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First the people reading this forum aren't really the ones I need to reach. I believe the biggest market for the 15C is among engineers. I have reached many through other forums and judging from the comments people leave on the petition most find the 15C about the best tool for the job to do quick calculations. Most people here are probably more like me, we love electronic gadgets, and the more powerful and more features the better. But not just any gadgets, we want quality products that serve a useful purpose. Everyday when most people need to preform a calculation they reach for a pocket calculator. Right now HP doesn't make a pocket scientific calculator. I sit in front of a computer for many hours a day, and I still prefer a calculator to using the computer for quick calculations. If I don't have a calculator handy my second choice is a calculator emulator on my PC. However where the 15C comes in the most handy, is when I am not near my computer and no calculator made today can match it's versatility. The fact is that HP is currently planning on making more calculators. It is obvious that they didn't do to well on the last one (33S). Saying we need 300,000 people to sign the petition before HP will take notice is ridiculous. If anywhere near that many people signed the petition the calculator division would be working on a new 15C as fast as they could. The signatures on the petition will never be more than a fraction of the number of calculators that HP would sell. I have been in contact with someone that works with the calculator planning division at HP and from talking to him I believe we can have a significant impact on the design of new calculators made by HP. While they may not make a new 15C, I would be willing to bet money they would build something similar.

Now for why it is going to be hard to get a lot of signatures on the petition. It has been a long time since the 15C has been made and not very many people have had the pleasure of using one. I also have not yet found a way to reach a significant portion of my target audience, engineers. I need to put together a survey to find out what people want in calculator and I plan on doing that soon. I think we will find that except for college students, the 15C fits what people want pretty well. I also believe HP would sell a lot more of them if HP and people in this forum would put a significant effort into dimpling the myths that RPN is hard to use, hard to learn and unnatural. My goal for the petition is to get 20,000 or more signatures. I believe this is attainable and I also believe that it is enough for HP to take notice. I'm not going away :)

Bring Back the HP 15C

I hope they don't F' it up with the color scheme of the 12C Platinum. What a joke!

It would also be a great disservice to bring the 15C out of retirement, if they don't put the same quality of workmaship in a new mode. If it is the crap like they put in some of their newer HPs they might as well leave it retired.

One of the issues for HP will be in the expense to duplicate / re-invent the HP-15C's firmware. As others have pointed out, it is likely that no one at HP has that knowledge any more.

Why not use your contact at HP to strike a deal? Have HP divulge whatever it does have on the HP-15C code base and offer that the HP Calculator enthusiast community port it to a modern calculator architecture in an open-source undertaking. I'd certainly be interested in being a part of that. I'm sure a lot of other folks would as well. HP could take the resulting code and build the 15C's successor from it. I think that would be very cool.

Surely there is a way for HP to protect whatever IP is involved.

While I'd dearly love to see a 15C-like calc or similar RPN calc (maybe w/some 16C + 42S features and a text display) I think you're making some fundamental mistakes in your assumption.

You're thinking like an engineer, not a businessman, and a fair of engineers are notoriously poor businessmen; good ideas only go so far:

(1) That an engineering market is actually worth pursuing.... there are very few engineers to make such a market esp for an item that realistically can't cost more than $50 (or it gets into price segment where it cannibalizes sales of 48/49 type calcs).

HP's calc division is a mere pimple on HP's financials. In fact I wonder about its relative profitability. By the time employee costs are considered I really wonder if HP will eventually keep on making calcs. After all, for similarly priced people, they could be participating in some other area w/fatter margins and less distribution costs. Sub-$100 consumer electronics is a nasty biz to be in; adding specialization to this makes it even worse.

All calc makers are primarily focused these days on the so-called 'educational' market. And given that so many math teachers and NCTM folks have gravitated to TI calcs, AOS, etc. HP let TI eat its lunch in this segment in the mid80s.
Being an 'engineering driven' company only gets you so far: sometimes you gotta rope in customers, too, to pay the bills.

Consumers unfortunately buy sizzle, not steak, many times. A 15C-like calc sitting next to a TI-8X or 33S in blister pack prob won't make the sale - and RPN will scare off folks. (Why do you think they put algebraic on 33S?)

(2) Comment about 15C firmware: co's with established software development practices (like HP) would likely be horrified at a 15C firmware emulation strategy. Why? Because there is no way for them to appreciably/fully understand the 15C firmware now that all Coconut people are gone from HP. (Hell, there's a good chance they prob don't even have the commented source code anymore!!)

And that's regarded as risky - they'd rather rewrite such 15C firmware from scratch in C and maybe a bit of assy, even though that problem really is a harder one, esp if you're gonna exactly mimic 15C behavior.

(3) HP midlevel management prob sees calcs as something that's a "fill-in" product until PDAs take over. Remember, HP/Compaq sells lotsa PDAs w/far higher margins than calcs, and it wouldn't surprise me if they sold as many PDAs as calcs!

All calc design will be farmed out to the Kinpos, et al.
Kinpo just ain't gonna wanna reverse engineer old HP Coconut firmware.

(4) The 200K-300K number might be low. It might be more like 500K, and require a lifespan of 2+million calcs sold to be worth developing these days.

Bill Wiese

San Jose

Considering the goals of OpenRPN, I certainly hope HP will consider the fact that firmware will be fully developed and under a GPL!!!

If not, I am even exploring the production of upgrade kits for older calcs. No matter how things eventually pan out, excellent quality RPN calculators are finally on the horizon again. I'm excited to see things such as Qonos, HP showing some effort to improve keyboards, etc. Things are finally looking up for what was once an endangered entry method.

Best Regards,
Hugh Evans
OpenRPN Project Manager

I shouldn't be reading this, because I said yea. ;-)

Anyway, if you're aiming at 20000 signers I do hope that in the meantime HP is keeping track of your countings to make up their minds and perhaps already preparing the reintroduction. I understand that timing is essential in business and that waiting too long may be fatal.

