HP 32S versus HP 32Sii


I have a question..... are people starting to
favor the earlier 32S, over the newer 32Sii ??

I was comparing them today and found myself
liking the 32S better than 32Sii (various
small reasons). Then I go to eBay and
there are NO 32S for sale. But theres a lot
of 32Sii for sale.

So are people concluding that the 32S is
the one worth hanging onto ? Or is there
some other reason.


Hi, Norm;

I'm not sure about usage, but one thing for sure: the HP32S was replaced by the HP32SII soon after being released. I saw an HP32S and it was a lot used. The girl using it was not aware of [ENTER] and was only able to perform DEG, GRAD, RAD, ->DEG, ->RAD, R->P and P->R with it. I tried to show her how to use it and she was always stuck (the girl, not the calculator). I tried to buy it, offer another one, but she resisted fiercely: it was her father's preferred, and he was only able to switch it ON and perform the self test. It was a gift... to ungifted people.

What to do? I offered a new HP32SII and she refused! And she was not even known about the fact it was a rare calculator.

I know it's an isolated case, but many HP32S owners know it is rare and will not give it up easy.

My thoughts...

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil

Edited: 2 June 2003, 6:54 a.m.


IMO, it's not a question of favorites. There are far more 32Sii's out there than the 32S. It became the only shirt-pocket RPN in HP's line for at least 6 years after they killed the 42S in '95, resulting in more sales for the one model than any other. Being half the price of a 42S didn't hurt, either.

If you want the best of both models, look for a later 32S with the stepped bezel (without the LCD cover) and you'll get the nice, single shift key and the larger LCD digits of the later 32Sii.


How 'bout that. Original 32S is more collectible. I've got 4 of them lying around here. I bought them new, all at the same time around 1989. They are my 'thrasher' calculators. The cats walk on them, I throw junk on them until they are buried. Then I dig them out from under and start over.

Couldn't treat a 34C like that !!

When I compare the 32S to the 32Sii, I definitely find the 32S preferable. Why? Because its a clean elegant appearance. It looks like something where you can master all the functions, rather than spend years studying it and still not know what half the keys do. The single orange-shift key is advantageous to present a cleaner simpler appearance. It looks like a calculator a person can live with. Dont get me wrong, its not awesome. I think the brown color (with orange highlights) looks boring. But its a calculator I can live with.

To me the 32Sii looks cluttered and uninspired. Take one example. THE SQUARE ROOT BUTTON (top left) It's supposed to have the reciprocal (X SQUARED) as its compliment. OK, it does. But can you see it? Just barely. What you see mainly is a big label called "PARTS".

So the button says "square root" and "parts"
rather than "square root, and x squared"

The "x squared" is buried. in the very corner, almost invisible. Not clear. Not clean. Not elegant. Looks cluttered instead.

So if I am forced to select calculators I would choose

first place: HP-34C
second place: HP-32S
third place: HP-32Sii
Fourth place: HP-15C

Never liked the horizontal layout of 12C or 15C. It is better to size the width of a calculator to its display. This makes them tall and skinny, not fat and wide. The short display on a very wide calculator looks un-inspired.

So if you force me to live on a desert island and I can only have 4 calculators, those are the ones. ALL discontinued. What would I take from the current production? Nothing. Give me a few extra coconuts instead.


Hi Norm,

I am responding to all your posts today!

Here is a topic that I think is 100% personal style preference, and 0% subtantive or productive.

While I appreciate the "streamlined," "elegant," etc beauty of the 32s and the 27s, I must say that for me, to have as many functions as possible directly accessible on the keys is a tremendous advantage.

!. It means that you can know what you have available for functions--especially valuable when you are doing something you haven't done in a while but really need now, and

@. Direct keyboard access reduces keystrokes, which is to me the Holy Grail of efficient calculation. It is also very common among other engineers.

I once worked for an international shipbuilding company, and the German guys (our hosts) were teaching us all the fancy ship design programs the company was moving up to, which ran on a UNIX mainframe. It was funny to see how the best engineers there did everything they could to avoid typing --- the unix GUI had two clip-boards--a middle button and a right button clipboard---so you hardly had to type at all!

