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I tried finding Glynn's e-address, and as I did not find it, I'm posting mine. So, Glynn, as you mentioned you'd stick around for a while, I'll wait till the right moment for you. Anyway, I'd like you to feel free dropping me a mail. Anytime.

As anyone else in here, please.



Y'know, I sometimes have filled in that "e-mail address" field at the top of the <Post a New Response> form. But I have never ACTUALLY seen an address print out for me, and no clickable button, so far as I know. (But then, maybe I haven't been that attentive...)

I certainly would enjoy hearing from others here. I'm most often reachable at


and I don't mind writing whatever we need to, but I have to tell you that HP has indeed heard from Many of us before, and we have offered much advice; but, ahem, probably most of it helped the calc office reach their paper-recycling goals that quarter. ;-)

And believe me, the idea of restarting production on a favored calculator line isn't exactly new.

I am guessing the only approach that HASN'T been tried is to set up a real company that would have OUR brand and not HP's, offer support without HP, market by ourselves, have all the certifications and bear the expenses; just have HP as the manufacturer (HP has ALWAYS done this OEM work for other companies and products-- and most extensively was a contractor for the military-- so this is not an off-the-wall suggestion, though I don't know that they've EVER yet done a Calculator for someone else.) As far as the new brand being a hindrance in marketing it ourselves, uh... Yeah. But naming it Legacy or something, and focusing it specifically to markets HP is not incredibly passionate about, avoiding THEIR distribution channels, and pricing it deliberately at a point far above any existing HP niche-- these would have to be part of an overall presentation. A "gold-plated" 42 or slight variant? Might just work.

Note the above gambit would actually require capitalization. This happens to be one reason all other attempts fade quietly. Who puts their money where their mouse is? If you sell subscriptions or shares, you will be guaranteeing to your "subscribers" or Investors that a product WILL emerge from your efforts; in other words, prepare to negotiate with alternative suppliers (TI? Casio?) or if HP isn't interested, you'll be mailing back a lot of checks.

Perhaps before we proceed to talk about this again, Dave Hicks will chime in with his and others' past experiences in this area. Dave has had, as I recall, fairly cordial relations with HP and has talked either formally or through his connections there on just such an idea as bringing back the 42s. He would know certainly a great deal on how to proceed; and that would be helpful...

Anyway, Luiz; you've spoken of economics in a past post. As a Great American Philosopher has spoken: "Show me the Money!!!" is an economic principle big companies are quite addicted to-- and my guess is that a studious letter with 1000 names will still fall short, unless a Dollar figure appears in the final paragraph. Hewlett-Packard is IN business to DO business, and that's what they understand clearest. At least, that is my guess at this time. Feel free to convince me otherwise, please!!!

Hi; (shorter than Hello...)

Yes, I have posted some of my view on economics, right. You see, they’re not adequate. I have no arguments convincing you otherwise, today’s business are today's business.
We live in and for business, alright. If I'm dealing with business, I'd never write that, believe me.

About reintroducing off-production calcs. HP has its own reasons to close their lines, and they are well known FOR THEM. If we know at least a condensed reports of their figures, at least we would be able to set guidelines for ourselves. I mean, instead of claiming for the return of the 42S, why not bringing a calculator that goes for the market, make money AND add RPN in a single keypunch? Say, an [RPN/AOS] key and an [ENTER/=] key. Programming AND equation storage space, the way user wants. The HP14B has an INPUT key that works in a different way, used for intermediate results as the user goes for algebraic solutions. In some RPN operations I would like having a kind of INPUT key (or a PUSH/POP) so intermediate results would be stacked in a parallel operating stack.

Lets take the example given by Cameron (Hello!). The PC1211's Manual mentioned that an algebraic sequence needed to be rewritten in RPN fashion, so the computer itself would be able to process data and math operations. Would the HP algebraics do the same?

Well, maybe it's time to ask HewPack 'What are your plans? Would you accept us to contribute?'. Not in a passive form, as posts in here, but directly writing then and asking AND suggesting. And if Dave Hicks has already been that close, why not try walking beside them? Even by calling Iain back, do you all believe he would accept? Asking him to post HP's plans THAT ACCEPT SUGGESTIONS for changing. Maybe it's time to order our custom machine BEFORE it's ready to launch.

I would write this first privately, and later as a post. I believe after all I read from you, guys, (Hi again, Cameron), I'm posting it as fresh material.


I like the 42S myself. I don't really need a bunch of 42s though because I have so many 41s lying around. (I bought some very cheap New In Box 41CVs when EduCalc shut down a couple of years ago, for example. Assuming a good shelf life, I'm set for awhile.)

However, I did try to put together a limited run of HP-42S calculators. I offered to buy a small run and make myself the distributor/dealer. The idea was to take all the market uncertainties on myself and make it a simple production exercise for HP. I figured I could keep the price the same as the original retail but would give HP a chance to make it worthwhile by removing the normal distributor/dealer markups.

HP (ACO) wasn't even mildly interested. It was probably due to the size of the run. I don't recall the actual numbers but I think I was thinking of an investment in the low 6 figures (USD) - a lot of risk for my personal finances but peanuts for a large company. Indeed, it occurred to me later that they could probably spend most of that in meetings deciding whether this was really a good idea. (At least if HP was like my employer ;-))

In the meantime, I mentioned on the forum that such a thing might happen and got 3 "count me in" responses. Admittedly I did this without a lot of fanfare - as a response in another bring back the 42S thread but still... 3... That didn't leave me feeling very comfortable with my offer on the table ;-)

Further down, I noticed that Thibaut mentioned his polling data and if I'm reading it right we have 7ish people who want HP to reintroduce the 42S. (And a couple who want the 35 to be reintroduced!) This is from what looks like about 20 self-selected respondents to a poll offered to people who like old HP calculators. I mean no offense to Thibaut because it's a fine poll of what we like here but I have a feeling that Mr. Morris would get a chuckle out of it. HP probably has market studies, focus groups, sales records vs. sales projections, NRE & BOM vs. price etc. for every calculator they've sold and we're trying to change their minds with a poll of 20 old HP calculator fans.