Apart from this, I think there are 2 options for a new 15C. Either a really new one with ALG and text display and and and... , but then only the size and layout remain. I think that wouldn't do for a commercial success.

Or an "old" one, identical to the original. Without any new features. If HP has archived the design, it could become a really cheap one. Some effort then may be made on supplying some extra's: firm pouch, application book, to name a few.

I hope HP will opt for the second choice. And after that, who knows, eventually, more Voyagers?

Hi, Chris;

first, I hope that my words written in this post were not read as bad feelings, instead my point of view. Please, if I let you think I don't support your site and/or idea, believe me it's exactly the opposite: I want the HP15C back too, even if it is exactly the same. I guess it is the most powerful stand-alone calculator of its class, other brands included. It would be better if it has more memory and/or a two-line display (showing real and imaginary parts simultaneously after pressing [f][(i)] in complex mode would be a great achievement, don't you think?), but the plain HP15C is perfectly fine.

Do you believe names collected worldwide to sign the petition would be a good idea? I guess some "foreigner" of us would be able to show (translate to) the petition in our own languages, making it easy to local users to sign it. This way, HP would understand that foreigners are signing something they are reading in their own languages, validating the petition elsewhere.

About showing RPN as "hard to understand". I'm a teacher, and some of my students use the HP12C. I showed them the 12C Platinum and told them that it has an additional Algebraic mode, that allows operations to be performed in one of both methods: 2 [ENTER] 3 [+] leads to answer, or 2 [+] 3 [=] leads to answer. Their question was the same: "Why? 2 [ENTER] 3 [+] is good enough!" Others comment: "After using the HP12C for a while, the other calculators with [=] key are harder to use again." You know what bothers me here in Brazil? Is the fact that the students go for the cheapest calculator available. These ones that bought their HP12C are attending Financial and Management classes, and they always buy an HP12C for their classes. Not that we, teachers, tell them they MUST buy an HP12C and no other, but we recommend the HP12C. When I'm teaching Electricity (complex numbers for AC studies), Electronics (numeric SOLVE and Integration are very welcome), Digital Electronics (there, an HP16C is also good, and I use mine in classes) and other number-based subjects, I ask for which calculators they have, take their manuals and I dedicate one whole class for teaching them how to use their calculators. Two good consequences: they "ask for more" ("How can I do this?", "How can I do that?") and they don't complain like "I can't use my calculator efficiently" or "I didn't understand the User's Manual". I'd like they all have a single RPN, like an HP11C or even an HP33S, or a powerful HP15C, so they would spend some of their time by developing programs, and I use myself as a reference: it forces your brain to go ahead. Unfortunately the HP calculators cost about 12 times more than the calculators they buy on the streets. And I cannot tell them that those calculators cannot be used, because they are no programmable or because they are not RPN. After concluding their courses and achieving their certificates (diploma), they will not care much for their calculators (any calculator) because they were not given a chance to have a top-quality model. When I tell them I have something around 40 HP calculators, they ask me "Why? What do you do with them all?" My best answer so is: "I learn how to use them and help as many people as I can to do the same." I'f I'm given the chance as well, I'd teach how to use them in a regular basis. When I was at the University, HP calculators were a very good sign. Now I guess that they are seen as curious, resourceful tools by the students. And you are completely, 100% right: we must show calculators as they actulaly are so they change their minds for their own, not because we want to, instead because they don't actually know what actual HP calculators "are made of". If HP only had a US$15/US$25 RPN model that was easy to find anywhere, I'd tell my students to buy it "as a starting unit" so they could learn RPN and how to use it efficiently. Later, after achieving professional skills, they'd be ready to go further and buy powerful units.

Time will tell. I'd love having a newly-designed HP15C, mostly if others are able to have their own themselves.

Let us know what we can do.


Luiz (Brazil);

Edited: 5 June 2004, 6:39 p.m.

Your revelations were very interesting, Luiz. Why do you reckon your student's buy calculators? I get the impression, from the comments posted on this and related subjects, that calculators are mostly irrelevant. I know that's heresy but stay with me.

The calculator (and the slide rule) used to be *essential* tools for most of the readers of this forum. Today they've been usurped by software on ubiquitous devices. The current generation of students in the pre-university through under-grad range only use calcs because they don't have the "cheating potential" of PCs and they don't have the time (or inclination?) to do it long hand on paper.

Because we grew up with calculators (I don't know about you but I didn't see a computer until I was in my 20's) and we now have access to tools like mathematica, we have a point of comparison. We can see all the advantages of a portable, robust calculating device. For the (young) student though, the calculator is simply a stop-gap until "cheating" is no longer an issue.

Young people are also desensitised to gadgets. Devices that to us would have been eye-popping and/or mind-boggling are routinely given away in packets of breakfast cereal. I suspect that there was a magnetism between calculators and us "oldies" simply because we could *own* them. Today, for less than the price of a 70's programmable calculator, I can buy a portable music player that will hold my entire CD collection or a communications device (aka cell phone) the size of a matchbox or a 5-mega-pixel digital camera. With all these things competing for their dollars, why would they bother to duplicate the (perceived) functionality of their computer?



We keep hearing this 300,000-unit figure. I'm sure there weren't that many HP-41's, even though that was a more complex model. After selling maybe somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand HP-75's, they went ahead with the HP-71 which was a much more complex project than all of these. How many of those did they sell? A few thousand max? Granted, they probably did lose money on that one, but I'm convinced it's because the marketing was grossly mismanaged. It was supposed to be for technical professionals; and yet of technical professionals, not one in ten knew it existed. Of those who knew it existed, not one it ten had any idea how much power it had (albeit partly thanks to the user groups).

