HP97 $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ :-)


Ebay Link


I paid just under $200 for my 97. The condition is great, but the card reader does not work (of course!), and the battery just died recently. I got no extras, apart from the adapter. I thought I paid a little too much, but as I bought from a fellow Canadian there were no issues with duty and the thing shipped quickly.

Though the sale looks impressive on several levels (condition, extras and completeness, and the historical significance of the last owner), I take note that almost all of the bids are from zero feedback bidders, and I wonder if something fishy is going on.

I have the collector bug, and I love the HP97 (I can't wait to get the card reader fixed in mine, since that is the only thing that is wrong with it), but I wouldn't touch this sale with a barge pole. It doesn't smell right.



Interesting...and contradictive:

Other than the box being opened to put an asset sticker on, it shows no sign of being used.

Absolutely no wear at all on the keys or case.

The only things keeping it from being a solid 10 are two small scratches on the flat area in front of the printer, and a couple of very minor scuffs on the display lens. You have to really look at a bottom view angle to see it.


Another contradiction (sort of) is the claim that the card reader works. Unless the thing has been refurbished, the wheels will go gooey soon, and the new owner will be faced with that repair, though after $1600 what's a little extra?

Of course, if the thing has been kept in a cupboard and never used, it is possible, the card reader wheel has escaped the typical degradation--for now!



Also, the less the printer has been used, the worse the degradation of the paper advance rollers. I have a couple of NIB HP'97's (including S/N 00006 from the first week) and they had the worst cams I have ever seen.


Oh how I wish there was a separate hpmuseum ebay forum so I could discuss this auction without being attacked for discussing anything having to do with that auction site.

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 8:11 a.m.


aw, go ahead mad dog, but make it brief... ;-)


Okay Steve, since you asked.

Did the seller actually read from or write to the magnetic cards? Yes, they ran through, but did that functionality work? A newbie might assume that. I would not. I hope the bidders asked the seller.

Also, I bet seller, being from NM, got this package for no more than a few bucks. Nothing to criticize with that, but just envy... Anyway, I wish seller best of luck trying to collect up the money from the newbie winning bidder!

Originally I wrote a few other points, but I'll be brief as per your request.

To everyone else: please no attacks, mistaken accusations of libel, or anything like that for answering Steve.

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 9:10 a.m.


Jeez, 'Nut, you tease....

I think this is a case that it is so unusual that is worth hearing what you have to say in full, just as we would if this listing turned up anywhere else than on the auction site that dare not speak its name around here.

I personally think the card reader is due for crumpitude any day now. Also, the box is banged up. The calc was stored in that box all those years, which means the contents were jostled.

Also, there is a very good chance that the battery leaked too....

Are these points on your list?



Hi Les,

Battery stuff was on my list. Admittedly, I did not think of jostling until your suggestion, but that may also have happened.

I just love all the battery disclaimers. C'mon. If the battery works like seller claims, should not need all the disclaimers.

Seller states "reconditioned to bring it up to specs and will operate the calculator for a few hours and it also keeps a charge for over a week." Then immediately disclaims by stating


and later

"Sold with our 100% guarantee good on arrival. Minus the battery issue that we do not guarantee as a rule for all of our auctions."

Just say that battery pack works as described and guarantee it for a month or something. However, in seller's defense, they might be worried about someone substituting their own crappy battery pack and claiming it is junk. I might give them a pass, but usually calculator collectors are not scam artists.

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 9:27 a.m.


The battery disclaimers are wise. Many ancient nicad packs works for a short while after being resurrected, but they do usually fail a short time later.

As far as corrosion, the sub-C cells used in the HP97 pack tend not to leak and corrode. I figure mayby 10% of the (hundreds) of packs I have had had some minor white crystal deposits (granted that this one is from Los Alamos and any white crystals could well be meth) and only one or two had enough leakage to damage contacts.


But should the batteries not work for at least a little while as the seller described? I agree about long term guarantee (for what a long term guarantee is worth on the unmentionable auction website), but what if the battery is not capable of doing anywhere near what is advertised in the listing upon receipt? I think a 2 week guarantee upon receipt (at the least) would be suitable.