I think we need either someone willing to run a real marketing study or an incredibly persuasive presentation that can convince HP to pay for it. Something that indicates that they've missed an entire market segment or that they've been marketing calculators the wrong way or a new calculator boom is about to begin or HP calculators drive sales of other HP products or ...

What I've read so far is messages from people who really want the 42S back. That's great and I agree, however, I'm still looking for the convincing argument that this is important to HP. I've seen some good anecdotes but I think they need additional work to be persuasive.


I agree that a profit and a good business move on Hp's part are the driving force for them to re-establish an older Hp42s line. Since Hp already makes the Hp17, the tooling and nearly everthing else is already there (aside from the rom and Keys, but they are minor modifications in the overall scheme of things). I would like a few enhancements that wouldn't cost Hp hardly a cent, add units conversions and a clock. I would also like I/O and more memory but this would add cost.

I feel Hp did not ever market the 42s for fear of robbing from their 48g line of calculators. But that was a mistaken assumption made by market and bean counter types, not by engineers. Students bought the 48g (or Ti's)and then progressed into the engineering or whatever field with their graphics vs Hp41 users and people who wanted pocket calculators with some horsepower either buy a graphics (and not usually Hp, but some other by 2:1 or more) or do with a low end Hp32 or some other under power product. The Hp42 just was not readily availabe and when it was, was priced at nearly the same level as an Hp48 when it should have been priced at the same level as an Hp17. It never was until the very end as it was discontinued.

It is for that reason, it was never popular, not that it was not a great calculator. People who use it, know, people who compare specs, buy the Hp48 and never realize what Hp offered as a pocket calculator. The Hp32s could be modified by just adding 2-8 k and it too would be much better (still not a 42, but much better than it now is).

Hp even did a redesign of the Hp12 (they could have added more memory and/or a scientific mode). I would have bought two right off the bat at retail for that calculator (as long as it was below $100). Did they? No, Hp stuck with status quoe and targeted their business RPN customer (which by the way, isn't all that smart, knowing that the longitivity of this paticular model is usually 10 years, even with hard use).

Am I pi$$ed at Hp. You bet I am. Can I blame them? Whether I can rationally or not, I will.

Also, even though Ian Morris was nice enough to post here, I am afraid he was not sincere. And by this I mean, to me Hp is withdrawing from the market and just in damage control mode. Look around you. Do any major office chains or dept stores carry any Hp calculators other than the Hp6s, Hp30s or Hp10Bii (and even the 6s and 30s aren't that plentiful). I posted this question on another board and only one response was positive (and it was misguided, since the individual mentioned a surverying store, which of course will carry Hp, probably to the end). Yes, there are WEB stores, but these are not a big market mover, as Educalc can probably attest to. I bought a couple of Hp's from Jim (an Hp48 and a few others). I wished I'd bought more. Therefore, when Ian stated that Hp would continue to produce and market calculators, I was/am skeptical. I don't see it. Also, try to buy an Hp48GX, it isn't available directly from Hp anymore. To me, this appears to be Hp in full retreat from the market and trying to quell any mass market fears that may affect their stock. (truthfully, most consumers don't even know Hp makes calculators, so this is just another Hp moron move by their marketers PR damage control group also).

Just me, Ranting and Raving, with foam on the mouth.

"The Hp42 just was not readily availabe and when it was, was priced at nearly the same level as an Hp48 when it should have been priced at the same level as an Hp17"

The list price for the 42S was $10 higher than the 17B and $45 less than the 48G. An old Educalc catalog that I have handy shows the street price of the 42S as $5 higher than the 17B. Street price for the 48G was around $30 higher. The same catalog shows that the comparatively ancient 12C with 1/70th as much memory and 1/15th the processor speed was only $10 less than the 42S. Yet the 12C is still available to this day.

"Do any major office chains or dept stores carry any Hp calculators other than the Hp6s, Hp30s or Hp10Bii (and even the 6s and 30s aren't that plentiful)."

Between the local Office Depot and Staples I can also find the 49G, 17BII, 12C and I think the 19BII. But they didn't carry HPs in HP's heyday. Indeed, other HP fans have blamed HP for allowing major office chains to market HP calculators, thereby undercutting knowledgeable sellers like EduCalc, etc. This is just one example of the inconsistencies in our complaints that will probably have to be worked out if we expect business people to listen to any plans we have. (Strangely enough, I was one of the very few people arguing that mass marketing and allowing consumers to choose support vs. price was NOT a bad idea but it seemed a VERY unpopular idea in that thread.)

"To me, this appears to be Hp in full retreat from the market and trying to quell any mass market fears that may affect their stock. (truthfully, most consumers don't even know Hp makes calculators, so this is just another Hp moron move by their marketers PR damage control group also)."

Well most people who buy HP stock don't know they make calculators either. I haven't seen a corporate profile of HP from any stock service in years that contained the word "calculator" so I find it hard to believe that Mr. Morris was trying to prop up the stock price.


Glynn, you wrote: >"Y'know, I sometimes have filled in that "e-mail address" field at the top of the <Post a New Response> form. But I have never ACTUALLY seen an address print out for me, and no clickable button, so far as I know. (But then, maybe I haven't been that attentive...)

I'm not sure this is your doubt, but let me try...

When you post your e-address in the field and you open your own message, you see the heading:

Posted by glynn on...

If you do not post your e-address, you see:

Posted by glynn on...

Your name will become a link to your e-address in the first case; see? This way, your e-address becomes available.


...this is precisely why I never got past the first couple of moves in "Colossal Cave"... ;-)

Look again Dave. Call anyone of your local supply stores and ask. One month ago, I would have said the same thing, I don't now.

Also, while educalc may have had a disparity of pricing, I assure you the local Service Merchandise or college bookstore did not.

