Graduating engineer - HP all the way through!


I'm happy to report that I'm graduating next week w/ my engineering degree (mechanical)!

I have been on/and off at this board since 2001, and have thrived in my academic coursework using HPs' exclusively. celebrate, I've been considering the following machines:

1) 42s (Costly~$325+, but supports matrix math and is small)

2) 50g (fast, replaceable, powerful, and reasonably priced)

3) 32sii (Super high price-to-capability ratio, but really miss the one I used to have)

I have decided that if the 50g keyboard is now functional, I will get one. If I can find a reasonably priced 32sii or 42s, then I'll get one of those too.

Is there a consensus on the 50g keyboard?



I'm happy to report that I'm graduating next week w/ my engineering degree (mechanical)!

Congratulations! I know this feeling. I graduated six years ago (EE). Then I purchased one of the last brand new HP-48GX as a gift to myself.

and have thrived in my academic coursework using HPs' exclusively.

Me too (HP-15C, HP-28S, HP-48GX). By the way, TI calculators are virtually unknown here. All my classmates had HP calculators (HP-48G/GX/G+).

As of the HP-50G keyboard I have no complain about it. If you want a second calculator for everyday use I would recommend the HP-32SII you are used to as the HP-33S is somewhat big to carry around. And for matrices you can use the HP-50G. The problem you may encounter when using two calculators is the different position of the ENTER key. Even the modern HP-50G and HP-33S don't follow a standard. I myself use the HP-50G/HP-15C combination. Since one has a portrait layout and the other a landscape layout, I don't make mistakes when switching from one to another.

Best regards,

Gerson (Brazil)


I also use the 50G and 15C for my work. I like having both options of a powerful programmable calculator and a smaller portable one for field work. If I did not already have a 15C I would try to find a 42S.

The 50G keyboard works well for me. I've had mine for a few months now with no problems so far. Amazon has a good deal on the 50G for around $123. You might also check your student bookstore.


Congratulations to your graduation. I have used HP calculators starting from high school with an HP 21 and never changed.
Currently I'm using a HP 32S II to carry around - a small and powerful calculator which I like a lot (I keep three spares to last me the rest of my professional life!). These units can sometimes still be found at halfway reasonable prices (in the range of $120), especially in Europe.
I recently also bought a HP 50g. So far I have no complaints whatsoever, in terms of bang for the buck it is certainly unbeatable; it is almost unbelievable what this thing can do once you get to use all the in's and out's.

Best regards


Congratulations, Eric!

32sii (Super high price-to-capability ratio, but really miss the one I used to have)

If you're used to the HP-32SII, you can't go wrong by getting another (as long as it isn't a 1991 model with bugs in the newly-introduced fractions capability).

I'd recommend the HP-42S if you want something "new".

I don't intend to purchase a 50-series RPL machine. I bought a used HP-48G (US$55 + US$20 for manual), and a HP-49G that I didn't really like -- for full retail when I learned that it was to be discontinued. Both of these have capabilities that no other HP model had, but I don't really like the product paradigm of the RPL-based models.

The KinHPo replacements (48GII, 49G+, 50G) are based on the same paradigm. They have more-capable electronics, but have been plagued by quality-control issues and bad keyboards. For me, why bother?

As for my own history, I got through three degree programs in the 1980's and 1990's with an HP-15C. I did have a look at the HP-32S/SII, HP-42S, and HP-48S in 1991, but wasn't tempted strongly enough to "upgrade". As it turned out, for various reasons I would have preferred the HP-15C to any of the other three, anyway.

-- KS


Kristoph and Steve:

Just for curiosities sake, are either one of you in engineering (mechanical, aero, or structural by chance)?

I'm curious to know how practical you find the 50g on the job...

I've been flirting with the idea of developing little applications that I may find myself frequently making use of, and I know there is a balance between the powerful PC on the desk and the pocketability of the 50g (well not quite, but you can carry it around the shop and out to the field).




I have a PhD in physics but am currently working as a CEO of a mid-size company. Apart from financials, these days I mostly solve engineering problems in thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and climate control. I personally like to solve problems with a calculator, I get more control of what I'm doing while seeing all the intermediate results. For me this is especially true for non-repetitive jobs.
On the other hand, you need to make nice looking documents with graphing, a PC-software like MathCAD is certainly better. In spite of the "g" I think graphing is the (inherent) weakness of a calculator.
For me, a good calculator is always very convient in meetings or with customers. It fires up without booting time, you can anytime and quickly do some "back of the envelope" calculations, and it does not create the sort of barrier between yourself and the customer that a laptop often does.
Personally, I think you might find it useful to have your everyday applications on a calculator. While obviously no replacement for a PC, a calculator like the 50g will probably take you a long way in your everyday work. You might want to check also if your application has already been solved. As a small example, I frequently need to do psychometric calculations, I was up to writing sometimes small myself until I found that there is already a very neat little library which does this very nicely.
I hope these thoughts are somewhat useful to you.

With kind regards,



Thanks for the insights. I agree that a calculator would certainly be more tractable in a one-on-one w/ a customer. I have also visited, and am eager to try out a few of the applications there.

Thanks again,




Think of the world before programables. You guys have choices! That is enough alone. Not really but think of it. My choices At the university in 1967 were limited to the best slide rule and BASIC, COBOL or FORTRAN programs. I remember a few years after graduation getting my TI-59 and publishing an article on the use of a pocket calculator in studies of reliability, parts inventories, queing theory and learning curves for computer service organizations in 1974.