As for tool-up costs, our company looked into a set of the double-shot keys in the late 80's, and found it to be a few thousand dollars IIRC. The lexan overlay NRE will be under 2K. The 12c case is already there, the FCC testing is just over $1K, and even the custom LCD doesn't bring the NRE to $15K yet. We're not talking about a million-dollar project here. By far the greatest part of the development cost would be software if indeed they threw all that out-- which I sort of doubt-- and they could take a short cut by getting copies of the HP-41 and -71 IDS and VASM back from the users.

Hello, Cameron;

your assumptions are perfectly clear for me and I agree with you and your analysis. If you read the post (in other thread) I refer to in my prior post (this thread), you'll see that part of what you wrote I pointed out, and you have gone deeper and faster, while I simply pointed them (some) out. I'll write some stuff here that's mostly based on my own observations and conclusions based in facts I saw and read about, so I'd invite those who do not agree with to expose their own view. Mine is not intended to be final, I may fail in my conclusions.

About calculators in Brazil and other countries. I teach classes at the local University and I'll tell you that teaching today is far from teaching at the time I was a student. I'm 42 Y.O., and I firstly saw a personal computer when I was about 20 as well, but I guess my "20's" are different of yours in terms of absolute calendar: it was in 1982/1983. In Brazil , at least in Petrópolis (Rio de Janeiro) we did not have a computer lab at the university till 1986, if I am not wrong. 8 PC XT running D.O.S. 3.3... And I remember that my HP41C with one memory module was still something to be proudly shown!

At that time, a teacher's word was enough to make a complete class to be in silence. Today, there's always a bargain involved. If you do not offer what they (supposedly know what they) want, you, as a teacher, are excluded. No place for a teacher inside the classroom that are not willing to transform a classroom into something beyond knowledge, communication, interesting subjects and interesting exposition. And we must survive to this with dignity, because if you "lower your shields", they (students) will also reach you in a demonstration of weakness. Sorry, this is not the subject.

Now I teach at the local university that's not the one I was graduated, and the "reality" is also different. Here we have two computer labs running LINUX (RedHat distribution) and MS Windows XP® in both of them. 28 computers total count, all 800MHz CPU with 128 MBytes RAM, 20GBytes HD. And no computer in any classroom. The classrooms are for plain classes, only. And I'd not be reasonable enough getting all students to the labs anytime I want them to perform computations. That's when I tell them that they'd better buying their calculators (a suggestion, not an imposition), but except for those attending financial related classes, I suggest them to buy the best Scientific calculator they can afford buying. Close to Araguari there's another town, Uberlândia, and their reality is somehow different: many universities, many different courses, many social realities as well. I know many students have their HP12C, PDA's, HP48GII, HP49G and other personal computing devices.

But in all cases, I can tell you that they are not conscious about what you mentioned: all the advantages of a portable, robust calculating device. For the (young) student though, the calculator is simply a stop-gap until "cheating" is no longer an issue.

Here it's not different, but while some computing gadgets are easily found and easy to buy in some places, final prices in here (and other countries) make some of these gadgets a "wish" instead of a possibility of acquisition. They are sold here, of course, but not necessarily to those who'd use them as computing-aid devices. There's still a "tech-appeal" here that turns these gadgets into some sort of "pheromone" that non-tech guys like to show... off. And this is market, sales... unfortunately.

Maybe it's a bit off-topic, but some background helps understanding other "point of view".


Luiz (Brazil)

Wlodek's book puts the minimum number of HP-41Cs sold at 1.5 million but that was in an earlier era when HP was a smaller company and calculators were much more "high tech" and sold for a lot more money. An HP-41 cost about $800 in today's dollars and was just the start of a typical person's expenditures. Add ROMs, RAM, an HP-IL loop and some other gadgets and you could be well into multiple thousands of today's dollars.

The 12C has sold in the millions, which is why they keep it around. (Even so, they've come close to cutting it several times.)

HP had revenues of 76 billion dollars last year. If you want to get a company excited over a small NRE to sell twenty thousand units, you'd do better to find someone a lot smaller I think. In my experience, when you propose products that are much less than 0.1% of corporate revenues it's just hard to get traction.

Sony just announced that it's getting out of the PDA business in the US and Europe. I think they were doing in the 500K units per year and at relatively high prices.


It's real simple. You call HP and place an order for a considerable number of calculators (10,000 units or even more). The more units you order the more of HP's attention, cooperation, and compliance you get. That's all there is to. You put the money down, you get the order, and HP makes a profit. We get what we want and HP gets what it wants -- income!

Money talks!


Also, HP even raised the price of the 12C to try to ease people over to their newer, faster, more powerful and often cheaper follow-on calculators. But buyers wouldn't budge. That's why the 12C is still around and the 15C isn't.

All good points, Bill; but I think that the prospects of the source being around - or at least able to be regenerated - are better for the 15C than for most HP calcs. Wasn't there a west-coast academic involved in the development, who published a few papers on the algorithms involved? If so, mightn't he and other external consultants still have copies of, if not the complete source, at least some fragments?


--- Les Bell


When I see my daughter studying for her exams in civil engineering she uses Mapple on her laptop. A calculator (TI 83+) comes only in the second place (and when she sees my "clumpsy" new HP 49G+ she even is not interested in HP and she would more likely want a new TI 89 Titanium perhaps).
Why: first it took her a lot of time to master Mapple and then you have to use it frequently.Then it is much more powerfull (seeing 3D images in colour rotating) and faster. I believe this helps in understanding the problems.
But they are also sending mapple files among students to compare their solutions, to give explanation.They are downloading solution files and exercises. they use copy and paste... Talk on the forum while working with Mapple.
They save their files on a floppy disk or memory stick and can use them anywhere at the university or on a friends PC. So it is much more adapted towards their normal way of working. I think this is a problem for the calculator market. Perhaps the new Qonos (?) project will help to fill the gap between PC's and Calculators. Yust my toughts.