Add the 48GX to my previous list and the 19BII is no longer just a maybe. It is kind of amazing to see a a couple of >$100 calculators in a sea of $6-12 calculators but so far they're still there. Oh and you can get the 10B or the 10Bii depending on whether you go to Office Depot or Staples. The 12C is still available at both stores for $69.99. Office Depot's price on the 17BII is $89.99 - higher than EduCalc's price was. I forgot to check the price at Staples.

I grant that all this could change any day but regardless of the answer, I don't understand which answer is meant to encourage the reintroduction of the HP-42S. Like I've said I've seen people claiming that HPs should and should not be sold in these stores.

Also, while educalc may have had a disparity of pricing, I assure you the local Service Merchandise or college bookstore did not.

EduCalc's prices were pretty much a standardized discount off HP's MSRP. (It looks like subtract ~23% and then round up to end in 2.95, 4.95 or 9.95.) If another store chooses a different discount model, I don't think that HP can control that.

But naming it Legacy or something, and focusing it specifically to markets HP is not incredibly passionate about, avoiding THEIR distribution channels, and pricing it deliberately at a point far above any existing HP niche-- these would have to be part of an overall presentation. A "gold-plated" 42 or slight variant? Might just work.

I think of this as the 42SW (for Swiss Watch version :-)) Essentially something like a 42S in something like a titanium case with a scratch resistant synthetic (white) sapphire panel over the LCD and an extraordinarily high price. Many old Swiss watch makers who were nearly bankrupted by the Quartz watch are now doing quite well in the very high end. Can you pull this off with calculators too? I have no idea.

One of the things that people from EduCalc and Handicalc complained about was that the big chains were able to sell 48s at huge discounts due to the volume of sales. Perhaps they didn't discount the 42S as steeply because they weren't selling at a similar volume. The less time an item stays in your inventory, the lower the markup you need to make a profit.

Well, actually I'm working for that Swiss Watch company that bought the major nearly bankrupted watchmakers and built up a group out of it.

I'm not sure you can compare both markets, as, even if we guys do show some, the watch is far more an emotional item than a calculator.

Actually the main reversal of trends began in the early 80's when Swatch proposed a "consumer's watch", ie an item that could be changed, that was fashionnable, while it wwas traditionnally somethig you got at your engagement's paty for the rest of your life.

Well, of course, let's dreaming about a 42SW but I'm afraid that 75% of the sales will occur amongst our community... So one way to do so is to buy 42S on ebay and find someone who has the craftmanship to put a sapphire glass and cover it with titanium...

By the way, I certainly not felt offended by your remark on my poll. It was really pleasant to establish, I received something like 30 answers, which is absolutely not significant, and you get a point when you say HP guys could burst into laughter if they read the results... let's talk about figures : how many 42S could we sell here ? 50 ? 100 ? 500 ? no big deal at all... Who would like to store more than 5 42's ?

I am under the impression that we are wishing to alert HP that we don't agree with their actual politics and put a lot of pressure on them to restart a given up production line, but do we really think it's good business to do so ? I share Glynn's ideas when he say that they're IN business to DO busines.

So the only option we have is to ask them to put the functionnalities of our beloved calcs on their now ones. And I think they somewhat care : let's take the 19BII : they added not only RPN on the 19B, but also many scientific functions, which makes of it a very very wide ranged calculator ! no real programming, but the HP solver is really powerful and includes summations, conditions, ...

So I guess that our only chance is to ask them to propose the choice between alg and RPN/RPL on their models !


Maybe my memories are far from being trustable, but I remember buying my 42 in the end of 1989, at the very moment it was offered here in Brazil (Serial # is 2945B20208). At that time, I also remember the HP48S as the one being offered as a low-priced SX for those who did not want expandability.

Then it comes my question to Dave: if I am not wrong, the 42 was more expensive than the 48S. I remember not buying the 48S just cause I already had an SX, but I thought a lot about it (couple of seconds, maybe) before buying the 42S. "Emulating the 41 with 8K RAM? No way! Gimme that 42!" All the rest is history...


Ron wrote:

"(truthfully, most consumers don't even know Hp makes calculators ... "

I don't know whether to laugh or cry every time I hear a business reporter say HP wants to concentrate on their "traditional" products - PCs and printers!

(Does anybody remember the new name of the test equipment division?)


maybe this is the best shot we have. Sales for the HP42S were not as expected cause of internal affairs: another complete new, low priced calc. Despite of being new, Pioneer-style model, it was a mere 41's evolution (please, don't blame me. I don't think this way... Keep reading). Many former 41 users would by it ONLY IF compatible I/O was available. I remember a classmate of mine when he saw my new 42 (I proudly showed it to him and, guess what?):

"- Where can I connect my 41's printer? Isn't it compatible? If I cannot connect my printer, it's not compatible!
(me)- Well, there is a brand-new, IR printer that you can use; just aim and...
- I'm not talking about just the printer: the card-reader, the wand, application modules... You know what? Maybe this new 48 series will give us more. At least more memory. Besides, it is cheaper, has an RS232 compatible I/O..."

Well, this is a fact HewPack should consider: market approach. Do you agree?


Hi Dave and all,

I was at the local Staples yesterday. We don't have Office Depot nearby. The Staples supply of modern HP mid-range calcs was pretty good (10bii, 30s, 12c, 17(?) or 19(?) - the folding one).

I found the 12c display model to be quite interesting, it was the first I've seen that was made in China. It's hard to describe, but it had a slightly different look to it. The key label fonts were maybe a little less-well defined, and the yellow key looked a little orange to my slightly color-blind eyes. The keys, while not as "snappy" as the old-time HP feel, were still way better than the things on my HP-49. RPN still worked on it, too.

The 12C has had a long life, too bad the 42S couldn't have enjoyed some of the same.

The last Office Depot I was at had mark-down/close-out prices on their HP-48's. I should have bought some more for my kids, but I still have dreams that they can get through school with a stack of 41C's and peripherals. That, and no tv -- ha ha.

