Popularity of the HP-41C Calculator
#1

To All:

I originally bought a 41C back in 1979 because I thought it was a cool calculator with a lot of promise. HP backed up that promise by releasing lots of modules and peripherals that allowed anyone to do just about anything with it, limited only by your imagination.

One thing I've never seen or heard discussed was how popular the 41C was in relation to its competitors of the time. Did sales figures show that it was the most popular high-end scientific calculator or did it end up a niche machine for HP fanboys like us? Was this machine the pinnacle of HP's penetration into the calculator market or was that later with the HP-48GX (a guess on my part)?

At that time, I didn't give a crap about how popular the 41C was as I just liked the machine. Now that I'm older, I'm wondering just how successful HP was with this product.

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Gerry

#2

Hi Gerry,

I've never seen sales figures for the 41C -- I think most manufacturers are pretty secretive about this kind of information. However, when it comes to the 41C specifically, I'm pretty sure it was a resounding success, for two reasons: one, it was a killer machine, not just better than anything HP had built before but also competing with the TI-58 and TI-59 in terms of price/performance, and two, TI threw in the towel in the high-end calculator market, 4 years after the HP-41C was introduced, when they discontinued the TI-58 and TI-59 after 6 years of production, without introducing any successors or replacements. The HP-41 line, on the other hand, lasted 11 years, and was succeeded by even more powerful machines.

- Thomas

#3

Quote:
TI threw in the towel in the high-end calculator market, 4 years after the HP-41C was introduced, when they discontinued the TI-58 and TI-59 after 6 years of production, without introducing any successors or replacements. The HP-41 line, on the other hand, lasted 11 years, and was succeeded by even more powerful machines.

It isn't really correct to say that "TI threw in the towel... ... when they discontined the TI-58 and TI-59 ..." There was the debacle of the TI-88 which was strongly promoted and then suddenly withdrawn just before the TI-59 production was ended. That was followed by the TI-66, the CC-40, the TI-74, the TI-95 and the graphhics. TI had initiated a newsletter supporting the TI-74 and TI-95 and then suddenly withdrew it and started a new newsletter "It's About T.I.M.E." which was dedicated to the use of graphic calculators in education. I can't pinpoint the exact year as I don't have my files with me. But, from that point on it would be accurate to say that TI had thrown in the towel in the high-end, non-graphical market. Considering their domination of the education market in subsequent years I would have to say that was a correct business decision.
#4

Machines likes their Voyage 200 are pretty impressive and in some ways, out-strip functionality in HPs, at least up to and including the 49g series (I'm not entirely sure about the 50 and close relative 49s). I'm not going to quote specifics here because I can't remember but download the manual and look at the TI-basic language to see some aspects of what I mean.

Another massive benefit and wise move TI made was to use the M68000 CPU so if you want to get into assembler, you have a very elegant chip to work with.

However....., yes, there has to be a catch....

I find the Voyage 200 to be a strangely uninvolving experience, very boring, the Basic is slow and it has a confusing "file system" and a confusing front-end which doesn't leave you feeling in total control.

I think there is also a RPN suite for the machine too.

So I would also say that TI did not throw in the towel, they just went off in a different direction and if they sorted out a few aspects of operating their current top end calcs, they would be killer machines.

Mark

#5

in surveyor's world HP-41 was huge, simply wiped out any competitors hands down; this lasted up until HP-48 came up. HP is still the calculator of choice for surveyors.

#6

And the 41C was done in 1979 not 1989. Simple switch to program and do what you do to calculate and it is automated (adding a global label for reference if you like or just press R/S to compute again).
No complex language, just repeat the keystrokes in PRGM mode.



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