Any substitute for HP 41C series????

I understand to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the HP 35 - the company released an update called the 35S which is alpha Numeric and RPN.

I wish they would re-introduce the HP 41C series!

My question is for those familiar with both the HP 41C and the new 35S:

Can the HP 35S be considered a substitute for the 41C? In which ways does it fit the bill, fall short or exceed. I realize that the peripherals will not work etc -- I am more concerned with main unit functions.

For example -- the simplicity of the 41c Keyboard: The toggle switches for Alpha, user etc made it much more convenient then calcs with multi-tiered menus/catalogs that I find frustrating.


A 41S on the 41st birthday of the 41C (which would be in 2020)


If all you need is a SIMPLE programmable calculator, the Hp35s can substitute for an Hp41c.

If you need long variable names or a clock/timer and I/O, the Hp35s fails to deliver.

If you do not need trig, the Hp17bii is readily available and its solver more than makes up for its lack of programming for most types of applications. And an added caviate is that the solver doesn't interfer with normal math operations ie you can be using the solver and using the calculator simultaniously vs an Hp 48/50G doesn't allow you to use the calculator while using the solver.

I woould suggest an older original Hp17Bii over anything else. Is one of the best statistical calculators available due to using list based statistics too.


Hi Larry,

The 35S is more a replacement of the 32S / 32SII line than of the 41. There are numerous differences between the 35S and the 41C beyond the expandability. I'll list some of them below.

1. No separation between programs in memory. Programs share the same space and therefore labels are not reusable. You have 26 alpha labels to work with (A..Z) but the 35S unlike the earlier 32 calculators and the 33S does allow for offsets from the primary label so you can say GOTO A035 so you can (in theory--it makes editing a little harder) have 26 programs in memory and the 32K available becomes more usable unlike the 33S.

2. Like labels, registers are addressed by alpha letters A..Z with I and J being available for indirect addressing. You also have several hundred numbered registers that can be indirectly addressed through I/J. These are limited by available memory.

3. The keyboard is more like the 32S/33S with 2 shift keys plus alpha which are activated by function (STO/RCL/LBL/etc.)

4. Unlike the 41C you do have a solver but IMHO it does not have quite the ease of use of the solvers in the graphing calcs or the 17bII+. You are also limited to single character names in the solver.

5. The 35S is much, much faster but for my needs I never had a problem with the speed of the 41.

6. No reassignable keys. Not even the top row like in the 42S.

7. Much more memory (32K) but harder to utilize fully because of the shared program space and the lack of numeric and multi-character labels.

8. Supports fractions

9. Has a limited set of built-in conversions

10. I believe that there are ways to get alpha prompts by using the solver to build the prompt string. I have never tried this and it is certainly not as easy as with the 41.

These are just some of the differences. There are others and I'll try to come up with a more complete list over time.

The positives in the 35S (as I see them) are:

1. Nice keyboard and classic HP layout. Unlike others I have never had a keyboard issue with either of my 35S's

2. Relatively easy to use. If you have used (and like) the 32S you will feel right at home.

3. Nice looks

All-in-all a decent scientific calculator but without some of the features that made the 41C and 42S favorites of mine.

Hope this helps a little.


M. Joury


Good point. I forgot the timer functions in the 41C/CV with timer module and the 41CX. He did say that peripherals were not a big concern but I am not sure whether that included the time capabilities of the 41C.

As to the 17bII, I really do like that calculator and as stated it offers a lot of capability.

I own both the 17bII and the *new* (latest) 17bII+ and I like them both. Looks are very different but functionality is the same although the 17bII+ has way more RAM. I never used the earlier 17bII+ but the latest one has a nice keyboard (at least I have had no issues with it) and is also readily available.


It sounds like your main problem with the HP50g would be its use of menus for commands, but bear in mind that that calculator also lets you define a USER keyboard, so you might be able to avoid menus.