Kind regards,


The 35th anniversary of the introduction of the HP-35 will be something like 2007.

Now, it's looking ahead quite a bit, but a 35th anniversary version of the HP-35 (actually, something like an alphanumeric LED implementation of an HP-32S with more memory) would be really cool . . .

Neither the 48SX nor the 48S existed in 1989.

The 48S came out in 1991 at a list price of $250 - more than twice the 42S but less than the 48SX at $350.

The 48 series did not even get close in price to the 42S until the 48G was introduced for $45 more in 1993. By this time the 42S was in its fifth year of production.

Let's look at another bit of HP pricing. When the HP-22 came out, it replaced the HP-70 but also added some new features that made it better in some ways than the HP-80. Nonetheless, the HP-80 continued to sell during the life of the 22. The 22 was $165 and the 80 was $395. You could look at this as HP's (apparently failed) attempt to kill the HP-80 but I think what it really represents is 2 years of technological progress. Nonetheless "enough" people where willing to pay that much extra for the HP-80.

Similarly, the 42S predates the earliest 48 by a couple of years. It's because the 48s have more features and hardware that they were priced higher rather than lower as was typical for newer models. Criticizing HP for not pricing the older model "lower enough" or not forcing stores to maintain the price difference in their discounts when older models are typically priced higher is really a stretch I think.

The HP-35 might sell very well today if it were priced below the HP-6s but it would probably cost at least 100 times as much as the 6s to manufacture.

...in charge. (which calculator was that? Gee...)

I've occasionally dreamed of a model halfway between a 41 and a 42 - essentially, a 42S with more memory, faster processor and two 41-compatible slots. There are some technical questions that I've never explored involving how you maintain full compatibility while making these changes but where I really think it falls down is in the marketing/business side.

Essentially, we'd be asking HP to make a calculator whose claim to fame is that it works with a bunch of old equipment that we can buy from the museum classifieds and Ebay. It tends to have a "Yeah we know the 41C line is dead but we made one anyway!" feel to it. Also they have to work out the compatibility details with all that old stuff but wouldn't be able to make that money back by selling all those peripherals today. The alternative is to also bring back a whole line of new peripherals. (Which in turn brings up new questions like is HP-IL ready for 2002 or does it need an upgrade etc...) That would be fun but it would be a major campaign so we'd really need some serious market data to get that started.

Why not? It works for E. Leitz and M6's.

I'm glad someone actually brought up the "other" division. This division is still turning out good quality products with good value (I say this having compared Agilent's benchtop DMM (34401A) with the Fluke 45. Both are at the same price point, but the HP is superior in function, construction, etc.). I would like to know how long-time HP test equipment users feel how the new equipment compares to the old - if someone strongly disagrees, I would like to hear your opinion of their performance after the split. I think that if the calculator development team had been given to Agilent, we would have an Agilent 43 handheld calculator with data logging functionality and other goodies (it might be horribly expensive and only sell 459 units a year, but they would stock it). Unfortunately, it was decided that HP would exist to market consumer goods (cr*p) and Agilent would continue doing what made HP a great company. I was happy to read the negative responses to Iain Morris's nonsense post, and we do have him, Carly, and their ilk to blame for the 6s, not the marketplace.


"42SW"... I like it!!!

A watch (dang thing is JUST supposed to tell you the correct time) IS a very personal choice. I myself have three watches: one which I always wear to work, it's a Casio LCD digital so beat up it cannot possibly be hurt further; one I have for "dress", (a Citizen) whose major virtue is that it is fairly readable to my aging eyes while still looking dignified; and a Fossil retro I NEVER wear, that I just HAD to have when I saw it because it was a silly red-LED (press button to tell time) like my old (high-school) TI watch I remember so fondly. Unfortunately my old TI would display for about three seconds on one button-press; the Fossil stupidly forces you to hold its button down continuously-- making what was ordinarily a mere chore into a downright debilitation. Hate that watch, wish I'd never bought it.

By "gold-plated" (an admittedly clumsy word choice) I DO mean premium, cost-not-the-object, use of quality materials; but I do NOT mean "precious". I mean WORTHY.

Indeed I would LOVE a Uniax (DuPont Displays) polymer-LED screen (bright amber characters on black) on your 42"SW". A regular LCD with some expensive crystal doesn't rev me up at all. But a polarized filter to make glare less of a problem does make sense to me. Expensive, but RIGHT.

I would love tall-felling keys as I have on my 33c with their crisp "snick" detent; Hp gave that up as way too expensive. Yes it is. But to someone who wants to be darn sure that what he is keying is entered correctly, that tactile feedback is WORTH it.

I would urge a modern "data-port" of some capability, probably not HPIL, but maybe "CAN" or a decent speed USB-derivative. The idea of a peripheral team that magnifies the calc's abilities with data-gathering intelligence is one that intrigues me. TI has created an ultrasonic ranging device and an analog data-sampling device as add-ons for use by schools in their "Explorer" series-- a MAJOR reason our area schools fell in love with the TI-92 (and made district-wide purchases). I can imagine a set of surveying tools, or a multiport-simultaneous DMM/scope for doing electrical analysis... plugged in to our calc through a port of sufficient speed to allow these and storage of the gathered data.

The mag-cards of the 41 and 67 and so on were not just an interim step towards the 42's non-volatile memory, in MY regard. If you lose your 42's memory, or lose the 42 itself, well, you lose programs. You lose WORK. But if the 42"SW" had a SmartCard memory of say 32 or 64M, which I see as a natural for a premium calc of today, archiving programs, switching directories-full of routines, etc. would be DARN USEFUL.

I've not mentioned anything YET that cannot NOW be engineered into a 42"SW" in its current form-factor and, while it would be QUITE AN EXPENSIVE device, each of these improvements would add to what we already know as a highly-useful and productive tool. That's all I REALLY want: a tool that makes sense in every aspect. Updating and revising a product for today in some ways might sound heretical. But it oughta happen...