So anyway, it is fun to discuss the merits/demerits of the cluttered vs uncluttered keyboard, but in the end, I think it is a style question.




When my boss handed me my company 16C to use in 1985, he showed me how you can operate it with two thumbs - it's almost like touch typing!


When my dad bought a 21 in mid-70s, I learned to use it with only one thumb ;-p

BTW, while we are at this useless thread : I FIND THE WOODSTOCKS AWESOME. THEY ARE THE BEST.

I used a 21 last week. This week will be a 27. My 17BII is resting at the desk drawer.



Quoth Renato,


Glad to see someone else here who is as jazzed up over Woodstocks as I am! I love the way their curved shape fits right into your hand.

I never cared for the Spice design. To me, the 34C is a nice machine in an uninspiring package. (Not that that will stop me from trying to get one.) I love the Voyagers too, and will never give up my 11C or 16C for anything.

I used to own a 25, now I have a 21 and I'm looking for more. Woodstock Rules!

- Michael


Crunching numbers with left hand, pressing keys using only left-hand thumb, while taking notes with the other hand.

I used to do this in the 80s - it is still productive in the millenium, and it makes me feel good :-)))


it also works as crunching numbers with right hand, taking notes with left hand :-)


Hmm, so you must be one of those folks that live on the wrong side of the mirror... or is that the right side ?



The Left Bank---of the the Connecticut, that is :--}
For me, there is no wrong; only right, and left;)
Uh-oh, that could be a pun......




Norm sure is consistent!

Actually, I just got my first HP-34c, and can almost agree that it's the best of the bunch. It's got that red LED thing going, and its classic-like keyboard and overall solid feel are compelling attributes. (Unfortunately, its Roll Down is a shifted function, but that's a relatively minor complaint -- and not surprising, given the complexity of its keyboard . . . )

For everyday use, I vote the 32s first overall, and notably superior to the 32sII (for all the reasons Norm cites). But as a sheer pleasure to hold, the 34c is hard to beat. (Certainly, I can now better understand Norm's outspoken fanticism!)


I admit it Paul, I'm a fanatic. I'm starting the church of the Holy HP-34C.

HEY, you guys are finally seeing it my way..... the nice triple-color keys, the 3 shift functions, AND, that nice heavy "paperweight" feel of the unit. And its nicely sculpted. I think it also accomplishes the most with the fewest physical keys (due to the 3 shift buttons).

The solderless ones are really heavy. Like little battle tanks. But the soldered ones are going to be more reliable, even though they dont feel as good in the hands.

Probably my biggest mistake is not paying more attention to the junior cousins in the same product line...... some of those are just as nice but not as heavily in demand.

- Norm


Along with using tri-flow on the slide-switches, here's one other important suggestion I can offer:

HP-34C: At the first sign of trouble, stop using it.

If its a solderless unit, then the solderless joints will
eventually get unreliable. You can try freshening them 'Luiz Viera' stle by carefully cleaning the whole interior.

If you have a solderless unit and you keep running it while the solderless joints have gone intermittent, my impression is that the main chip gets partially damaged.

Then even freshening up the contacts may not save it.

If it works great then fine, but if it acts flakey then its time to take it to the doctor, if you want it to last another generation.

- Norm


Norm, I suspect no single person has done more to increase demand for the 34c than has you. Your impassioned plea for its recognition made me take my first serious look. I'm sure there are others out there who reacted similarly. (We'd better watch what we rant about!)

With regard to solderless connections, I've been thinking . . . I recently used a conductive paint (an alcohol-based solution of suspended copper powder or filings) to repair a flakey LCD connection in a TI-30XA for my son. This stuff was from a Permatex "rear window defroster repair kit" I found at an auto parts store. I wonder whether this (or something like it) might be used to make the the Spice series' solderless connections more reliable and less susceptible to corrosion? Anyone got any ideas on this? Would introduction of copper between the chip/PCB contacts create an electrolysis situation? (My limited understanding of that phenomenon suggests the answer is "no".)

I haven't taken my 34c apart, but suspect it's a soldered unit, as it's hefty, but not brick-like. Is there any way to tell externally? (Its serial # is 2301S30306.)