Seller did say

reconditioned to bring it up to specs and will operate the calculator for a few hours and it also keeps a charge for over a week.

after all

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 12:39 p.m.



My general question for you as an individual selling something like an HP-67, HP-97, HP-41 Card reader and the like .. is this .. what kind of fair and reasonable guarantees can you offer? The one extreme that you (me, and others on this forum) have rightfully complained about is the "I wash my hands from any malfunction" kind of guarantee. We are all in agreement here that this type of guarantee is not fair for the buyer. The other extreme type of guarantee would be having the seller (typically an individual) offer an iron-clad guarantee that HP itself USED TO OFFER when the product was brand new. But today, HP does NO SUCH thing anymore regarding the old calculators and accessories (batteries, printers, card readers, cassette drives, and so).

So where is the middle ground that is fair for both seller and buyer. I see the "guarantee not to be DOA" guarantee ... but what if the calculator (or accessories0 fails the second type you turn it on (say a week after you received it and checked it the first time)?

Now, how a bout a "short-term" type of guarantee? That seems mor reasonable, yes? The question is who determines this period and what basis??? This nice middle ground is hard to attain, unfortunately!

Buying vintage items is a risky business by nature, regardless of what the seller says and what the buyer hopes for. If HP itself NO LONGER STANDS BEHIND THESE VINTAGE PRODUCTS, WHY DO WE EXPECT INDIVIDUALS (WITH NO BACKING FROM HP) TO OFFER LONG TERM GUARANTEE?



Hi Namir,

I suggested a middle of the road 2 week or a month upon receipt of item guarantee. With tracking and such stuff, that would be easy enough to determine, eh?

Look, if someone sells something and boasts about how well it works, but is not willing to stand behind it at all, what is the use of the boasting?

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 1:49 p.m.



I was asking your opinion about a short-term guarantee. A period of 2 to 4 weeks sounds very reasonable. I am curious if other folks on this form share our view??

I agree with you that when a seller boasts of the quality of a vintage calculator/accessories he should offer some reasonable guarantee, like the one you mentioned. I myself have not seem this kind of guarantee, except for refurbished card readers performed by fine eBay members (like plasmoid). I am not very sure that folks who sell new batteries for the HP35/45/55/65/67 offer this kind of guarantee, but I expect them to do so.

Actually, I hope that our discussion brings forth the issue of reasonable short-term guarantee. I have been thinking about this topic for some time and was curious to hear what other folks deem as a short-term guarantee. In the cases of the card readers and the batteries, the folks who work on these accessories should have a sound insight on how long these accessories should last without problems.

Any other feedback from folks out there??

A new thread with this topic may be worthwhile.


Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 2:19 p.m.


Regarding gaurantees, first, we have to assume thay we're discussing something that is claimed to be in good working condition, unless you want to inlclude the broken calculators where the seller says "I gaurantee that this calculator really is broken!"

Now, a working unit that is 25-30 years old has already met and exceded or begun to excede a reasonable working life, so, what should the seller and buyer do? What we are doing as collectors or users, buyers or sellers, is bringing specific knowledge to bear on the situation. As a statistic, a 30 year old calculator may not be reasonably expected to have a useful life for much longer. But we're not dealing with statistics, we're dealing with specific instances. The knowledgable seller knows the condition of his calculator. The knowledgable buyer relies on an honest representation of the condition by the seller. It is this representation that is being gauranteed, not the calculator. Actually, a calculator that has worked well for the last 30 years will probably continue to work well for the forseeable future. The gaurantee is to cover the 'bet', so to speak, in case the buyer finds that the seller misrepresented the condition or performance of the calculator.

But the seller is betting as well, on the honesty of the buyer. A dishonest buyer might take advantage of a gaurantee by swapping in a bad circuit board and claiming it stopped working within the period of gaurantee.

