My First Pre-1980 HP has arrived!


Just came in the mail:


Needs some cleaning up (a little grime in the keys), put the printer works fine, notwithstanding the seller's observation. No magnetic cards yet to test the card reader. Nice big bright LED display, all segments intact. What retro paradise!

Just thought I would share this little milestone. I have the bug....



One of those would look soooo cool on my desk. Nice find.


First up, a new battery... Topcats, especially the printers, do not do well with old, tired batteries. Then it's time to rebuild the card reader.

For that task, the museum CD is a true resource as the 97 service manual is included. I'd sure like to know if "Magna-See" is still made. Amazing stuff.

Enjoy the HP calculator with the best keyboard ever!


The battery looks recently re-celled, actually. The seller is no HP aficianado, so I don't think he noticed. The printer feeds gorgeously, and the thermal printing is about as clear as one can expect.

I have (I know unwisely) taken out the battery and attempted to run BRIEFLY off of AC power alone. As mentioned in an earlier thread, I can see why one needs a battery in even when running "off the mains" as the Europeans say. The display flickers, the printer doesn't working, can't reset the number of displayed digits, etc.

I am keeping my fingers crossed about the card reader.

As for printer paper, I understand that replacement rolls are not hard to find, and even if they were it isn't hard to shave down the width of generic thermal paper and that works too. Am I right about this?

The assumption is that the card reader will need work. Do the card readers ALWAYS croak in these thinks, or could I be lucky?



The assumption is that the card reader will need work. Do the card readers ALWAYS croak in these things, or could I be lucky?

The only way you could be lucky, card-reader-wise, is if the rubber roller has already been replaced by a previous owner. The material used in those card readers turns to goo over time, regardless of whether the card reader is heavily used or never at all.

The good news is that this infamous "gummy wheel problem" is totally fixable. Everyone's Favorite Web Site (meaning this one!) has several articles on the subject, and has an excellent reputation when it comes to dealing with that problem as well.

Enjoy your 97 -- probably the coolest calculator ever made!

- Thomas


I plan to enjoy it!

My partner, an eBay wizard, did a little research and it seems that recently a few of these things have gone for somewhat less than what I paid, but I paid far less than frankly I would expect too. (Also, I willingly paid a little extra to a Canadian seller since I would be spared duty and the thing would ship very quickly!) Really wish that mine had some extra goodies--case, the Standard Pac card, some blank mag. cards, etc. Also, the little prongs at the back of the calc than connect to the adapter seem a bit loose, and the connection with the plug is weak though when I pop out the battery current is being delivered. I will be careful with it, though I expect that in time this thing will be making a trip to FixThatCalc if the card reader needs work. The recelled battery gives me hope though--perhaps an earlier user fixed the card reader?

Thank goodness for the DVD--the manual for this thing is huge!



I know this is probably not advised, but the curiosity was killing me:

I cut a length of thin smooth cardboard about the width of a mag. card. Passed it thru the card reader. It doesn't feed thru much of course, and the calc gives an error. But, to my chagrin, when I get it out there is a sheen on it of telltale clear sticky streaks. And, yes, I know what that means.

Thought I would take a look as much as I could. The calc is held together with six screws but I could only get out four. The other two are frozen in there, and I gave up very quickly because I don't want to do any damage (stripped screw heads, cracked plastic, etc.)

The 97 is one of FixThatCalc's pricier repairs, but I was so delighted with the renaissance of my 41CV (really, Randy rescued it from the recycling bin) that in the next little while this TopCat gets an appointment with our great friend in PA. Some folks of told me of the replace o-rings and that you can "do it yerself", but that would be false economy for me. Yes, I paid more than average for this thing to begin with, but if I want to get a lifetime of use out of it I should get it fixed by the expert.

The good news is that I was able to properly reposition to A/C plug prongs. The two little metal things that poke out are supposed to nestle in a little slot and are held in place by the bottom have of the case so they don't get pushed into the calc when the female connecter of the adapter is pressed on them. I was able to get the screws out on that side of the calc to gain quick access and quickly resolve the problem. Now, the A/C adapter attaches snugly and doesn't molest the prongs.