I don't think I am getting my point across. I don't care about college students, or college. Heck I didn't care about college when I was in college. I think we can all agree that college is not at all like the real world. As I sit here in the real world, and want to find how many feet of 4 inch PVC I need to hold 50 gallons of water, I don't run Maple or Mathematica, and I certainly don't run derive, I pickup my calculator. If I want to know how many gallons per minute of hydraulic fluid flow I need to spin a 4.92 cubic inch displacement hydraulic motor at 2300 rpm, I am going to reach for my calculator. There are many times I want to find answers to similar questions in a place where a computer is not available and not practical, and where the best tool is a small durable calculator like the 15c. The questions I need answers to have to get much more complicated than the examples I just gave before I will want or need to use a computer to answer them. Am I the only one here who uses a calculator like this? Did anyone read my new argument on my site as to why it was the right thing to stop making the 15C in 89 and why it is the right thing to start making it again now?

WARNING! Off topic rantings to follow. . .

With all this talk about college and students I have to digress from the topic for a minute. I didn't like college that much, it was really the fact that I needed to go to college that I didn't like and the more time I spent at college the less I liked it. Here is the reason. If I see someone with a college degree from almost any college, it tells me one of several things about the person that has it. One, they learned how to cheat really well. Two, they went to a lot of effort to find incompetent, sympathetic, bleeding heart pushover part time instructors that would give them a passing grade (I was amazed at how well one particularly manipulative person I met at college was able to do this). Three, some combination of the previous two. Forth, they did the work and learned a few things while they learned how to learn and actually earned that degree they have. I find that the people in the Forth category are a small minority. <getting off soap box>

Chris W

Hi, Ljad;

interactions like these are A MUST when student's development is the issue. For me, if results are the goal, the instrument itself is not the first target. I know MathLab, Mapple (did not use) and Mathematica (is it spelled correctly?) and I know what you mean. Mostly because their needs are different of ours while they are students. Let's face the facts: our fathers saw us learning things they did know taht exist. We are having the chance to, at least, understand and reason over what our children are doing at school. When we were using calculators while some of our fathers could not even understand what were slide-rules for, we were using sort of "alien", "unknown" technology. Of course, some of these fathers were the ones bringing that technology to the living souls, and this words do not apply to them. Because of technolgy growing, our kids MUST learn how to use graphics environment in a computer in order to survive and have better jobs. In our time (again: I'm 42 Y.O.), using computers was a choice, for Engineers, not necessarily a must (at least here in Brazil). If you don't know how to use a 3D SW, how to draw with a CAD somehow and how to scale, you're in trouble when Civil Engineer is your area. And these are taught in school today.

When I was a student in 1979 (first year), no one recommended me to buy a slide rule. I saw none amongst classmates. I saw one teacher showing his old fellow to his students and I got closer, and he showed me how to compute logs to five digits. It took him about twenty minuts with complete explanations, and about one minut by his own. He was considered a fast user.

One minute to compute log with five digits mantissa.

How many logs with five decimal places a calculator can compute today in ten minutes? Which computing device exists today that makes us laugh of calculators when compared them both while computing logs? It seems to me that the story goes repeating again. And I feel as if I'm that teacher with his slide rule, but now I understand him.

No conlcusions from my own about this.


Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 6 June 2004, 11:44 a.m.

You should try to get a job in HP marketing. Then you could apply your marketing skills to the mountain of proprietary data that HP already has plus you could create focus groups and studies to see whether HP really should recreate your beloved calculator. Until then, it's just typical Internet "I know better than anyone else and I can prove it by typing stuff."

I haven't read your site. I see you pushing it so often here that I instinctively resist going there. But that has nothing to do with whether I would like to see a new 15C, which has nothing to do with whether HP should make one. I don't think you understand that distinction but I think going to work at the company and being in charge of making such a decision would help you see it.

The 15C is my favorite calculator, I don't know where you got beloved from. It should be obvious from my recent posts that I would be just as happy, if not more so, with an improved version of the 15C. What I really want is a POCKET size RPN calculator, if the 33S would fit in my pocket, I would probably buy one and be reasonablely content, but it won't fit in my pocket. There is a market for a pocket size scientific RPN calculator. You don't need market research or focus groups to tell you that, it is obvious (I won't go into why). It may not be a big market and it may be too small for HP to bother with, but some will. I also don't believe that all the market research in the world could make an even remotely accurate prediction of how big the market is. Sure it could tell you that the market is at least X, but there is no way of knowing how much that market will grow once the product is in the hands of the public. I can guarantee you that no one at HP, or anywhere else, had any idea that the 12C would last for over 20 years. By the way has anyone else noticed that the last three 15C's on ebay went for $405, $385, and $405? Some one out there likes these things even more than I do.

People keep talking about the huge production costs of making a new calculator. This is 2004 not 1980. We don't need to design and build a new proprietary processor, or come up with clever, efficient assembly routines to find the sin of a x. That stuff has been done by countless people on countless platforms, there is no reason or need reinvent the wheel. You can buy an off the shelf processor and off the shelf display, add the keyboard from a 12C, a few thousand man hours of programming and some slave labor from China ;) and you have a new calculator. Except for the slave labor from China, that is almost exactly what is going on at OpenRPN.org, what they are working on is much more ambitious than what I want, but it will certainly fit my needs, I plan on being one of the first to get one. The Hydrix Qonos is interesting too. I think people try too hard to merge two different products into one. Kind of like the flying car that has been tried over and over, you either end up with something that doesn't fly very well, doesn't drive very will, or more likely neither drives nor flies very well. Or in the case of this thing, can't fly at all. But now I am starting to ramble so I will shut up.

