"RPN LIVES ON"? I don't think so...

In my semi-monthly ;-) visit today, I saw Gene's post about the new articles posted on HP's calculator site. I had some trouble downloading some, and while I was staring at the page, I saw the "News from the GM: RPN LIVES ON" snippet right under the smiling guy's picture (he must be pretty proud of himself---with his picture on the main page, and again at the top of his "message"). I'll bite, I thought. So I went to the page, and I saw this in the first paragraph:

HP is dedicated to its unique Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) entry mode...The HP 49g+, our most powerful scientific and engineering graphing calculator, has the familiar "Enter" key - revealing its RPN heritage.

I got kind of excited (HP nerds are like that)! Wow, "...has the familiar "Enter" key..."! I thought I had seen a picture of the 49G+, but I didn't remember it having a real Enter key! I'll buy one, if it really has the Enter key where it belongs---not just throwing RNP a really-small bone like we saw on the 49G...

Well, you know the rest! I quickly zipped over to the 49G+ page, and enlarged the picture...and to my real disappointment, I saw that the "familiar Enter" key, was not, in fact, familiar; it was the same pathetic b*stard son that it was on the 49G. HP's not "dedicated to...RPN"! They're dedicated to their marketing department and nothing else. They'd drop that "RPN" in a heartbeat if they thought the result would be more appealing to students!

I'm really beginning to dislike Mr. GM! He's awfully full of himself, and he's awfully wrapped-up in the glorious HP past---as evidenced by the "familiar" Enter key on the 49G+! As we all know, the trouble is that the current Kinpo/HP calculators have absolutely no connection to their wonderful ancestors. Oh well. I'm not really too mad or upset; I really did give-up on HP a while ago---when they killed all the good calculators to replace them with the new crap.

A final question: Does Mr. GM know that he's shovelling B.S.? Or does he really believe it? I guess that boils down to: Is he an unscrupulous swindler, or is he just stupid?



I agree in essence, but have to differ on a few points. I don't think they can sell enough to make profit of the original style RPN scientifics we grew up with. Valentin Albillo believes that teaching RPN to today's students is not profitable, neither for them or manufacturers of calculators. He has a point. RPN's efficiency, born of the old expense of RAM, is initially counterintuitive (like riding a two wheeled machine or getting into a large body of water, though once you learn it... ) and kids today... well, they're fed color graphics, flashy cases, beeping noises (my 48G's still scare me when they go "beep" when I screw up), and mostly, they suck at math (and science, and language, and history, but two of the latter may not matter with regard to HP calcs).

I'm not sure it really matters substantially if HP no longer has in house calculator manufacturing. I'm not sure the American labor and management is capable of or willing to achieve what it used to, in terms of quality. Of if so, any of us could really afford to buy the product.

I forgot who, but another poster here said that even if these new calculators are nothing compared to the old RPN babies we nursed (rather, nursed us through school), if it helps to get HP back on track, then it's a welcome step in the right direction.

Mine is still in the mail, but from what I've seen of its specs, the 49G+'s design was well thought out, unlike the affordable, but apparently rush-designed algebraic models they released in recent years, after the original 49G.


I don't think it's as negative as all that . . .

I'm sure it takes a significant investment in design, implementation, testing, and documentation to offer a second mode of operation. It would have been much easier for HP had they gone ahead & dropped RPN altogether.

Given the state of things for the last several years, I'd say things are looking about as good as might be expected, small "Enter" key notwithstanding.

We could all come up with things we might have done differently, and I suppose changes to the keyboard layouts on the newest models would be high on the lists of many folks who frequent this Museum.

But pay attention to the basics: new RPN-capable models are being made available, with features like SD card memory and USB connections. Pooh-poohing that is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


Hi Bruce,

...And a new user does not care at all! Come on, remember the voyagers--they have a different position. HOw about the move of the aritmetic operators? (from woodstock to voyager) Like, this ENTER key fixation is going a little too far. Heck, on my 48, I use SPACE more than ENTER anyway--it's right next ot the numbers!