So, it seems to me that a gaurantee should be worded something like this: I the seller gaurantee that this calculator is in the condition described, and that the buyer will recieve it in the same condition, and that it is reasonable to assume it will continue to perform as it did while in my posession, but the continued life of the unit becomes the responsibility of the new owner at transfer of ownership, minus a short grace period during which buyer promises not to abuse, modify, enhance, or service the unit.


Many ancient nicad packs works for a short while after being resurrected, but they do usually fail a short time later.

I can attest to that personally. My HP97 came with an original battery that amazed me with its apparent capacity to hold a good charge, but it began to fail within a couple of weeks, and is pretty useless now. Likewise with an HP41 Thermal Printer. The original battery pack was not so robust, but it did hold enough of a charge to allow good operation from the AC. However that crumped soon too. Fortunately, one of Mark Hoskins' packs arrived just today, and works like a charm both in the printer and the HP97.



First, let me say to those who are opposed to ebay discussions on this board, since there are collectors as well as users here, I believe ebay discussions are justified, since ebay buying and selling has become an integral part of the collecting hobby, and this auction in particular warrants discussion due to the high price. If you find this thread annoying, kindly don't read it nor interfere with those who find it interesting. Thank you.

Mad Dog, I would like to formally invite whatever input you wish to share.

Now back to the discussion at hand.

The high price of this auction warrants particular scrutiny, and imo it doesn't hold up well. Regarding the card reader:

We ran a card through the card reader several times and it performs quickly, perfectly and very quietly.

'performs perfectly' when applied to a technological device means it properly performs the functions for which it was designed, which in this case means it both wrote to and read from a card, yet that is not explicity said.

Maybe the seller didn't know the price would go this high, but since it is, I think there should be no ambiguity in the description.

Do you know what's strange? With all of this ambiguity and contradiction in the description, no one has bothered to ask the seller for clarification, yet they bid it up to $1600?


Thanks for your words of encouragement Steve!

I really hope sellers from that unmentionable auction website that look at this forum use these suggestions to improve clarity.

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 9:34 a.m.


Good grief! This is just a macho contest between two newbies who probably don't realize what they are doing. Happens all the time. One of them will be the unfortunate high bidder when the auction closes, and I'd be willing to bet that they won't pay. The real loser here is the seller, whose time was wasted.


Not to mention the $40- or so of final value fees that the unmentionable auction website will charge the seller and the hassle to get it refunded from that same unmentionable auction website.

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 11:29 a.m.


This auction is rather odd considering that another HP 97, due to end about 4 hours before, is sitting at $152. It is very suspicious that the two high bidders joined ebay in December within 3 days of each other and both have 0 feedback.

I would note that if the high bidder retracted his bid in the last few minutes, the auction would sudenly drop to about $160. Bidder #2 would then get the item at a very good price. No one would bid against him as everyone knows, his proxy bid is set at over $1500.


The unmentionable auction website has a mechanism against that. You can only retract within an hour of your bid if it is the last 12 hours of the auction.

And if you retract within the last 12 hours of the auction, it may only cancel your last bid (however, this point is unclear from policy).

Unmentionable auction website retraction policy

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 1:18 p.m.


Well, he's got a couple hours then to retract his bid.

HOWEVER: Since my last post, the high bidder has received positive feedback on the purchase of another HP 97 for $250 U.S. So it looks like he might be for real. Go figure.


No they don't have time. Buyer placed their enormous bids several hours ago! A retraction now would not eliminate those bids!

Edited: 7 Jan 2007, 1:44 p.m.


OK. I see what your saying.
(Ive never retracted, so I hadn't bothered to read it that close.)

Even if he retracted now, he couldn't get out the bid, He's proxied himself up with 4 bids OVER the current bid amount. He really wants it.

Wow! I'm going to have to sell my Vette, if I want to pick up a few more calculators - (NOT going to happen!)

On another note, there is a rare HP 19C on the unmentionable site AND
I am currently the high bidder!

You guys are going to let me win it. Right?