Apples and oranges. As a basic scientific calculator, the HP 35S is great; as a programmable calculator it sucks. The single letter variables and lack of Greek alphabet symbols severly limits its entry of equations. For example I have an equation programmed into my HP 50G in rpl, which has 5 variables that all begin with the letter "T" that are timt,tima,temt,tema and theta(Greek symbol). They appear on a soft menu that is accessible from the top row of keys that are definable. Basically, the HP 41C can do this, but the HP 35S cannot. Then there's the problem of loading or saving programs with external media. The HP 50G has USB and serial RS232 interfaces and the HP 41C has an accessory card reader or cassette tape drive, but the HP 35S has no such interfaces. The HP 41C was perhaps the greatest innovation that HP ever developed, and there really are no equivalents in modern designs.

Edited: 22 Sept 2010, 5:10 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


AND you might not necessarily be able to get away from using menus with the 35s anyway. Some functions (for example, statistics and linear regression) are in menus.

I know you didn't ask, but I think the 50g is 100x the calculator the 35s is.


Thank You.

This is helpful. Ultimately I need to have one in my hands to test out or just go ahead and buy one.

BTW - I have the V41 simulator on every Windows Computer I own! You can enter and save your favorite programs in it too! Of course you lose the feel of the calc and using a Mouse does slow you down, but you still have access to your programs if your 41c is down or if you do not want to carry it. I consider my 41s to valuable to carry routinely.

So many 41 users still call it their all time favorite calculator -- I do wish HP would seriously roll out a "41S" that does justice to the original and not wait to 2020!

For expandability I know the 50s are using USB, SD cards etc and I would NOT expect them to make it compatible to the old 41 peripherals.

Edited: 22 Sept 2010, 1:24 p.m.


I will add other differences:

 - The 35s displays x and y registers simultaneously. 41c only displays x register. 
Some people think that it is confusing but I like this feature of the 35s.
- The 35s lacks I/O. (If only it would!)
I would like to complete some information:
 10. To get alpha promts in the 35s, first set flag 10 and then insert any text as an equation. Easy.
IMHO the hp 35s has a lot of features for its price. And you can start using those features very quickly.

About the negatives: 35s bugs

Edited: 22 Sept 2010, 1:14 p.m.


I know you didn't ask, but I think the 50g is 100x the calculator the 35s is.

I'll 2nd that. If I had to replace a 41CX with something that was in production today it'd be the 50g for the following reasons:
  1. The 50g can run all my 41C programs. See:
  2. The 50g has I/O for transfers and programmable I/O. With 4 options (SD, Serial, USB, IR). Programmable I/O example:
  3. The 50g firmware can be upgraded.
  4. The 50g has a huge library of code:
  5. The 50g can be programmed in RPN (see #1), RPL, UserRPL, Saturn ASM, ARM ASM, C (, and C++.
  6. The 50g has a clock.
  7. The 41C* was really a hand-held computer as so is the 50g. The 35s is just a calculator.
  8. The 50g can be powered via cable or battery.
  9. The 50g has two free emulation options. Debug4x(Windows/WINE): and x49gp(OS/X and Linux):
  10. The 50g is relative expensive--just like the 41C*, i.e. status symbol. :-)

To Esp Michael and Egan,

Thanks for all the help. I do not think I would be happy with the 35s. As for the 50g, it maybe the answer. I actually called HP and they did NOT recommend the 50g! Rather they said "there is nothing that directly compares....the 35s would be the closest". I quoted the shortcomings and given above to which they had no answers.

This has my wondering why they would not recommend the 50g. How does the alpha work in comparison?

On a practical level, I do not know who stocks these things so I can 'try before I buy'. I need to know a 50g or whatever is right for me before I buy.


Probably your only option for Try before Buy is to find someone you know that has the calculator. At most any stores now, all the calculators will be in plastic clam shells that the store will not want to open.

If you give up the "try" for keyboard feel, you can use the aforementioned 50g emulators for that. Before I got my real 35s I paid for an emulator from HP (I think they will give them to teachers for free) but I can't find the link for that anymore.


Sadly, I don't know of any outlet that has an Hp calculator out of a blister pack that I can try before I buy. And I live in the good ole US of A.

If you don't need trig, I still suggest the Hp 17Bii.

