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Full Version: HP calculators: origin of prefix key labels f and g
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I am wondering about the motivation of HP developers to label the prefix keys of the RPN calculators in the 70s and 80s by the letters f and g. Obviously, the reason was not absolutely substantive as later angled arrows were invented instead.

In mathematics, f and g are common names for arbitrary functions. The first appearance of these named prefixes was on the HP-65, which had f, f^(-1), and g, as you can see in this very museum. I think HP took these letters from math - but that's just my personal view.

You are absolutely right.

I was a bit disappointed when they left the "f" designation off of the gold shift key on the HP-41C, but somehow I learned to cope. I was happy to see my old friends "f" and "g" again on the Voyager series.

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I am wondering about the motivation of HP developers to label the prefix keys of the RPN calculators in the 70s and 80s by the letters f and g. Obviously, the reason was not absolutely substantive as later angled arrows were invented instead.

I don't know the official reason, but I always assumed that since f and g were common names for functions (f(x), g(x)), HP used f and g as names for alternate functions.

Eddie

My high school buddy and I shared a certain amount of astonishment when we saw the "h" shift on the HP-67. This was surely the last word in computation! :-)

Bob

Now a better question - when did the practice of using f(x) and g(x) for functions originate? The earliest calculus textbook I have from late 1800s already used f(x) and g(x). Does this originate back to Sir Isaac Newton himself?

The notation f(x) for a function of x was first used by Leonard Euler, according to this book:

It all started with a gold key on the 45, so I take it as a reminicence to the classics. Other calculators like the 27S followed with a plain blue shift key for blue labelled functions.