I was told this unit would "turn itself off randomly", but after replacing the NiCads, it seems to be working flawlessly. It's a little ironic that I (who will rip Pioneers apart without thinking twice) hesitate to venture inside, but I don't see any need to mess with success.


Hi, Paul;

my best reference for soldereless and soldered units (Spices) is the key feeling. Solderless units have a bubble-like keyboard with cooper trails on it (I don't like to think they can break sometime...) and the soldered units use metal caps that are bent when keys are pressed. If you have the opportuniy to "feel" both types at your fingers, you'll never forget the feeling: solderless units sound as knoking in hole wood, if I expressed myself correctly. Also, they are heavier because there is a generous metal plate to maintain structural balance.

Soldered units are lighter and keys correspond promptly (their movement towards the spinning axle is shorter than the one observed in solderless units) and they "sound" metal touching each other.

I hope my English is well used here so you can understand.

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil


This is interesting Luiz.
Thanks for describing that the keyboards feel different.

Which is your favorite? You didn't really say which
is "better". Sounds like the later version probably
has a "snappier" i.e. quicker to press feeling.

I have an old version right now, I will confess that the keys are a little bit long in the stroke. This makes a guy feell like he's running on a sandy beach,
rather than running down a cement sidewalk.


Hi, Norm;

for me, both key-feelings are fine, I have no particular choice.

Anyway, the soldered-type Spices have a more reliable keyboard, to be honest. The metal caps are the same ones used in Voyagers and HP41's.

There are many Woodstocks that have broken trails in their bubble-type keyboards, although I have not seen this particular problem in any Spice.

New keyboards, like Pioneers', are also bubble-type, but they do not have cooper trails; instead, they have only a circular carbon "spot" and an interlaced "fork-like" contact right below them. These keyboards are reliable, too.

I prefer Spices' solderless (sandwich type) for maintenance and daily use (you'll be in trouble if you have to remove the LED display or the big µP), but soldered Spice's keyboards are better.

Hope this helps.

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil

Edited: 5 June 2003, 1:53 p.m.


Paul wrote:

> Norm, I suspect no single person has done more to increase demand for the 34c than has you.

Yeah, now I am losing all the auctions and can't afford one !! Oh well, its not good to keep a fine thing all to yourself, and in the end, I can't own ALL of them


If you guys are chasing after them now, in your later years, you still can't have the total fun of getting one brand-new back in 1980, for high school calculus. That was really 7th heaven. Gotta feel sorry for all the public school kids nowadays who will never learn to even add 2+3 .

As to how to bring a solderless unit back to fullest performance (if the connections go intermittent) I dont have
all the answers there, only some of the problems.

I tried cleaning up one by soldering it with a controlled temperature precision iron

Firstly, the pins themselves build up a blue oxide,
esp. on the 3 small memory chips.

So they weren't accepting solder.
The only way to fix that was flip the chip on
its backside, and rub it for awhile with the iron.

Secondly, even with the lowest controlled temperature,
there was tendency to melt the plastic underneath the

Thirdly, you can never undo this type of work, so if a chip blows you can't replace it and the supply of parts rapidly dwindles.

I would favor the Luiz approach....... pull it apart and clean up the contact surfaces with a cleaner. Then use some type of light-oil that would keep the surfaces more corrosion resistant (dont know what oil).

The chips themselves, well, flip them upside down, and look for cleanliness of each pin. Probably a bit of scraping with a jewelers screwdriver is all that's needed. I think Luiz was using a bit of emery paper, which might be OK if
followed by a squirt of aerosol degreaser.

A low-power stereozoom microscope is just dynamite for this.
You can see exactly what's going on with each pin.
I have one...... although they are $800 new, it can be such a fine tool that I say its totally worth the money.

THE LAST THING is ESD. I dont think you stand a snowballs chance in Hell of being able to clean up all the pins on an ancient CMOS chip without frying it. The only
way this will work is if you ground yourself out, ground
the jewelers screwdriver out, and work on a piece of anti-static plastic or even a piece of aluminum foil
while you work each pin of a chip on its backside.