If you need a scientific calculator to replace or augment your Hp 41, the Hp 35s will do fine.

If you want a calculator to replace and surpass your Hp 41, the Hp 48Gii or 50G will do that. Their drawbacks are 10X more complexity and 2X size increase. They are bricks in comparison to the elegance of a calculator (although the Hp35s aint that small either). Many here would complain about the small ENTER key, but if you do use it awhile, you will likely over come this. If fact you will have to reacclimate yourself to any new keyboard as the 41 series has the function keys on the left, all new Hps are now on the right.

Another consideration that I suggest you consider, an older Hp48g series calculator. Similar quality to your Hp41 and now fairly cheap as Hp's new calculators are now available. It is what I have at my (or in) desk, along with an Hp 17bii.

My reasoning: I do need to use trig on occasion (Elect Eng), but most often, I just need to bang out numbers and the solver on the Hp 17bii is superior to an Hp48G solver for normal work. If I need to travel or review designs, the Hp 17bii is satisfactory and an understated calculator that has what I need (okay, if I am going to be cornered by a technical herd of nerds, I bring the Hp 42s to beat them down!!!)


(okay, if I am going to be cornered by a technical herd of nerds, I bring the Hp 42s to beat them down!!!)



On a practical level, I do not know who stocks these things so I can 'try before I buy'. I need to know a 50g or whatever is right for me before I buy.

Where do you live? Someone nearby has to have a 50g you can play with. My local University bookstore has all their calculators unwrapped for testing.

As for HP not recommending, I'm sure Tim will have something to say about that.


And an added caveat is that the solver doesn't interfere with normal math operations i.e. you can be using the solver and using the calculator simultaneously vs an Hp 48/50G doesn't allow you to use the calculator while using the solver.

I don't know about the 50g, but my 48sx does allow you to use the calculator while the Solver is active.

As for HP not recommending [50g]...

This is not so unreasonable. The 41c series is a classic HP RPN calculator, albeit the most sophisticated of the lot. If you know anything at all about RPN, you can pick it up and use it right away. Programming, at least for simple programs, is also very straightforward.

Not so the RPL machines. They are so feature-rich and complex, they can be very confusing and intimidating to use at first.


I am in full agreement with all the comments made on the 50g. My two complaints are size (it is a graphing calculator after all) and I, personally, hate the enter key. I have gotten used to it but it just feels wrong to me even after a couple of years with the HP 49g+ and the HP 50g. However, if you really want power, and full alpha names (and Mike is absolutely right about the naming limitations), and I/O there really is only one way to go (or perhaps two if you include the 48gII). As I stated in my original post, the 35S is not, and never was intended as, a replacement for the 41. The 50g, descendant of the 48 series, is.


I have been trying to pick up a HP 48GX on TAS and they are actually MORE expensive than a new 50g. Several have gone for well over $100 and some are listing for over $300. So if money is an issue you would be better off with the 50g or the 48gii which can be had for less than $50. If you want the classic (or at least closer to classic) look and feel than the 48s/x 48g/x are the way to go.


A word about the 48gii.

Be aware (or beware) that there are two versions of this calculator.

The original version:

  • has less memory
  • Does not have USB, only RS232
  • does not include the built in Equation Libraries
  • takes only 3 AAA batteries vs. 4 on the latest model
  • does not handle units in the multiple equation solver
  • has a cheap slip style leather-like pouch instead of hard plastic sliding cover
  • has an inferior keyboard

I don't know if it is true for all version but my original 48gii has blue paint in the hp logo and the 2nd generation has black paint in the hp logo.

Along the left and right sides, my original version 48gii has an hp logo near the top and my 2nd generation 48gii has an hp logo near the bottom. Also, on the 2nd generation version the slot for the sliding hard plastic cover is clearly visible.


Thanks Norman,

I should have mentioned that. I would think that unless you are buying used any machine bought today would be the new version?

To answer my own question: No, the older models are still out there selling as new units.

Edited: 22 Sept 2010, 5:22 p.m.