Democracy, Circuses and Bread:

There is a certain philosophy Marketing types often hold, and one that we often accept blindly and persistently from them, which says: always make --whatever you make-- best for the greatest number.

This democratization of product means, eventually, cheap but "ubiquitous" products-- you get them at Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart is incredibly successful. The strategy is a good one, and many benefits derive from this approach. Not least is that, in production, it has often been true in the past that unless you implement the economies of scale, you cannot even get back the costs of beginning production. So large-scale production almost always dictated a mass-marketing approach.

I remember my neighbor of many years back, who was building a "custom" car. He labored long, loving hours on his jalopy, creating a body out of fiberglass. He explained to me how fiberglass was PERFECT for creating a single-copy car-- because metalworking was a terrifically difficult option few craftsmen understood or practiced. But all cars I had ever been around were metal-- why? Because at the scale of production of Ford and GM and Chrysler, they could invest in production costs like creating diework and stamping for a particular model of car... and the metal was a superior material for the characteristics of the product they were trying (at the time) to achieve; one that sold in hundreds of thousands of units a year.

Times have changed. A friend has a Saturn, and was proudly showing me the impact-resistance of his all-plastic door-panels. Meanwhile, a shop down the street has some interesting fabrication tools: a couple of "water-piks" that can cut huge sheets of metal and one can even form them AS IF the metal were stamped on a huge press. They can do this by computer, MEANING the setup costs of a job are no longer in expensive custom dies and forms-- a computer draftsman makes a 3-D "warping" of a sheet on the screen (the computer knows the rules about what it can do), and the machines make it happen. My jalopy-making neighbor would be dying to get hold of this...

This KIND of innovation is set to turn the "economies of scale" arguments on their heads. A trip to Fujitsu made me salivate over the already-real prospect of a "custom" chip (made from standard libraries of incredible circuits)-- the kind of chip that only a IBM or a HP could have made for themselves a few years ago. But they'll make me one, or a hundred, or a million, to MY specification, because they are set up to do just that!!! Lessee, I need that ARM CPU core, and that Non-Volatile memory over there, and let's have some of this interface circuitry on the side... A cafeteria from which, I believe, small organizations and big ones BOTH gain the "economy of scale".

As these things happen, companies like HP have, ironically, overwhelmingly turned themselves over to the "mass-market" camp. They cannot indulge any longer in products meant for a few professionals. Many of HP's earlier products, including things like the 35, were initially "concept proving-grounds": meant to extend the company's prowess and develop markets for technologies HP already owned. Sating the curiosities of creative and innovative engineers is all very well; but nowadays revenue, stock value and market-share trump all. And those who grew up in the world of business and marketing are absolutely convinced: the secret to success lies ultimately in seeking the largest possible numbers of products sold, and maximizing the return, wherever that philosophy may take you.

So in this era, a few lawyers mining your "intellectual property" make more money for you than a few engineers doing intellectualizing in the first place. And products which have no PROVEN mass appeal are to be avoided like death, while hitching your star to a developed mass (Barbie printer, need I say more?) is a high corporate ideal.

A calculator with Mass-Appeal has been all HP have really been interested in developing over the last decade. It is my opinion that ACO was getting closer to that goal, but farther afield of its perceived "turf". <<Why develop a math-teaching tool, that is too obscure and limited a market; focus instead on something Kids will like; WHAT! not a youth-PDA that will outdo (and maybe undercut the sales of) our "proven market" Windows machines!!!>> And so ACO had to go.

But we are not a mass-market, we calc users. Which is why we react so strongly to mass-market driven decisions like AOS and koolaid color-schemes. We would love the cheap tool, IF it still held the same utility as those HP calcs we fell for many years ago; we are happy if HP makes things that are both useful and popular. But what we would find MOST useful would, at least for now, cost too much to have a broad audience. In current HP eyes, that doesn't make sense. So they won't make it. Given their needs, blaming them does not make much sense.

So, is there a place for a limited-market approach? We should not look to HP to have a go at it; they won't.

A 42-style RPN programmable calc that easily fits in your hand and offers the advantages of over a decade of technical advance-- it could be done. The question many WANT to ask at this point is: but would it even sell to the limited market it was intended for? But there is no "pat" answer. The questions of user cost are important; but if it was sufficiently useful and WORTH the cost, and that worth were provable to them, I feel it might be worth the gamble.

I have no laptop computer, because I am not "on the go" like the average laptop user. I can't afford a >$1000 toy. But many people with less expendable income than I, DO have laptops instead of or in addition to a desk computer. They have spent the grand or more because they can justify the expense on the basis of their mobile productivity. It has WORTH they personally quantify before they spring for the Pavilion or Thinkpad or Presario or Tecra or Vaio... and laptops, once a conspicuous luxury or a tool only for professional executive types, reach down to anyone who can see the worth of having their computer on the train or at the beach.

ANY product, to catch the market it is intended for, must justify its expense to the user. Could a merely fancy calc do it?

In some respects, I see limits... but a marketer might ask: what is the upper limit you would pay for a calc? And most folk today would answer: oh, about a hundred for a really GOOD calc. And the marketer ends at that. The user, who knows where he can get a selection of calcs for under $100, has echoed the current market back to the marketer. But if what we are talking about is a significantly useful calc that makes other competition look lowly, then all bets are off.

It happened before, to me; twice. That's how, in years when money was even MORE dear, I came to buy HP products that were substantially higher priced than anything else at the college bookstore.

I don't own an Aston Martin; I don't have Rolexes stuffing my bedside-drawer; I like high-end audio but mostly listen to my clock-radio (a Magnavox). But I have some HP calculators, and if my priorities are out of step compared with the mass-market, it maybe explains why I still believe in that which was "HP magic".

That 42SW??? IF: it had a bright and readable multi-line display, a high-speed interface for a new generation of data-gathering peripherals, a SmartCard slot, and all the usual 42s functionality; with good keys, layout and durability of the kind we remember...

