My Collection has Reached the Century Mark


My calculator collection has reached the century mark, and it has done so in a very special way. First, the calculator is not a Hewlett-Packard, however, it uses RPN. The manufacturer is the company "fate" in Argentina, and the calculator is a microcifra 10, based on the same National Semiconductor ROM used in the Novus 4510. Details can be seen on Dennis Belillo's site:

microcifra 10

But this is not just the story of an unusual calculator marking a significant milestone in my collection, but also the special way I came to acquire it. Most of the calculators in my collection that I have acquired recently were obtained via TAS, often from sellers that were totally ignorant and unappreciative of these unique machines, and just looking to make a quick buck. I found this calculator on the Argentinian online site "mercado libre", which translates to "free market", and is similar to TAS. Since I am fluent in Spanish, I set up a user account on mercado libre, and found the microcifra 10, however, the seller would not ship outside Argentina (most of them won't). At this point Juan Demin, who is a member of this forum and lives in Argentina, offered to visit the seller, examine the calculator, send multiple photos, purchase it, bring it with him on a business trip to the USA, and then mail it to me. At no point was there any mention of money, although I hope he allows me to thank him in some material way for this. To me that makes this whole experience totally memorable and special. So, I'd like to publically thank Juan Demin and all the other fine human beings on this forum who have helped me and others in this and many other ways. Were it not for Dennis Belillo, I would remain totally ignorant of the existence of non-HP RPN calculators. Were it not for Luis Vieira, Randy et al, I would not know how to repair a Spice. The list goes on endlessly. People showing kindness and consideration to others without any consideration of monetary profit. Life is good.

Edited: 31 Oct 2009, 6:46 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


Does the machine really have two way keys? Does it depend on whether you press the key on the top or bottom edge? Or did I miss a shift key?


It's the little blue key. 2nd row down, 2nd key over.


What does the "V" key? 2nd key in top row ...

TIA for enlightenment


"V" stands for the Spanish word "Visor", which literally means viewer, but actually means display. The calculator has a power saving feature, which activates after 25 seconds of inactivity, and replaces the contents of the display with periods that consume less power. In order to turn the display back on without disturbing its contents the "V" button is pressed. If any other button is pressed, then that function will be performed, and the previous contents of the X register shown in the display will be modified.


Hi, Michael;

thank you very much for your kind words and, why not to say, your pleasant experience here.

People showing kindness and consideration to others without any consideration of monetary profit. Life is good.
Believe you me, I know some people who do not believe this. Some guys can only measure what you do for the money you ask or are paid for. I prefer believing people.

A few days ago I bought this babe at 'Mercado Livre' (Brazilian version of Argentinian´s 'Mercado Libre'):

The seller mentioned that it is not working and I do not have it in hands yet, but I'm already searching for information. I know at least one of the MoHPC contributors has one of these, I'm just waiting for it to get here to inspect it and go ahead with the 'restoration' process.

Cheers and congratulations for your nice new 'fella'.

Luiz (Brazil)


Hi Luiz,

This is pretty clearly a re-branded Commodore N60, I had no idea that Commodore did that with this machine. Here's the manual if you need it.



Hello, Katie;

thank you very much! I almost wrote your name as the possible owner (I suspected so), but I was afraid of relating it wrongly.

Thanks again. As soon as it get to my hands I'll post again with either good or bad news...


Luiz (Brazil)


The seller mentioned that it is not working [...]
I brought two different C= calculators back to life. Both just had bad capacitors. If yours isn't working, I'd try to replace them first.

Good luck!


Hi, Thomas;

thanks for the tip 'in advance', I appreciate that. I'd guess they are electrolytic capacitors, right? Would that be easy to identify them (value, working voltage, polarity, etc.), if so? About the display, would it be cold-cathode?

Thanks again.

Luiz (Brazil)


I'd guess they are electrolytic capacitors, right?

Would that be easy to identify them (value, working voltage, polarity, etc.), if so?
Very likely.

About the display, would it be cold-cathode?
AFAIK no, it's an ordinary vfd.

That is about as close to the scientific four-banger tossed around here a while back as I've ever seen and probably will ever see.

Lovely little machine,

- Pauli


Only to add that the "Fate" company is a local maufacturer of vehicle tires. The name is an acronym for "Fabrica Argentina de Telas Engomadas", which translates to "Argentine Manufacturing Company for Rubberized Fabrics". It was a local startup in the post-WW II era, and is still one of the major tire manufacturers here.

So, what has this to do with calculators? Well, around 1973, Fate started an "electronics division", targeting digital electronics products. The most important was the "CIFRA" computer, programmed in the "CIFRAL" language, and a calculator line. It sported some desktop printing machines (the kind which prints on a paper strip by means of a rotating cylinder and two-colored inked ribbon), the "minicifra", which was a smaller, LED-display based desktop model, and the "microcifra", which were the pocketable models already discussed here.

It's interesting to note that some of the electronics engineers who worked on these projects, later started many electronics iniciatives here. One of them became Secretary of Industry around the mid-1980 period, and promoted electronics manufacturing, albeit with a strong supervision of the national state; a plan that was not successful (in my personal opinion; I may be wrong, and I mean no offense for people with different views).

Other engineers from the Cifra project started their own companies; I had been in contact with some of them and, strangely enough, I bought an HP 91/92/97 carrying case from them around 1984, and also received from them my HP 41 Wand by the same time.

About the Cifra brand, I think some other company bought the rights to the brand and nowadays you can find Cifra products in Buenos Aires, but with no local design nor content; most are just products from China, just rebadged as Cifra.

About selling overseas from here: while I don't know particular cases, in general it's very difficult and expensive, due to customs paperwork, money transfer issues, etc.. Some fear of goods never arriving to the intended destination may also be part of it.

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