I would actually recommend a 48G or better, a 48G+ over a 48GX for the typical 41c user who has no experience with the older 48g series. Why? 1st: Cost, 48g approx $50, 48G+, maybe $100 max.

2nd: he may not like it at all as it is big, blockie and RPL and overly complex. Admittedly the 48g has limited (32K) RAM and the 48G+ has 128K of Ram which is much better, but still no expandability. Since RAM (or ROM) cards for the 48Gx are now very scarce and very expensive, over paying for an expansion slot that you cannot fill is foolish when you can buy the 48g+ for less than $100 and have the same calculator minus the two expansion slots.


Expanding on what Norman said about the 48gii:

  • You can distinguish the two in the retail package. The new packaging mentions USB support. When looking at the calculators themselves, examine the top edge. The old version has one connector (serial) and the new one has two (serial and USB).
  • You can get the original version on ebay for quite cheap - under 60 US dollars. This makes it worth considering instead of a 50g in my opinion, especially if you are a casual user who won't be loading a lot of programs or writing a lot yourself.

Comparing the newer 48gii to the 50g, the 50g has:

  • A larger screen
  • More memory
  • An SD card. As someone once pointed out, a 128MB SD card is like infinity on a calculator.
  • Better keyboard (or maybe that's just my particular units).
  • Different color scheme. In my opinion the 50g looks cooler but it's harder for my 47-year-old eyes to read.
  • Faster processor
  • Probably other features that I can't recall at the moment.
I own and use all 3 models. The old 48gii is a great calc for the money. For programming, I use the new 48gii or the 50g because of the USB connection (other than trivial programs, I do development on a PC and download to the calculator as needed). It's also very handy to have all the software I might need on the SD card.

Here's a novel idea: just buy a used 41! They are certainly plentiful, although not what you would call cheap, they are also not so expensive, either.


Good points. I am looking for a backup and so have the cards and therefore was not thinking about that aspect. Yes, a 48G+ would do nicely although they are a little harder to find. But that would give you 128K and I/O and, as you stated, cards for the GX are ridiculously priced.


I started this thread and I DO have a 41cx working as well as a card reader and other stuff. But I long since gave up on OEM rechargeable battery packs. I have a supply of NiMh size N rechargeables that I charge in a full size Nicd charger using small 1/4 sockets to take up the space difference between an "N" and a "AA".

I do not want to lose my programs or risk a non-survivable drop of the machine. And if a 50G self for $150, (Ok - the 48's can be cheaper I will consider that too) to me it would be worth having and carrying instead of risking the original 41's.

I did get my existing on Ebay and know they can be found -- but why risk someone else's headache or pay good money for an OLD machine, even though it is excellent. I DO want something new that I do not have to treat as 'an irreplaceable fossil' - LOL

A quick look found a 41c for $152 and still bidding and another with a 41c with'buy it now' of $179 -- just get the 50g at that point! Both seem to be the base C model


On a side note: It is easy to get one's hands on an inexpensive TI or non-HP calculator. I HATE THEM! I cannot stand doing anything more than simple math on them and even that only if I have no other choice! Why? RPN!

Someone helped my older brother who is a civil engineer get an ORIGINAL HP 35 when they were new and he was in College. He let me try it. I got so used to RPN right away!

Later, when I started college, I found a Novus programable RPN Calculator. Friends needing to borrow one soon learned not to ask me, since they could not be bothered with RPN. Later, when the great Ronald Reagan let me actually make some money AND buy some gas - I was able to buy the 41C. That original bounced one time

more than it could stand and was replaced by current 41 machine. But to this day I have the original box and misc.

I vaguely recall seeing a Russian made RPN calc advertised, but not in person. I guess I am preaching to the choir!

I think HP made a wise decision in making great machines with CHOICE of RPN, Algebraic, textbook. This way they keep the superior RPN alive for us addicts w/o losing market share on those whom are not converted to RPN.

Wonder how many HP owners out there stick with the Alternatives and never master RPN?

For me, I will never master algebraic!