It is a joyous little machine nonetheless though. I have already entered my first HP97 program--a port of a TI57 routine for Simpson's Rule. Easy to port on the fly, since the "language" of the TI57 and early HP keystroke programmables are very similar. Just wish I could save it to a card ;)



Hi, Les --

Congratualations on your HP-97. I've never seriously pursued an HP-67 or HP-97, because I prefer the more-developed, lower-maintenance models of the 1980's. The HP-67/97, I must admit, is distinctive and impressive.

The gummy-wheel card-reader problem is a significant issue to me, becuase I like all functions of a calculator to work properly. It's an additional hassle on the HP-67/97, because the readers are internal.

I received excellent service from eBay seller "plasmoid" (who was mentioned earlier in this thread) on a repair of my gummy-wheel HP-41 card reader. I'd recommend that you look for one of his auctions.

-- KS


I have heard great things about Richard (plasmoid), but for this one I think I have settled on FixThatCalc. I am familiar with Randy's work and his flat rate includes a complete refurbishment of the calculator beyond the card repair. Also, his flat rate includes return shipping. The only drawback with Randy is that he is so good that he is swamped--turn around time is several weeks, and he has even joked with me that he is not beating the bushes for new business! But, like fine wine, good things are worth the wait. Also, as I have sort of become a bit of a collector in recent weeks, I am up to my ears in other HPs to familiarize myself with (45, 33C, 11C, 14B, Stat Pac for the 41 are my more recent acquisitions), I shouldn't miss the 97 for a few weeks.

I am always on the lookout for an HP41 card reader--they seem hard to find! If I can get one that needs service, plasmoid would definitely be my guy.



Les --

I am always on the lookout for an HP41 card reader--they seem hard to find! If I can get one that needs service, plasmoid would definitely be my guy.

Some eBay sellers (including "plasmoid", I think) sell refurbished
HP-41 card readers with the deteriorating polyurethane parts replaced by newer ones of stable material.

-- KS


Thank you--I will write plasmoid (Richard) directly and ask him.




What retro paradise!

Not only retro: The HP-97 is a very ergonomic desktop calculator that is as useful for your daily work now in 2006 as it was in 1978! When I was a student, for some time I worked for a company that made satellite attitude thrusters. For many days in a row I had to evalaute endless sheets of measurement data from test-firings of these little rocket engines. All on an HP-97...

Unforunately, my one 97 rots away in its box because I really have no use for a desktop calculator any more.

Greetings, Max

Edited: 8 Dec 2006, 4:34 a.m.


Oh dear!

Quickly, (I mean today!)...

Carefully package the HP-97 and send it to me.
The pre-1980 HP's have a contagion incorporated into the
keyboard plastic. If you do not remove this calc from your dwelling,
(Heaven Forbid if you actually USE IT!) you may find yourself infected with the incurable disease, Aych-Pea Collectivitus(APC). The symptoms of APC include: fingers itching to handle/fondle the calc, a visual desire to calculate in a dark room, frequent urges to search endlessly on eBay, fits of jealousy, longing sighs resulting from keyboard clicks, impulsively clearing shelf space for future aquisitions, increasing despondency and refusal to have "the Latest and Greatest",
oh yeah, and the ADDICTION...
always craving more, More, MORE!!!

It may be too late and you'll need intervention to save you from yourself. Several of us monitor this forum closely and offer ourselves sacrificially to save others from this plague.
We scour second-hand stores, tag sales and government auctions searching for old HP's to protect our youth from discovering the
perversity of Post-Fix addiction (yes, it's for the CHILDREN!)

We have a 2^nth step program available, but you must WANT to be

Turn back!

Turn back!

Turn baaaaac...


If you can´t reach him, contact me instead... I live farther, with me it will be safer. dB^(

Cheers.. and good luck! (you´ll need it) <8^O

Luiz (Brazil) 8^)

P.S. Congrats, Les. I have an HP97 (a gift) and I follow many good thoughts writen in this thread.

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