Chris W

Yeah if HP could reintroduce the HP-15C and not tell anyone then they could probably sell five a week on ebay for $400. But if word gets out they'll need a new marketing strategy. By the way those were the last 15Cs described as mint/superb. I've seen mint HP-65s top $2000. However if you just want any pocketable RPN calculator then now I'm getting you. I don't know whether it makes any sense to HP but make it a 42S and I'm with you in wanting it :-)

Yeah if HP could reintroduce the HP-15C and not tell anyone then they could probably sell five a week on ebay for $400. But if word gets out they'll need a new marketing strategy.

I didn't mean to imply that HP could sell them for that much, I was just commenting on how high they have been getting lately. I got one in mint condition a few weeks ago for a little less than $250, it just didn't have a manual with it. In any case I think instead of 5 a week for $400, 100 a week for $40 would be more like it.

Chris W

I’ve never owned a 15C, but I’ve had an 11C for nearly 20 years. The 11C still works perfectly, and it has sentimental value, but it sits in a drawer most of the time. Why? Because I eventually got a 48GX, and for real-world problems it’s replaced the 11C as my calculator of choice.

I readily admit that my 48GX is much bigger, heavier, and uglier than my elegant, pocket-sized 11C. And I will concede that some of the 48GX’s features, like graphing and computer algebra capabilities, may have limited real-world relevance. But some of its other advanced features, like the multilevel stack display, the unit support, the equation solvers, and the I/O ports, have real-world value that an 11C or 15C can’t match.

It’s true that a calculator may be better than a PC for problems like the ones in your post – but the best calculator for the job is one that supports units, like the 48 or 49. On a 48GX, for example, your PVC pipe problem would be solved by dividing 50_gal by pi*2_in^2, then adding 0_ft to force a conversion from _gal/in^2 to _ft. No conversion factors required. Sure, you could also solve this problem on an 11C or 15C, but only if the applicable conversion factors were looked up or memorized. Why not use a calculator that supports units for calculations that involve units?

Over the several months, there has been an experiment regarding the potential marketability of old HP models to professionals. In August 2003, NCEES announced that the HP 48 and 49 would be banned on the April 2004 professional engineering and surveying exams. Thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of exam candidates were forced to scramble for old RPN models that met the NCEES criteria. The most readily available alternatives were the 32S/32SII, 11C, and 15C (a few people managed to get a new 33S, but this model was not widely available in time for the April 2004 exam).

The reaction to this situation (which has been well documented on many forums, including this one) has been overwhelmingly negative. There is widespread resentment over the perceived downgrade in calculator technology. The reality is that the 48 has been the de facto standard for engineering calculators over the past 15 years or so. Older models – including the 15C – just don’t meet professional expectations any more.

You think it's obvious that there is a market for a pocket-size RPN calculator. Unfortunately, it also seems obvious that HP doesn't agree, since they haven't marketed anything of the kind since the 11C and 15C were discontinued in 1989.

Your best bet might be to try another company. How about Aurora? They've done a reasonable job of copying the 12C with their FN-1000, so presumably they could copy the 15C as well. Plus they can sell their products for much less than HP; an FN-1000 is only $24.99 at Outpost.com, which is only a fraction of the cost of an HP 12C ($69.95).

Presumably Aurora is a much smaller and hungrier company than HP, and would be satisfied with much lower sales volume and much lower profit margins. So they might be willing to sell a 15C copy even if the market was small (which I suspect it would be)

You think it's obvious that there is a market for a pocket-size RPN calculator. Unfortunately, it also seems obvious that HP doesn't agree, since they haven't marketed anything of the kind since the 11C and 15C were discontinued in 1989.

That is not entirely accurate, the 42S, 32S and 32SII could all be considered pocket calculators, though not as well fitted as the 10C series. Just because HP no longer makes a pocket scientific calculator doesn't mean they don't think there is a market for it. It could be that they just think the market is too small, or maybe they just don't care. Since in the big picture that is now HP you would need to look close to see any calculators. My intension is to make either HP or someone else care enough to make a pocket scientific RPN calculator.

In regards to your other post about the 48 series. I do love the units on my 48GX, but I still use my 15C more. For the calculation you sited though, that is a common one for me so I already know that there 231 cubic inches in a gallon. If you look at my other posts what I would really like to see is a new calculator that starts with the 10C form factor, lengthens it ever so slightly to add another column of buttons, increase the display to 2 lines and much longer with a dot matrix display, add menus and text the way the 42S did, and add the unit conversion/calculation features from the 48 series. We have been making calculators bigger, better and faster for a long time. I believe that was the right thing to do, but I also believe that it is time to reexamine the way calculators are used out side of college, and take a bit of a step backwards.

Yes I know it has a 7 segment LCD display, but making it dot matrix with the cad software I was using, makes the file too complex and slow to work with, the two rows of 16 digit 7 segment LCD was bad enough.

$200K a year at retail? Total? I believe that would amount to the worst selling HP calculator of all time. Did I misunderstand you?

I'm confused.

You say you want a pocket-sized RPN calculator. Your definition of "pocket-sized" apparently includes the 32S, 32SII, and 42S. But there isn't much difference between these older models and the current-model 33S. Based on the available specs, the 33S is only 0.35 inches longer than a 32SII, and basically identical in width, depth, and weight. So why isn't the 33S "pocket-sized" ?

Your website says "Bring back the 15C". But now you're proposing a new design entirely -- something like a 48G, minus the graphing, in a 15C-like form factor. Nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, because the size and weight of the 48G is its biggest drawback. However, this is not a 15C. It's a new design, and it would likely be far more expensive to develop than it would be to simply recycle the old 15C.

Although this proposed model would be attractive to many professionals (including me), I doubt that HP (or any other major calculator manufacturer) would pursue it, simply because it would have little appeal in the education market. You've made it clear that you don't care about this market, but I'm afraid that HP (and all other major calculator manufacturers) care a lot.