Edited: 23 Sept 2010, 2:06 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


Hi Larry,

Interestingly enough it sometimes appears that the base model will go for more than a CV. Specially if it is one of the older ones. The CV often seems to be the sweet spot in 41 series pricing on TAS.




Yeah, I've had similar discussions many times on this forum. People say "I want something in current production so I can replace it easily."

To which I reply, how much easier can you get when hundreds of the older model you really like are sold on Eb** each year?

Personally I like Pioneers. I tried the 35s and ultimately did not like it. Why should I bother with a current production HP, when the older ones do what I want, have the old school HP quality, are readily available, and are reasonably priced?

Checking recently closed auctions for 41cx's, they varied from $133 to $365. Yes, more than a 50g. For me they are everyday tools I use in my work.


Quote: much easier can you get when hundreds of the older model you really like are sold on Eb** each year?

Personally I like Pioneers. I tried the 35s and ultimately did not like it. Why should I bother with a current production HP, when the older ones do what I want, have the old school HP quality, are readily available, and are reasonably priced?

Checking recently closed auctions for 41cx's, they varied from $133 to $365.

Agree to all points above. I recently obtained a 41CX on TAS for $275, and, it included an Advantage module. So I felt like I got a pretty good deal.


Thanks and congrats!


I recently obtained a 41CX on TAS for $275, and, it included an Advantage module. So I felt like I got a pretty good deal.

So, the answer is, "yes, there is a substitute"--another 41C series.

I greatly prefer my HP 42S over my HP-41CX.


My one BIG problem with the 42S is that there is no way to save programs or data. The 41 was vastly superior in this regard with all sorts of options available.

Beyond that I prefer the keyboard layout and the complete reassignability of keys (not just the top row), the availability of the time module (or the CX), and, in general, the extreme versatility of the system. The 42S is a great machine but when it really matters (a serious program that I will need long term) I always pick up the 41.


I’m confident that this topic has been covered before, but this thread just makes it easy for me to wax nostalgic about it again. Certainly everyone has their favorite calculator(s), so I won’t banter about the merits of each (after all, they are personal favorites). What I would like to point out is that there seems to be an analog to another interest of mine: classic cars. Going to any number of car cruise-ins and shows, I see the muscle cars of the 60s-70s well represented as well as newer incarnations of them. In practically every case, the newer cars would smoke the originals in any performance category (acceleration, top speed, braking, cornering, etc.). Yet the enthusiasm of the owners of the originals can’t be denied.

In some sense, my own nostalgia for the 41C may be due to something similar and comes in part due to the fact that it was introduced and endured during what has been arguably called the “golden age of calculators.” My 41C was far from my first (nor last) HP calculator, but it was clearly the best and most powerful. Yet the 42S has more functionality in several ways—making it more powerful in some aspects.

Beyond the nostalgia however, I have a visceral reaction to the two calculators in this discussion. It occurs to me that while the 42S is very capable, from a distance, it may be mistaken for some other calculator (like my HP32SII). Even my HP12C, a classic in it’s own right, can’t be distinguished from an HP10, HP11, HP15, or HP16, from a distance. The same can’t be said for the HP41—it’s literally in a class by itself. Looking at this post, I realize that it fits better in the memories section of the museum, but I just hope that folks will indulge me here.


My one BIG problem with the 42S is that there is no way to save programs or data. The 41 was vastly superior in this regard with all sorts of options available.
The 41 had a huge advantage in I/O, with HPIL and the interface converters to HPIB, RS-232, parallel, text video, etc., which could all be used at once too. The 42 can't touch it.

Excellent post, Jim.

Even though I do not own one, and probably never will, I agree with you about the 41C series being in a class by itself, in many ways other than instant recognition.

I just think the Pioneers are a lot more practical calculator for the kind of, well, calculations, that one typically uses a calculator for (as contrasted with using a computer for more intense number-crunching or more sophisticated output).

OTOH, but I am using my 48SX more and more at my desk, just because of the richness of features in one unit.

I don't understand why some posters here get so worked up attacking a particular HP calculator model or someone else's choice.

You are right, it's all about personal favorites.

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