But then again, last week I said I would WAIT before buying on account of potential bugs.....

Best regards,



I would love to refute your RANT of HP. But I can't.

As others have said, just be glad we get crumbs from Carly's table. Hp published its board members and their portfolio's. Less than half were of technical backgrounds (and that is probably generous), to me that says volumes for a sceintific company. Carly herself is a History Major, now running what used to be a Creme de la Creme Tech Company. Now we have a marketing company existing and trading off the great heritage that once was.

Hp supposedly bought out Compaq, but check out who is there and who is GONE! Aside from Carly (she sold out the Hp Brass, who probably deserved the shaft anyway), a greater percentage are Compaq. Sounds like a deal was made to me.

If I were buying out a company, I would can their execs over mine (if I had competent ones, Within Hp that might be debatable).

I will end my RANT before I have a heart attack or start frothing at the mouth.

With this background, I think we have to be happy to still get RPN calculators. ACO was shut down right after Hp bought Compaq (can't have calculators compete with ipaq's can we?). With this philoshpy rampant, we are very lucky to get a new calculator. I would still like to see a 42s capable calculator with 32K or MORE RAM and I/O. To hell with the exams, make something for the professional. A real pocket calculator on par with the business professional's Hp 17B, not the wimpy 33s.

Sorry, I Rant again.


A quote from the April 1980 'Solving Problems with your HP calculator' that came with my 34C

"And, you'll wonder why anybody makes a scientific calculator without an ENTER key. We wonder too."

How things change....



Yes, things do change! Thanks for that great quote!



The 49G+ announcement by the GM says that 11 calculators will be available by year's end. At the risk of embarrassing myself, I can only count 10:


What am I missing??


If you search www.hp.com with "hp 39g", that will reveal hp 39g+


And don't forget the lovely gold HP-19BII+ that WILL feature the correct size enter key in the correct place.


Mark Hardman


Oh, c'mon now, Bruce. Even if the ENTER key happens to be in a position
that you're not familiar with, it's still an ENTER key. The very first
HP calculator (a desktop model) I ever used had a QWERTY keyboard with
one ENTER key (or maybe it was RETURN or something) at the bottom right
of the numeric keypad, and another one somewhere at the right side of
the standard alpha group of keys.

I'd prefer a large centrally located ENTER key, but having it at the
lower right isn't that hard to get used to. Like Bill, on the 48 series,
I more often simply use the SPC key to separate the arguments on the
command line and put them all on the stack with one press of the ENTER
key (or a keypress that does an implicit ENTER). On the 28S, I use the
"," key to separate the arguments. Now that I think about it, the ENTER
key is probably one of my "occasionally used" keys; I more often press a
key that does an implicit ENTER.

And at least it is an RPN calculator, though I expect that it will come
set in ALG mode by default.

If the location and size of the ENTER key turns out to be the worst
thing about the 49g+, I'll be extremely happy with it.



That is a fine juxtaposition of an old quote against current practice. It does emphasize that in many ways, you're really talking about TWO different companies that happen to have shared a name.


( . . . but it says "INPUT" . . . )


Well, the -49g+ operates in Algebraic mode by default, so that would make as the 11th calculator the roughly 2.7% of -49g+s whose owners will go to the trouble to change modes to RPN. By the way, it takes a minimum of FIVE carefully pressed keystrokes to place the machine into the operating mode about which we are promised that "HP is dedicated to its unique Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) entry mode...The HP 49g+, our most powerful scientific and engineering graphing calculator, has the familiar "Enter" key - revealing its RPN heritage." Yep, the promise is there all right. It's just too bad that it takes FIVE very unintuitive key depressions to begin to realize on what very shaky ground that promise is based. "Ya wanna use RPN? Sure! It's easy, see. Just press the MODE key, and then the CHOOS key--no, look in the bottom of the window--that's right, and then the DOWN key--no, it isn't labeled; it's the round button that has the down-looking arrow on it, then the OK key once, and then the OK key again for the second time. What? Why do you have to press the OK key twice? I guess so you can convince the calculator that you really, really do want to change to the operating mode to which Hewlett-Packard is so highly dedicated. Maybe the calculator wouldn't believe you were serious if you only pressed it once."