Yeah, I might squirm a bit, might look for faults to disqualify it, but ultimately I might pay $350 for it. That's a lot of bread. That's MORE than I'd pay for a PDA. And I'm not talking collector's item, but new tool. Not Precious, but Worthy. But that info would absolutely blow a few marketer's minds, now wouldn't it?


Agree with every doggone word you've said, up until the last line. I, too, wish Agilent had inherited ACO instead of HP (which I said at the time).

The 6s may have come out during Carly's watch, but I am certain it was only a continuation of long-established market-driven decision-making.

Her "ilk", indeed, has been at the helm for a decade or so.

That she was a proven market-driven decision-maker convinced the other ilk to make her Head Ilk, rare for any ilk with bachelor Stanford degrees in medieval history and philosophy, a master's degree in business administration and a master of science degree from MIT's Sloan School.

It was her planning of Lucent's spinoff from ATT that convinced those ilk to get her for a company with major research ties trying to learn how to mass-market instead of concentrating on narrow sector marketing, no doubt.

Yeh, but ilk are sneaky. They team up with other ilk of their ilk, like Iain, who spent over 20 years at Motorola being an ilk of the sort who tried to make pagers and personal communications devices into mass-market things. Wonder how that worked out? And of course, since Iain NOW has "companywide responsibility for product generation and new product introduction processes", his little ilk-prints are just gonna be ALL over anything HP does in the future...

I, too, don't blame the marketplace for the 6s. I blame a marketing philosophy I don't agree with, a corporate slant that is right for some things but won't produce what *I'm* looking for. And a certain set of ilk IS following that philosophy, and has developed that slant as strategy. I disagree totally with the "reinvention" as it has occurred, mostly over its results-- which could have better handled the ACO by giving them to the narrow-market ilk at Agilent.

How many of the horribly-expensive 459 43's should they reserve in your name? ;-)

You might want to wipe that foam off your mouth, before someone shoots you like a rabid dog. I liked the posts both here and the one just a bit further down and cannot refute a single word.

I appreciate your comments, but I would like to know how this dynamic market analysis and accommodation and product reinvention has paid off for HP. Granted, I don't hang out with a lot of "people" in middle school, but I can't imagine that their focused marketing effort or "let's make a half-assed attempt to break into the education market" (what color face plate do you use) has paid off too well.

As far as I can see, HP has managed to disenfranchise their long time customers AND not really do very well in their new foray.

Who is to be held accountable (let's assume that we sit on the HP board of directors)? It seems like "the executives" have decided to place the blame for the lagging calculator business, in some sense, on the ACO's "frivolity" and "the ever changing marketplace" - not on fundamentally bad decisions made by their "ilk" at whatever point in the past. (Don't get me wrong - I do grant that the marketplace has changed - and I think that the PC has done more to harm the specialty electronic device market than anything else, BUT people still buy specialty instruments (like a real 'scope as opposed to a PCI scope) and pay good money for them, recognizing their quality and utility over all-in-one economy. Ultimately, it is a matter of price, and yes sign me up for at least two Agilent 43's.

Therefore, I don't understand why any of us (the disenfranchised) have to gain by pandering to them, we certainly don't have anything to lose. And don't worry, Iain won't be offended by the negative posts, because he never read them nor will he. I guess one could wonder why seemingly otherwise reasonable adults are spending good time whining about calculators, but we were affected profoundly by the products that this company used to make. I would do anything to have that kind of following in a business of my own - and there lies the fundamental problem with current HP management - they are unable to appreciate their former products to the same extent as we do.

Notice - my blood pressure is normal as I write this - I don't mean to sound ranty or rabid, and I do appreciate the quality and eloquence of Glynn's thoughts.

It occurs to me that behind the apparent demise of the HP calculator is exactly the shift in target market alluded to above:

HP used to build calculators for engineers, while TI & etc. built them for everyone. Now HP is focusing on the mass market as well.

I suppose that saying this only restates what has probably been obvious to most of you; but when viewed as a conscious, strategic corporate decision, it seems to explain a lot of otherwise random weirdness.

... and closer to facts. I'm looking for the reasons (as anyone in here) for this lot of otherwise random weirdness, and it seems they will arise soon...


Yeah, I might squirm a bit, might look for faults to disqualify it, but ultimately I might pay $350 for it. That's a lot of bread.

I've never made any attempt to price this out but I don't generally think $350 when I think of high-end Swiss Watches. Probably the bread and butter of Swiss watches is Rolex which turns out around a million watches a year starting at around $3000. Patek is the acknowledged king making significantly fewer watches with prices starting at around $9K and rising into the 5 and 6 figures.

There are some cheaper Swiss watches but one of their primary cost saving measures is to use generic movements made by ETA. This sort of thing probably wouldn't be available for the 42SW.

One of my favorite companies was Minerva.

This was a tiny 12 person 150 year-old company that recently resumed its watch production. Due to complete lack of advertising and having only one US distributor and 5 US stores they were able to sell a basic watch for about $1200. After doing this for about four years however they were never able to expand their business and bring back their other old watch lines or significantly increase production. They just weren't making enough money. An Italian conglomerate bought them and immediately doubled the prices on their watches.

But maybe you can make a 42SW for $350. It seems unlikely but it really depends on how many you can sell and just how fancy you get I guess.

I'll go along with your judgment that Pandering, maybe, is a bit in my stance-- because I never saw that Panic was any better. What we "gain" or "lose" is only measured in terms of personal dignity and in terms of what we choose to align ourselves with by our associations.

For me, that's enough to conclude that if inflammatory or derogatory words, tantrums and insults grace this board, I DO need to speak up when no one has, lest those be the lasting shadows cast on the whole-- a false coloration of otherwise fine and respectable folk (including me). There IS a way to express our frustrations, our concerns, our passions and our disgust without losing respectability.