What we couldn't have learned about concepts, relieved of the mechanical calculators and data entry by IBM cards in the sixties! But, on the other hand, I sometimes sit amazed at how I once knew where every slide rule scale found itself contributing its part to present value analysis of income streams compounded daily, not by HP 50G, but by K&E Decilog. Ah, nostalgia. Those swords we wore on our belts that identified the members of our special club.

Best of luck!!



Become a curmudgeon... use an HP-67. LED displays are just so trendily 70's. Besides, it goes whirrrrr.


I agree, the LED HP67/65/29c calculators are something special. As a 3rd year BE(mech) student I have found the HP67 handy in checking heat transfer, stress analysis assignment questions, you just have to practice using it to get the most out of it. I wish I had 'discovered' the above mention units before commencing mathematics, mechanics of fluids and electronics.

For those of you who have worked with Basic and Cobol, these interpreted languages can be 100x times more efficent then modern languages such as Java and C#. They are also more robust (don't fall over).

To quote The Australian Newspaper, 'Old programs living on, but coders wilting' 05Dec2006

"Old languages are widely used in vital applications, but the number of programmers able to work in these legacy languages is shrinking rapidly. Many new developments are being written in Cobol. Older languages still account for between 12% and 15% of new development, and it is concentrated in crucial back-end financial systems. Many global business transactions rely on legacy languages. Half of Japan's credit/debit card transactions run on VOS operating system (fault tolerant operating system, written in PL/I, a legacy language) and it has several very large financial services users in Europe and USA." End quote.

Most of the legacy programmers will be retiring shortly which will create major problems in the future.

Best regards, Paul

Edited: 16 Dec 2006, 7:26 p.m.


For those of you who have worked with Basic and Cobol, these interpreted languages can be 100x times more efficent then modern languages such as Java and C#. They are also more robust (don't fall over).

I would love an example about how they could be "100x times more efficent". Sorry but I don't believe it.


I would love an example about how they (Basic and Cobol) could be "100x times more efficient". Sorry but I don't believe it.

I suspect that the "100x" was not meant to be taken at face value, and I generally doubt that an application written in an interpreted language would run faster than the same application written in a compiled language, especially when optimized for speed.

However, a thread discussed here several years ago mentioned how applications in Java tended to run rather slowly.

One commercial PC-based software program that I use had its graphical interface ported to Java several versions ago; the previous version utilized Windows/PC "X Server" software for graphics. Graphics on the Java-based versions are S-L-O-W to respond to user input!

-- KS


For those of you who have worked with Basic and Cobol, these interpreted languages...

I did, and, IIRC, only found one "interpreted" Cobol; would have to dust off a huge pile of old floppies to find it (and have no 5.25" drive connected to any of my computers right now).

Cobol was meant to be compiled and linked on mainframes, and either produced executables or a sort of tokenized output on PCs.

I am a dinosaur and no longer a programmer, but I was never able to do any good with OOL.



(and have no 5.25" drive connected to any of my computers right now).

Interesting... I just installed a dual 5.25/3.5 inch floppy in my computer last week. I had to pay $6 for it. I did not have a need for 5.25 inch floppies for many years, but this year I needed to read them numerous times. I had to drag another box out of storage each time. Now, I suspect I will never need to read another one again.



Most of the legacy programmers will be retiring shortly which will create major problems in the future.

I have been reading variations of this statement for many, many years now but I still have my doubts about its validity.

First of all, we "legacy programmers" (I am no programmer, but an aerospace engineer who also writes computer code in "old fashioned" languages like FORTRAN - pure "programmers" have retired long ago and this profession is no longer taught, at least in my part of the world ...) have a long way to go till we reach the age of retirement.

And secondly, most "old fashioned" computer languages can be learnt within a few days/weeks. So if there really comes a need for more COBOL/BASIC/FORTRAN programmers, people with a background in engineering or computer science can be trained within very short time! If the figure on the cheque is right, I would be happy to teach people FORTRAN and COBOL any time anywhere - just give me a ring :-)

And regarding the original question: As an aerospace engineer, I have no use at all for a pocket calculator in my job. Summing up working hours is the best use I can find, but even this is stupid, because in the end I have to type them into some network-spreadsheet on the computer. I take a different calculator with me every day, but apart from impressing (some) colleagues, I put it back in my backpack in the evening without having touched it all day most days. The last time I really used a calculator at work was during my Ph.d., but that was a few years back, and when I was halfway through the thing, our boss bought us a copy of "Mathematica" and the calculator (a Ti-59 then) went back into the drawer...

Greetings, Max


It is worth noting that the BASIC language, invented by Professors Kemeny and Kurtz at Dartmouth University in 1963-64, was originally a compiled language. It was invented so that non-engineering students could have a simple, easy-to-learn way to use the computer. Simplicity was one of its design goals, and that is a primary reason it is still in use today, 43 years later. I always appreciated "simple."

BASIC became an interpreted language when Bill Gates had to fit it in the available memory of the Altair. My first exposure to BASIC was on a HP-2000 minicomputer in 1972, in college, using a Teletype, acoustic coupler, and that old yellow roll paper. It was a great way to get started in the programming field, and we owe a lot to Kemeny and Kurtz for "keeping it simple."

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