Anyway, clean all these boundaries where the contacts are occurring, a bit of oil on everything, put it back together and cross your fingers.

That's the Luiz approach, and its better than what I tried,
or, the thing about 'painting' that you were describing.

Do recommend lubrication of the switches, or they will grind flakey bits of metal where the contacts are sliding.
And these are antiques that there's no turning back
(unless this whole country gets more traditional in its thinking, from the boardroom on down). So we really need to
cherish these items. I think we can take a line from the antique radio crowd...... "you are dealing with a nostalgic item that goes beyond just your personal ownership. Later it will be owned by another person. Do any work so that it will last and ould please the future owners also".

Still recommend "Tri Flow" for slide switches (from the black aerosol can, shake well, but only one drop of the liquid onto a Q-tip and then rub it onto there.)

(dont think people have bought into this yet, but Luiz is starting to). Starting with the extraordinarily difficult case-halves, and continuing with the inner plastic clips that retain the electronics module, this plastic was mis-designed and you have to bend it TOO MUCH to get the plastic ratchets to spring away.

In these situations, get out a fresh X-Acto blade, and trim away just .010 or .020 of that plastic. Do it manually.
THEN, the ratchet action comes apart easier, for future service.

If we don't get into doing some of that, the clips will simply break off in future servicings. I know because I'm already seeing bust-offs of these clips inside.

Try it sometime and you will be well-pleased.


- Norm


Norm, you need to flesh your last few posts out as a "Spice Maintenance" article.

Thanks for all the info. I suspect mine is soldered, based upon its short-throw and relatively quiet keyboard, and its "reasonable" heft. But lubricating the switches is certainly sufficient reason to open it up, so I'll find out soon enough.

Thanks again!


Hi, I dont know how to post technical material
as permanent repair postings, but i agree with you.

Good ideas should go into a database for each calculator.

Clearly a few of the ideas I bring up
about SPICE HP-34C units, based upon genuine effort and trials and mixed results, are worthy of going into a long-term data base.

I dont know the plan for such postings
and figure if anybody is putting it into a big
database, they will do it for me.

Maybe it should be pointed out to dgh@hpmuseum.org


Send a Word or HTML document to Mr. Hicks. He'll (almost surely) mount it and link to it under "Repairs", as his time permits.

(You might want to first post a draft here and solicit comments.)


The easiest and quickest way to do it is to click on Articles at the top of this forum and then Post A New Message. Then you bypass the middleman (me) and can edit your article any time you want. Instant gratification.

Let me know when it's up and I'll place a link from the repairs page.


I've linked your new articles forum post into the repairs page.

Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  HP 32sii Fault Carlos Estinos 9 1,434 09-26-2013, 01:06 PM
Last Post: Csaba Tizedes (Hungary)
  Joys of eBay: HP-32S, HP-32SII, HP-42S, HP-16C, ... Sasu Mattila 7 1,300 09-23-2013, 04:39 PM
Last Post: Julián Miranda (Spain)
  HP 32s LCD part Trisnadi Sutrisno 2 711 08-27-2013, 02:12 PM
Last Post: Han
  HP-Prime_CAS versus MAPLE_CAS CompSystems 0 434 08-18-2013, 11:58 PM
Last Post: CompSystems
  HP-32S II Expansion Matt Agajanian 14 2,054 07-21-2013, 10:19 PM
Last Post: Matt Agajanian
  HP 32S-II Vertical Curve Program Ron Cardwell 2 752 05-20-2013, 07:54 AM
Last Post: Thomas Klemm
  Binary versus Decimal prefixes bill platt 22 2,767 04-27-2013, 11:22 AM
Last Post: Walter B
  HP-32S/33S/35S emulator with Stack Overflow sensing/Stack display x34 3 886 10-26-2012, 04:56 PM
Last Post: x34
  HP 32sII with faulty keypad aurelio 6 1,514 09-21-2012, 05:08 PM
Last Post: aurelio
  HP-41's ARCL on the 32S-II Matt Agajanian 2 636 05-04-2012, 04:45 PM
Last Post: Matt Agajanian

Forum Jump: