weekend on eBay and bought it on a gamble for about 1/2 the price of the working ones. It's a halfnut and has clean battery terminals, so I'm crossing my fingers that when I put a working battery pack in it that it will fire up and work fine. It's being delivered today, so I should know in a few hours.
Aloha,

Thank you and good luck!
The 41CX is still my favorite but I'm not willing to risk my NOS one as a daily driver. I have one halfnut that I need to repair.

HP-45/65/67,HP-11c/12c/16c,HP-21/25/25c/29c,HP-31e/32e/33e/34c,HP-41C/V/X,HP-22s/27s/32sii/42s,HP-48sx/gx,HP-35s,more
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05-18-2022, 11:45 PM
Post: #5
RE: Some observations after being away for a while
(05-18-2022 07:40 PM)ijabbott Wrote:  Thanks for the interesting story, Drew. Have you discovered SwissMicros yet?

Oh my yes, years ago when the DM41 was a future dream. I need to order one, which I will do very soon now that I've blown my budget on some HP stuff that's becoming hard to get, like a 35S and the Prime that arrives tomorrow. Playing with the 48sx has shown me some potential value in them for re-learninig calculus.

If you ever need help with a juicy rationalization, I'm here to help!

HP-45/65/67,HP-11c/12c/16c,HP-21/25/25c/29c,HP-31e/32e/33e/34c,HP-41C/V/X,HP-22s/27s/32sii/42s,HP-48sx/gx,HP-35s,more
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05-19-2022, 12:21 AM
Post: #6
RE: Some observations after being away for a while
(05-18-2022 04:17 AM)DrewNicholson Wrote:  Aloha,

[...]
First off, I discovered my NIB 48SX and 48GX are worth quite a lot more than they cost when I bought them, and are going for roughly twice what I paid for them new.
[...]
Mahalo

Including inflation?
B^)

10B, 10BII, 12C, 14B, 15C, 16C, 17B, 18C, 19BII, 20b, 22, 29C, 35, 38G, 39G, 41CV, 48G, 97
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05-19-2022, 03:05 PM
Post: #7
RE: Some observations after being away for a while
(05-19-2022 12:21 AM)Ren Wrote:  Including inflation?
B^)

Maybe the same as inflation, but of course the prices of consumer electronics are supposed to go down, not up!

Each generation appears to have it's enthusiasts!

HP-45/65/67,HP-11c/12c/16c,HP-21/25/25c/29c,HP-31e/32e/33e/34c,HP-41C/V/X,HP-22s/27s/32sii/42s,HP-48sx/gx,HP-35s,more
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