In the US, about 4 million students enter the 10th grade every year. And about 60,000 students graduate with a BS in engineering. Notice how the latter market is only about 1.5% as large as the former. HP needs to succeed in the education market -- the professional market may be too small to sustain their calculator division. If they can't sell to students, then they may very well stop selling calculators altogether. So don't knock the education market -- it may be HP's last best hope.

Edited: 7 June 2004, 1:39 a.m.

Could you kindly squeeze in the buttons vertically
and introduce a new row of keys.
I want a hp 15C+16C => either 17C (using OR in binary) or 31CC ;-)

Your website says "Bring back the 15C". But now you're proposing a new design entirely -- something like a 48G. . .

I don't know how you got that idea. The ONLY feature I want to take from the 48 series is the Unit conversion/calculation. You could say I am looking for a 42SII in the 15C form factor. I meant to indicate that while the 42S could be considerd pocket size, it pushes the limit, and the 33s clearly goes beyond the limit. It is wider, and the 42S tapers in thickness to .42". From what I have read, the with the plastic cover on, the 33S is a lot tighter in the pocket than the numbers on the website indicate. Combign that with the lack of quality and poor design, and it makes the 33s something I wouldn't even consider.

"Combign that with the lack of quality and poor design"

and you havn't even used one? The V keyboard is the only thing going against it as a low end scientific.

The V keyboard is the only thing going against it as a low end scientific.

It has the V keyboard and the lack of a full-size ENTER key in the right place. Either of those things alone is enough to disqualify it for me.

Did I misunderstand you?

Yes! I didn't mean that to be taken literaly, I just meant that I thought it should sell at around $40 and at a lot higher quantity. Your 5 a week at $400 would be only $104K a year.

I have also read several posts that say the software leaves a lot to be desired as well.

Chris W

Not true. The v-shaped keyboard is not to grand. Also, you forgot to mention the shadowy LCD screen and the tiny little decimal point. Oh, and the quasi-scroll button near the LCD.

I have used the HP33s; bought it a Fry's and returned it the next day. Bought a used 11c the next day. HP could have gotten it right.

That's what we need in order to order 10,000 units!


But there isn't much difference between these older models and the current-model 33S. Based on the available specs, the 33S is only 0.35 inches longer than a 32SII, and basically identical in width, depth, and weight. So why isn't the 33S "pocket-sized" ?


I disagree. I own all three types: 11c/12c/15c; 32s/20s/17bii/10b; 33s. There is no doubt: the 33s is too big for my pocket--and I'm 6 feet 200 lbs. If I take it out of its case, yes, I can put it in my pocket---but it is noticeably big----the change from voyager to pioneer is noticable, and the change to the 33s is even more so in actual experience. Of course I do carry the 48gx in my coverall chest pocket when I need it enough!

It is interesting that "miniaturization" has carried on to the extreme with phones, to the point where they are actually *too* small to work correctly (the gain on the mics is too high, because you cannot put your mouth right to them--thes leads to lots of background noise being picked up; you cannot cradle them between cheek and shoulder etc) whereas with calculators, we have seen "supersizing" going on! It is all bass-ackwards from a useability/usefulness standpoint!

The craziest thing is that at the (low) price of all these devices these days, there is no reason not to have more than one calculator--a big one for the desk, a small one for your pocket, even another one for your exams.....

one day I had an experiment to conduct on a ship---and I had some useful programs on one of my 32sii's and realized I didn't have enough memory for another program---so I just took another one with me! (Time is money so you want to be prepared---be able to adjust things efficiently and fast on the fly when needed with no surprises etc---that's getting your money's worth out of the calculator. BTW the laptop goes too but it does not walk the deck with me! And the batteries *always* die on those da** things when you need them most.).



Hi Anon,

I am glad the 33s exists. I bought one (and lost it already but that's another story!).

But it is a shame that is was not properly worked out. There are so many near misses with its design. I have posted here about them before, and at comp.sys.hp48.

A number of limitations in the 32sii were not removed and could have/should have been.





Best regards,

Bill Platt

Edited: 7 June 2004, 2:36 p.m.

That was me and it was a joke. The argument that this widget sells for a fortune on ebay so they should bring it back has been applied to just about everything. We even had a discussion once about how complicated the world would be if no one ever stopped making anything. :-) <-- I guess I should have put one of those on the prior post too - sorry.

Seriously though I think the fact that you doubled my joke would be worth reflecting on. I'm going to leave it at that.

That's a misleading charge. It's true that the firmware of the 33S is not optimal; it can't take full advantage of the expanded memory in this model. And yes, there has been a lot of griping about this limitation. But even so, the 33S still has far more available memory for programs and equations than any other entry-level HP calc (such as the 11C, 15C, or 32SII).

The 33S has about 31,000 bytes of memory. But it has a relatively limited number of variables and labels (like its direct ancestor, the 32SII). In practice, the 33S will run out of variables and/or labels long before all 31,000 bytes can be used. So the effective memory size for progams/equations is probably more like 3,000 to 5,000 bytes. For example, the commercial "Survey Stakeout" package for the 33S is about 5,000 bytes in size.

Is this a problem? Well, it's certainly not ideal. But in terms of programmability, the 33S still a huge improvement over the 32SII (384 bytes) or the 11C (281 bytes) or even the 15C (448 bytes).

In other respects, the firmware of the 33S is similar or identical to that of the 32SII, which was a well-respected and successful model.

I don't have a 33S (haven't even seen one yet) so I can't really evaluate its pocketability. The published specs indicate that it is only 0.35 inches longer and 0.05 inches wider than a 32SII, which doesn't seem like much difference.

For what it's worth, HP certainly thinks that the 33S is pocket-sized. Their recent 33S press release, at http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2004/040420c.html , boasts that the 33S is "a shirt-pocket-sized unit weighing only 119 grams (4.2 ounces)." Online vendors routinely advertise the 33S as pocket-sized.

Any 33S owners care to comment on its pocketability, particularly relative to a 32SII or 42S ?