Hmm. $250 is high, but not an order of magnitude out of line like the referenced auction. I wonder if the bidder is starting to realize his mistake?

Taking the auction description at face value, this appears to be an unusually nice and complete HP-97 package. Has anyone else obtained a better machine + shrink wrapped docs + accessories? (The value here would be original equipment and packaging, not necessarily functionality of the printer and card reader.) Not that the quality, if as described, is actually worth anything near the outrageous price attached to this auction.



For what it's worth, I sent the seller a question several hours ago asking about the condition of the card reader. With about an hour left in the auction, I still haven't gotten a response.


SOLD for $3250.00

Weren't these things going for $100-$200 a few months back?
Does this one come with Los Alamos Secret Programs or something?


Crazy, just crazy.


I've got two. Who wants one? $1625.00 apiece, half price!


I've got two. Who wants one? $1625.00 apiece, half price!

I'd take one Howard, but the low price makes me suscpicous. There must be something terribly wrong with them.


I actually got my 97 for free. Both the card reader and the printer still work.


Truth be told, both have slow printers, and I haven't yet repaired the card reader on one. But that's why I'm offering a 50% discount!

It also occurs to me that Coburlin needs to add this buyer to his "favorites" list. 8)



It also occurs to me that Coburlin needs to add this buyer to his "favorites" list. 8)

Now now, Howard, the last thing we need is another bandwidth-sucking "eBay vs. no eBay" flame war, with various temper tantrums and allegations of libel and whatnot.... ;)




Now now, Howard, the last thing we need is another bandwidth-sucking "eBay vs. no eBay" flame war, with various temper tantrums and allegations of libel and whatnot.... ;)


Farthest thing from my mind, Les. 8)




Bid up over 3k by two people, each with only one feedback, each having recently purchased a 97 with extras for about $250 to $350. So they goet in a bidding war going to ten times market, for a second machine.

That's weird.

Basically, All I have to say is, "beware of the tulips".



That's weird.

Basically, All I have to say is, "beware of the tulips".

Yes, or the poppies!

Kansas? I don't think so..



My only question is if the seller is actually going to be paid or if these two crazy bidders are just going to ditch their current accounts and create a new one. While the seller could get the fees refunded, it's still a pain if the buyer does not uphold his end of the "bargain."


Two One-Feedback bidders running it up? I think there was something funny going on and I bet it's not paid for.


Two One-Feedback bidders running it up? I think there was something funny going on and I bet it's not paid for.

I agree, it seems fishy. They could have been trying to bait a sucker, or coax closeted 97's onto the market so they could build up stock to sell later at jacked up prices. Who knows, but i'm suspicious. I sent the seller a question early on the last day, several hours before the auction ended, and never got a response, and none of the other bidders asked any questions (I think ebay automatically posts questions and answers on the auction page), yet the wording of the auction certainly warranted questions.


The seller has the option of adding the question and his answer to the listing. It is not automatic.


Still, my question was never answered. You would think with this much money at stake the seller would be careful to answer all inquiries. My question was very polite and asked about the condition of the card reader.


I've done business with the seller before, because he often auction the type of 1930s and later radio gear that I collect. I was very surprised to see him appear in the arena of old calculator sales.

All my dealings with him have been totally satisfactory. He seems to be completely honest and above board. You'll notice that his starting bid for this 97 was reasonable. I just hope he doesn't get burned.



They both started out as zero feedback sellers but wound up being "1" feedbacks. Both bought HP-97's. Seems rather fishy, but possible. I wonder if the bidders would like to buy this bridge I own in Brooklyn?


They both started out as zero feedback sellers but wound up being "1" feedbacks. Both bought HP-97's. Seems rather fishy, but possible. I wonder if the bidders would like to buy this bridge I own in Brooklyn?

That's funny, I own a brigde in Brooklyn too. Cool!


Maybe the unmentionalble site should require that new users post a small 'bond' ($25?) to be used against the first 'win'. I suspect that those high bids were the work of the same person, either for fun or vengeance...

Edited: 9 Jan 2007, 1:34 p.m.

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