And we *must* try to do that: you might believe in your heart that only thirty or forty people ever look into this little forum, but that's simply not true-- this place along with all our expressions is open to the world, now and forever, thanks to the Archives. 24-7-365. Mr. Hicks probably has >100 daily visitors who look at our messages but never speak. And THIS website, more than any other on the web, is the embassy for all those who love, use and collect HP calculating glory. We who type in our messages are leaving them as representations of what this community is thinking, feeling, IS.

Yes, we are disenfranchised. It feels terrible, I admit. We need not isolate ourselves further, by acting as jilted lovers or impatient children. This is the source of my attitude, which you might not agree makes any sense. I can only shape the way things go on around here the same way you can... by sticking up for your beliefs and defending them with your best intellectual arguments. If I pander, it will never be incumbent on you to do so, nor to accept it numbly.

If others throw tantrums, it's not generally any skin off MY nose, until it begins to paint a picture of this collective which is ugly, not representative of us in general, distorted. I hope you understand a little more what motivates MY emotional rantings, because I will add my perspective anywhere I feel I must... sometimes politely, sometimes with sarcasm, but always with the intention of straightening up what I see as a slanted picture. As you've read, I mostly try not to get personal unless the grievance is equally personal... hard when you have strong feelings, I know well.

What a great and well-considered message Michael... and in your observations on both Agilent and HP, I think I have found much accord. There is so much to the success and failure of a business endeavor, and the evaluation of it. But you do see that one form of management works on our behalf as users, and another cannot. You see the blinders on those in management who cannot imagine that any other than their chosen direction has validity.

We in this forum are the perfect ones to explore this. The basic things we need to discuss, from our standpoint, include Strategies: good AND bad. Management which fails or succeeds. Products which make it or don't. (If ya haven't guessed, I'd take a Agilent 43 in a heartbeat). Service, quality, price, features; past AND future.

Because (I believe anyway) SOMEBODY is going to do what the current HP may not.

And our consideration may someday be needed-- because the way is going to be rocky, and we are the sage and sane trail scouts they will need.

And in the meantime, it's not hard to imagine our own explorations, from the many perspectives we own, having meaning to our own lives.

Well, you're talking about my business, Dave !

Yes, there are a lot of small Swiss factories left, but most of them aree not profit makers and are bound to be bought by groups like Richemont, LVMH, Swatch Group or other smaller ones.

Just a word about the watches ranking : Patek is a gorgious brand, but is Rolex so ? I guess Bréguet and Blancpain do have a far stronger image. Zenith makes superb movements as well as Piguet.

Yes, ETA makes a lot of movements, not only for their group companies bu also for Rolex, Breitling, ... these movement are reputated for their quality and I thik it's a good thing that many watchmakers use them - they can propose fantastic watches at lower prices...

But I guess this is drifting away our preferred topic, HP calcs !

<i>HP used to build calculators for engineers, while TI & etc. built them for everyone. Now HP is focusing on the mass market as well.</i>

Yes, indeed, but they also made calculators for finance people, almost as soon as they did so for engineers (HP80)

And I'm sure many people who are not engineers but need number crushers also prefer HP calcs !

Thibaut (hi!)

you touched another point: financial calculators (very well mentioned, indeed). No financial calc user is claiming for this or that feature OR model, at least not as emphatic as we, technicians, engineers, are.

Let's just consider: for how long is the 12C being produced? And they will be for as long as business people buy them. Beyond being THE calculator for business, it's a good Xmas gift, a good prize for a contest, or a prize for the best salesman of the month... A gift to be used as a good tool, of course. And HP keeps the HP12C being produced almost unchanged, cosmetically speaking. AND IT IS RPN-BASED!!!

Please, users of the other financial calculators: I did not mention the others cause I do not know them much to reason about. Please, comments.


I mentioned Rolex for two reasons: 1) Because of it's heavy advertising and huge sales, for many people it is the only expensive watch they can name. 2) As a comparison of price and volume. Rolex sells about a million watches per year starting at about $3K. The average Rolex is perhaps $10K meaning annual sales of $10 Billion retail. (And many Rolex designs are decades old so development costs are low.)

Glynn suggested that he would pay $350 on a 42SW, and in another subthread, someone suggested that they might sell 459 of them providing $160K of total sales. It's hard to imagine any manufacturing company being interested in that, let alone one of HP's size.

I think ETA's movements are fine (as far as I know Rolex doesn't use them except in Tudors) but some high-end watch buyers will only accept an in-house movement. (It's very much like an Intel vs. a Custom CPU argument.)

However, my comment about ETA was that you could keep your watch price low by putting an off-the-shelf movement from ETA in it. There is no "ETA of calculators" making off-the-shelf HP-42SW circuit boards that HP could use to save money. This would have to have an in-house "movement" which could easily cost much more to develop than the total sales generated.

You make a very good point.

Also, nearly everyone can read and use a Rolex. Even and especially the top CEO's and anyone else interested in fine quality and a status symbol. But many at the top can barely use a scientific. In fact, THAT may be why they still make the 12c and dumped that other $h*t. Clears up my view of the Hp management.

In the financial/business/marketing mind, they still make the best calculators for business. The scientific user should have migrated to a PDA with the capabilities to do the more advanced number crunching the engineer may have need for. Heaven knows with their insight, that they all moved over for scheduling and spreadsheet work. However, for that general quick knock out the numbers, we will still make a 12c for our line of work just may be the thinking of the business sector making the call at Hp. I am reaching here, but the 12c is so readily available, and scientifics are not.

I ramble, rant & rave, as usual.

It still exists because a lot of people still buy it.

It's been rumored many times that HP wished that the 12C would die because of its use of obsolete and expensive technology. It appears that HP's solution was to redesign the internals without changing the externals. I typically see more 12Cs in use than all scientific calculators. Several of my coworkers gave me their HPs (mostly 41Cs) when they found out that I collect them. Typical story: I love it and couldn't just throw it out but it's been in a drawer since college. While many of my coworkers had fond memories of HPs, I never met one (besides me) who had purchased one since school.

a) Glynn says he will pay about 350$ for a 42SW. I agree.

b) Dave says that is not enough money for a company to work in such product. I agree.

c) Many examples of watches were discussed, some with hefty price tags. Let's concentrate in the Breitling range, just as an example.

d) HP-01 watches are still looked-for items, and prices always were high (even without RPN).