Pocketability: I wouldn't put it or any calculator in my pocket. I have enough problems with what's in my pocket protector falling out whenever I bend in the slightest. My 33S does, however, fit neatly into a briefcase's calculator pocket. What it doesn't need is a hip holster.

I didn't buy it for pocketability, though, I bought it for PE-exam-ability...

BTW, I got my Business 2.0 refund check the other day (if you buy a 33S you can either take the free subscription to the magazine or request a $9.99 refund, I did the latter).

Yo Fubar!

Do you remember how long they are offering that deal? I lost my 33s---and would like to get $10 back on the next one---but I didin't make a copy of the business 2.0 offer, so don't remember how long it is going.

BTW I got my rebate check yesterday, too.



The 33S is not, in my opinion, "pocketable" (is that even a word?). It is too large in nearly every dimension.

Of course, the 32S, 32SII, 42S, etc., are also too large to comfortably put in your pocket.

The 11C, 15c, 12C are small enough, and correctly shaped, to fit just about perfectly in the pocket of a button-front shirt (I don't think anyone is really talking about putting one in their pants pocket, are they?).

However, I do not "pocket" ANY of my calculators since that fateful day when my 11C slipped out of my shirt pocket and plunged into a sweage pump station wet well as I leaned over the edge to get ahold of a float switch. That was about 14 years ago and I haven't put a calculator in my shirt pocket since (by the way, after some serious clean-up in the laboratory of a wastewater treatment plant, it was brought back to life, and it still works to this day).

Any of them (even more than one of them at once) fit very nicely into my briefcase.

Take care.


I once spoke to Chris Wallin from ACO about bringing back the 42S. And he said it would be possible if they got an order for 100,000.
Cost price would be about $50 [guess] for calculator in non retail brown box. That would lead to an overall cost of around 5M. Any one with that resource and willing tio take the chance?

Of course "pocketable" is a word. It was coined by Japanese transistor radio salesmen, who wore custom-made shirts with extra-large pockets to ensure that their products would fit.


Maybe HP should change the coupon that comes with the 33S. Instead of a magazine subscription, they could offer a coupon for a free shirt with an appropriately sized pocket

Edited: 7 June 2004, 4:41 p.m.

I think they're good through June of 2005.

Iqbal says that HP would have been willing to restart
the HP42S line for an order of 100,000. I believe it
was just 10,000 as they already had the production
line, just not enough incentive to produce a large

Restarting HP-15C production is much more difficult,
even though a 12C production line exists. I too talked
with Chris Wallin about this and his point was that
restarting a product after years means that it has to
be certified again in every jurisdiction it is sold
under (all those CE marks, 871 numbers, and so on).

The 1.5 million HP-41s sold mentioned in my book
comes from a different time, as others have already
mentioned on this thread. Just the same, I'll bring
an HP-15C with me next time I talk to some of the HP
calculator team :-)


Wlodek wrote:

"I'll bring an HP-15C with me next time I talk to some of the HP calculator team"

Fine. Do you think they'll recognize it ? And they *DO* talk !? Amazing !

The current "HP calculator team" (if such a thing does exist) wouldn't know a quality calculator if it hit them hard in the face.

Their motto must be GIKO: "Garbage In, KinHPo Out".

Best regards from V.

Edited: 8 June 2004, 10:31 a.m.

If I put the 33s in the 32sii case (with a little difficulty), it fits in my shirt pocket.

The problem is the case, not the calculator.

However, I use the 33s case (out of my pocket) since it protects better.

Believe it or not, this question is 100% serious: Would anyone be interested in buying a shirt if it had a long pocket to hold 42/32s sized calculators? If yes, would you prefer it to have pen loops?

We're actually considering such things as merchandise from OpenRPN, so your opinion is greatly appreciated.

The pocket should be on the left side
so there is an additional benefit:
tha calculator will protect your heart.

Any pen loops or other stuff should be on the right side.

While I cannot confirm the source, I remember vaguely that, somewhat before the time of the HP 35 introduction, Bill Hewlett spent sometime in a hospital due to a minor accident (sports, skiing?). He used some of this forced rest time to look at this project, and became very interested about it.

It was told that he insisted about the importance of designing the upcoming portable scientific calculator (i.e.: HP35, as said before) to fit his shirt pocket, setting a form factor criteria which had to be met.

Indeed, the HP Journal article about the HP 35 was titled "The Powerful Pocketful", as a possible clue to such influence.

So, the HP 35 (and the following Classics) should be considered "pocketable".

Consult the OED. It has its origins in the early 18th century.


So, the HP 35 (and the following Classics) should be considered "pocketable".

For me, the slim Casio calculators of the 80's like the fx-4000p are REALLY pocketable. And my dear 15c.
Pioneers, too large.
Hp33s, toooo large.

Raul L

. I own all three types: 11c/12c/15c; 32s/20s/17bii/10b; 33s. There is no doubt: the 33s is too big for my pocket--and I'm 6 feet 200 lbs. If I take it out of its case, yes, I can put it in my pocket---but it is noticeably big----the change from voyager to pioneer is noticable, and the change to the 33s is even more so in actual experience.


...whereas with calculators, we have seen "supersizing" going on!

A pity. Do you remember the 80's slim Casio calculators?

And that is another big + for the 15c size as the absolute cutoff in size for a pocket calculator. That (and lack of real I/O) is my big gripe about the Hp42s. It is just a 1/2 in (1 cm) to damn tall.

The Hp48G is a great desk calculator, but hey, I could also use a computer at my desk. Yeah, I use my 48G a lot at my desk because I like the keyboard and access to math functions via direct entry (over memorizing lots of keystrokes for my PC). But my 48G doesn't really travel off my desk. My 42s goes everywhere, but I would like it better if it were just a bit smaller ie the same size as a 15c.