...but it does what it should: ENTER ;-)


Interesting thing is if you click on the 'click to enlarge' area for the 19BII+xyz@...

To my surprise it shows a 'classic' 19BII then,
which isn't a disappointment, however...


BTW: the 'names' of the current 'hp calcs' tend to get somewhat lengthy. It was much nicer when one could abbreviate the calc's name by a simple C, CV, CX, or SX, GX ;-)



That will do it.



. . . it don't actually matter how many keystrokes, but whether they seem to imply agreement or submission . . .



Even if the ENTER key happens to be in a position that you're not familiar with, it's still an ENTER key.
It's not so much the postion as the size to which I object. I won't accept anything but a double-sized [ENTER] key.

> I would still like to see a 42s capable calculator with 32K or MORE RAM and I/O

Yes! Yes! Yes!



Is that documented, or is that one of those magic things that you just have to "know"?



That's why it may help to download those documents and read through them.

Anyone have an easy way to put them all in one PDF? I have the individual PDFs and word files, but don't relish doing 54 copy and paste actions.



I have full-blown Acrobat 5.0 (i.e. not just the reader, but the writer/creator as well), and it took me about two seconds to concatenate two PDFs into a single file which had all the pages from both files. It shouldn't take much longer to combine an arbitrary number of files (once I can get my hands on them!).

I'll offer to combine any number of files (I have only a slow connection at home, but much faster at school) on a time-available basis if I can get them easily from the web.


Great news! I will fit a wide ENTER key to your new 49g+ or old 49G for a mere 1000 €uros. Works perfectly (if the old key worked perfectly). The old tiny key is destroyed for good! (-;


I use PDF-Tools http://www.docu-track.com/index.php?page=36. It lets you do almost anything with PDF's, is fast and cheap.


I upgraded the SD card in my digital camera, and put its 16Mb card into my 49G+. For some reason, that shows as ~13Mb in the FILES menu.

But regardless, you can get 256Mb SD cards for a reasonable price. That means the whole freakin' manual could be put (somehow, in some format) in the calculator itself!

I well remember boggling at the 28S' "CATALOG" (I think) command, which not only listed all commands, but their various requirements re: arguments on the stack. Imagine having a link from the "CAT" menu to brief text explaining what each command or operator does, what it requires, and perhaps even with examples of its use!

I know the 49G+ screen isn't exactly e-book-capable, but now that memory is really no object, a likely candidate for a popular download will no doubt be a calculator-formatted and -indexed version of the manual(s).


Don't forget that sectors are used up for the boot sector, FATs, and root directory. I expect the filer to show you how much is actually available for storage.

Yes, no doubt the entire manual could easily be stored on a card. And you'd still have plenty of room to store objects from your calculator.

The 49gII desparately *needs* a PDF reader! ;-}



Another thing that occurred to me -- I wonder which of the programmable calculators are capable of running a (single?) program which exercises every command and feature available -- a sort of "calculator calisthenics routine"? (And, BTW, what is the minimum size of such a routine?)

Probably the 67/97 models could. (Has it been tried?) And the 41C & 42S presumably. I'd guess that the 15C, 34C and 32S/SII cannot. 12C? (Would the 12C Platinum's extra memory push it over the line?) What about other models with which I'm not familiar?

The 48G? 49G? 49G+? Probably all can, but with (IIRC) 2,700+ commands/features to be exercised, a 49G+ calisthenics program would be extensive.

If I may amend the (alleged) Chinese proverb: "May you live in interesting times -- with plenty of inexpensive memory".

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