What price would we pay, if we could have some of the HP42 functionality (including RPN) in a HP-01 form factor? Catalogs, assignments and softkeys may reduce the need for many buttons; some MODES settings and programming should be done only via a linked PC. Some functionality could be left out, or even downloaded selectively by the user.

Would "someone" related to the watch industry :-) think about this idea?

I think prices could be sensibly higher than Glynn's figure, and perhaps there *are* some digital modules in the watch industry which could be custom-programmed, easing the burden of custom hardware design.

Then we will still need a HP12 to run a TVM model and calculate the installments for buying such $1000 watch, in monthly payments spread over a year or so... :-)


Being in the watches industry, the point is not so the price it would be sold but the quantity you should produce.

Only Swatch watches can afford many designs modifications (with not a single modification in the movement) as they are produced at least i hundreds of thousands units.

Such a watch could be produced by several brands I know (Rado ? Endura ? Tissot ? though I'm sure this is more a Casio business) provided they are sure to sell at least 100.000 units... Then we have to talk about the R&D on the specs for such a calc that would be dreadful.

I'm sorry, but I think this really is a dream. The comparison with the HP-01 is not realistic as the reason why the prices are so high is that it is a very rare item, even more rare to be found in a decent condition.

Well, I think I would take a 42SW.

I remember thinking, "the top model is going to get too cheap" after HP canceled the 71B and the new top machine was the 48SX.
The 71B had abt double the price of a 48SX.

The 71B even supported the Interface to test equipment (I own a 1630G HP-IL logic analyzer and the 3468A Digital Multimeter and the IL-IB interface).

BTW, I bought myself an IWC Fliegerchronograph some months ago and I really like it. Seems I'm a technology addict and mechanical watches are a sign for that, just like high-class calculators are.

Maybe I'd spend even more than Glynns $350 for a really great calculator with a good service organization behind it. Somehow I like owning a high quality product.

nice IWC you bought ! maybe you'd enjoy a Coaxial next time !

It was just a dream.


did I tell you that W&W made an HP-IL interface for the HP-48SX?
It consists of a special HP-IL to serial converter,
and a control library on the 48SX.



did I tell you that W&W made an HP-IL interface for the HP-48SX?

Hmm, can you still buy this somewhere, and does it work with the GX as well? Would be cool if you could get some of the IL devices to work with the 48.


Unfortunately, W&W doesn't produce it any more.
In fact, production of the interface stopped in 1992.
AFAIK, only a small amount of these interfaces were sold.
They were not cheap;-)

I made a port of the software part to the GX,
and it works quite well, but it's not perfect.
The main problem seems to be the hardware.
Of course it uses the HP-IL chip, but the surrounding
electronics, along with some custom firmware programming,
makes it difficult to build another unit.

Hmm. Since IL chips seem to be relatively rare,
what about using the hardware of the HP-71B IL module?

AFAIK this module connects directly to the Saturn bus,
and on the other side there's HP-IL;-)
Maybe the IL module's ROM routines could be used or adapted to work on the HP-48, since they were made for the same processor family.

Anyone who wants to give this idea a try?



There are some docs running around the www that contain HPIL specs, internals and the like. January 1983`s issue of the HP Journal has lots of basic info about the HPIL. Did you have access to these docs? What worries me is the protocol. As the HP48 does not have the basic IL instruction set, I believe you wrote them as a 48`s lib, and I guess User RPL has been of no use. Right?

If I am not wrong, there is an HPIL/RS232 adapter (converter?), but I do not know anything else about it besides its existence. Let me guess: do you have the HP82166A, HPIL Converter, composed by the pulse transformer, I/O connectors` panel and the IL Interface IC? This would be the key for implementing, alright

There is a very important point to be considered: many, many new controllers are far more powerful than the IL controller, so it's not impossible programming one of these controllers so it can emulate the IL controller. I still on the protocol again.

Well, if we have access to the protocol (SW and electrical signaling), emulate IL IC with a controller (BTW, Pavel Korensky has been working with ATMel controllers, and the ATMega series seems to be perfect for the job; Pavel, forgive-me not asking for permission prior to mention it), have an easy way to build the pulse transformer and connectors and (will you allow?) using your 48`s Lib with IL equivalent commands, chances are that it can be achieved.

I still would like to know how does the HPIL/RS232 converter work. If it is dummy, would your already existing LIB be able to drive it?

Please, comments, complements, any.


I don't know if it works with the std HP IL-RS232 converter,
but I could send you a copy of the lib,
and some info about it.




I do not have the HPIL/RS232 converter (I do not have any IL component, in fact), but I'd like knowing how does your lib work. I would not dare asking for the 'user RPL' list, but the basic explanations would be as fine. I believe that a technical doc with internal descriptions and IO protocol for the IL/RS232 converter would be of major importance.

I read again -briefly- a few docs I have about the HPIL and the custom IL IC used in the 82160A (HP41 IL Module) is, for known reasons, different of the commercial version. It already has the 41's XROM 29,xx set of functions as built-in among the IL processing itself. As mentioned, the HP71B (I don't have one, too...) has a different IL structure (Saturn bus based) and I think its philosophy is somewhat like the HP41's: all IL functionality plus Saturn bus interface. Another thing: is the commands set for the 71B built in the IL module OR it is a part of the OS itself?

I believe the RS232/HPIL converter for the HP48/49 is much easy and cheaper to be built (HW) today than it would be a few years ago. Resources available now are far more powerful and choices exist. What worries me is the fact that IL components are no longer being developed and developing new ones would lead to the creation of IL compatible interfaces (would HP get ILB3 back to business?) and IL-protocol managers. Something to reason about...

Please, let's keep this subject growing. And I suggest a new thread for this matter.