Hi Raúl,

yes, you mean the little tiny silver metal ones? I always thought that an RPN version on that physical platform would be really cool. I would like to find one of those in working condition.

Actually, my boss just retired his early 80's TI-30, which was also silver metal and very small--it was one ofgthe ones that used to come in a little vinyl booklet. He replaced it with a new TI-30, wich has a sliding cover. He is a bit disappointed---it is much larger, and he says the tactile feedback was better on the old one----so even among TI users there is a sense of this:^)

Best regards,


I believe I have a Ti-30 (who wouldn't, but I mean Ti's first LCD Ti-30). And it still had the tactil type feedback of the earlier LED versions, along with the notorious keyboard bounce. So nothing lost there by my count. Still a sorry calculator no matter how you punch the buttons. That is what made me an Hp fan(antic). My first Hp49G+ reminded me so much (and not fondly) of my Ti calculators.

Just a bit of input, whether wanted or not.

Yes, Bill: metal and also vinil folder. This is one of the most advanced. (But the 15c is better, I think)

Edited: 10 June 2004, 1:39 p.m.

That is exactly the calculator my wife purchased when I bought my Hp15c. She loved that little calculator and would not have ever parted with it (she used it for years and I still have it wrapped up and stored away) except her manager felt she should use something else while at work. He offered to pull something from stock to replace it. But her own ethics made her feel compeled to buy a new calculator.

She then bought an Hp27s and never looked back.

The 4000P has the nice classic metal case, but the later plastic 4800P is better with 4 lines on screen and 4500 bytes available.
If you like beautiful metal tiny marvels (even at the cost of non-programmability), here is Casio's proposal :


I vote for not believing in a HP15C come-back (however interesting it might be).

Hi GE,

Casio FX-98 is exactly the one I remembered---amazing!

Now, if only I could find one!



I believe the real reasons why students bought cheap calculators are as followed. First the cost of college now is so high that the price of a calculator is just a drop in the bucket so affordability isn't an issue here. The main reason is that students today see the calculator as the neccessary evil, something that they have to have for the classes, so they just want to get whatever to get them through the classes. Back in our time we (at least many of us) saw our calculators not only as useful tools in and out of the class we also saw them as toys that we loved to play with. So we would save money somewhere and spent the greatest amount of money we could to buy our calculators.

...we also saw them as toys that we loved to play with.

What you say remember me... myself: I see calculators like pretty toys to play with since 1982, when I was 16.

Raul L

It seems to me that the story goes repeating again. And I feel as if I'm that teacher with his slide rule, but now I understand him

Just the title: are we dinosaurs? :-(


Edited: 14 June 2004, 11:49 a.m.

Hi, Luiz:

Luiz posted:

"I know MathLab, Mapple (did not use) and Mathematica (is it spelled correctly?)"

"Mathematica", yes. "Mapple", no. It's "Maple" :-)

"One minute to compute log with five digits mantissa. How many logs with five decimal places a calculator can compute today in ten minutes?"

It's not the quantity of logs that matters, but the *quality* of said logs.

Seems to me you benchmarked your poor HP48/49 to see how many logs it would produce in ten minutes and naturally enough, after watching so many logs you can't see the wood for the trees. Perhaps they're maples ? :-)

Best regards from V.


Hello, Valentin;

you're "tha" man! Thank you for your always welcome corrections; Maple is noted!

About logs... you see, I know you understand it, but I'm sure others may need some background (not exactly regular contributors in here...). When you asked for "quality" I guess it means both precision (number of CORRECT digits) and speed. And I guess how many FLOPS can be measured in a pocket calculator.

BTW, I think that anyFLOPS should be followed by processor clock, system arrangement, etc. It's like telling an automobile (?) runs many mph without considering its engine specs, design, etc. If not, it's an empty measurement... Am I right in these considerations?

Regards from Brazil.


Edited: 14 June 2004, 11:46 p.m. after one or more responses were posted

On logs:

If I use my 15c to compute logs, for the purposes of figuring annual rate of return (like, "I bought it in 1970 for $100, and sold it for $1000; what's the annual rate of return?") and then with the answer, I fill the stack and multiply the beginning purchase by the requisite n, I get a number whiuch is *almost* the ending point. On the 15c, it is off by about 2 parts in the 9th decimal place, whereas in the pioneers/charlemagnes, it is off 3 parts in the 12th decimal place. Incidentally, if I use simple star/end numbers which make simple logs in base 10, and compare resultes to those in base e, the base 10 results are slightly better--as one would expect--as there is no rounding in the 1st parts of the problem.

Just htought it is interesting how for most things, you never even see these efects, but occasionally precision is visible.




A lower end model, but cute nevertheless

Hi, Luiz:

Luiz posted:

"you're "tha" man! Thank you for your always welcome corrections; "

Glad to hear that because it's "da" man, not "tha" man ! :-)

"When you asked for "quality" I guess it means both precision (number of CORRECT digits) and speed. And I guess how many FLOPS can be measured in a pocket calculator."

Actually, my whole post was an (admittely lame) attempt at silvan humor, loosely based in the fact that, according to the dictionary, "logs" are "trunks of dead trees", the sentence "you can't see the wood for the trees" (also featuring "trees") means that someone is wandering in details instead of focusing in the important facts, and "maple" is a kind of tree ! Notice the pattern ?

So I couldn't resist making all the (arguably wrong) connections and issuing the post, in a misguided attempt to make you laugh, which I failed miserably :-)

Best regards from V.

Hi, Valentin;

You did not fail; I'm the one without knowledge enough... to understand the thoughtful words and laugh of the funniest meaning connected with them. I'm the miserable one... (have you found yourself in a situation where you have to explain a joke because "the other guy" did not understand it? Poor him!)

BUT consider this: you provided me extra knowledge. That's gold! And this I surely appreciate as well... and understand d8^)

Best regards, V.

Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 15 June 2004, 4:42 p.m.