Irrational HP 50g Lust



#43

I flunked out of physics/math in college, not from lack of interest but, rather, discipline. Now I'm a happy attorney who still remembers the good old days of programming on a TI-59. I do my taxes on an HP 15c (greatest calculator ever) and keep an HP 10B on my desk at work. I want to buy an HP 10BII but have even less justification than for getting a 50G

My question: I want to get a 50G, only about $123 from a certain retailer named after a rain forest/large women, is it sacrilege to get such an incredible tool to essentially just play and explore with?

For the same price I could get MapleSoft or something else that makes more sense a thousand different way, but I have this insatiable lust for the 50G...the uber-calculator. As I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, every year or two, a more amazing calculator would come out and it was so exciting. I think I want to re-live some of the wonder of my youth playing around with a 50G.

Am I crazy?


#44

"For the same price I could get MapleSoft or something else that makes more sense a thousand different way, but I have this insatiable lust for the 50G...the uber-calculator"

Does it make more sense to have MapleSoft? I just so happen to purchase an older copy and you know what? I don't (willingly) carry a laptop or pc around. But I often travel with an Hp to hack away at simple math problems. And what better tool than an Uber-Calculator for such recreation!

I will admit, if I am writing a report or something formal, the calculator is not the best tool for finishing the job, but it is a great starting tool to flesh out the math.

Do you do formal reports that require advance MapleSoft software? If so, then yes, Maple is your better buy. But if you are a recreational user (like I am 90% of the time), the Hp calculator is far more useful (as I have both, but I admit, I need a math package for reports, and I could make a laptop work, but a PC ISN'T a real substitute for a calculator for me anyway).


#45

Quote:
Do you do formal reports that require advance MapleSoft software?
I have absolutely no need or use for MapleSoft or an HP 50G. However, I very much WANT and HP 50G. Usually, I can rationalize some need or use for stuff I buy...not so for the 50G. Only that I'll enjoy fiddling around with it.

I should be working right now, but I'm surfing calculator porn (pictures of calculators), reading user manuals and trying out emulators to get my fix.


#46

Calculator porn - That's funny!


#47

What do you think the userRPL command ANIMATE was intended for. . . ?

TW


#48

55378008

71077345

I miss the good old days of red LED displays.


#49

The good old days... When the "red light district" was the electronics counter at Service Merchandise.

And 07734 to you.

Edited: 6 Mar 2007, 4:33 p.m.


#50

Oh, how I used to look forward to the Service Merchandise catalog and spend hours pouring over it.

I remember when I saw my first LCD calculator thinking how flat and unreliable the display looked, like the wrong number could just flicker up at anytime.

#51

Go for it! That's what I did.

I was in high school from 77-81, right when programmable calculators became accessible. When I started high school, text books had tables in the back for sin(x), tan(x), ln(x) and you had to learn on a slide rule. Then the TI-30 came out. It cost about $30 as I recall and it did scientific calculations with great speed an accuracy.

Anyway, I got hooked on programming with an HP 29C. Graduated to a 41C when it came out, and got a 41CV in 1981 in college. I've used it steadily ever since.

Fast forward 26 years and my daughter needed a good calculator for math. I got her a TI 84+ (they recommended the TI83, which is compatible). "Hmm. I wonder what HP has done with calculators over the past 26 years?"

Within 3 weeks I bought an HP50g and I've been playing with it ever since. It's quite a fun machine!

A couple words of warning though:

1. When you aren't editing a value, the right arrow key executes x<>y (which is now called SWAP). This highly usful fact is buried deep DEEP in the documentation.

2. Don't even bother opening the "user's manual" that comes with the calculator. Download the "Users Guide" from the website. It's an expanded version of the manual. The manual will be good as a "quick reference guide" after you learn the thing.

3. Even the User's Guide is pretty awful. Just stick with it. You'll probably find yourself reading and re-reading the first 3 chapters before you can figure the thing out. Some of the big changes are:
- the stack size is limited only by memory
- it does symbolic math
- the programming language is completely different


4. When you get to the chapter on programming, put down the User's Guide and download the HP 49 Advanced User's Manual (AUM) instead. This describes programming the calculator in far more detail, which is to say that it's more-or-less adequate.

The bottom line is that calculators have made gigantic advances since you and I used them heavily. I've been playing with mine almost every evening for a couple of weeks. Great entertainment (okay, I've a serious nerd). The downside is that the documentation is truly atrocious.


#52

Excellent advice on the manuals/guides. I would likely print them out and get them comb/spiral bound or put them in a binder. Prefer to have them open on a table rather than on a screen.


#53

Quote:
Excellent advice on the manuals/guides. I would likely print them out and get them comb/spiral bound or put them in a binder. Prefer to have them open on a table rather than on a screen.

Be warned: I did exactly that, printing them double-sided in booklet-style, so they'd be hand-book sized. They each ended up requiring a two-inch comb, the User's Guide barely fitting that. These manuals are very thick especially in relation to the information density.

I suppose I won't be scaring an attorney by talking about thick books, though.

#54

Quote:
My question: I want to get a 50G, only about $123 from a certain retailer named after a rain forest/large women, is it sacrilege to get such an incredible tool to essentially just play and explore with?

Are you looking for permission? I, a fellow human being, who does not especially need any of his many, many calculators in the practice of his chosen profession, hereby grant it.

Visualize this: you are holding a slim black object in your hand, and it is displaying a custom menu of your own making, containing a few collected functions. On the display is a beautiful equation -- say, e^pi^i-1 = 0. You manipulate it it using a few keystrokes, rearranging the terms. You press a newly assigned key and the equation library pops up, ready for you to explore. Another few keystrokes, and you derive the required payment for a new car given the rate advertised in the newspaper. You enter and multiply two matrices. You murmer to yourself, "I am holding the most advanced, most powerful handheld calculator in the world."

Now ask yourself: are you happy in this visualization?

Either way, your course is clear. It's OK to be happy.

I am...


#55

Quote:
Are you looking for permission? I, a fellow human being, who does not especially need any of his many, many calculators in the practice of his chosen profession, hereby grant it.

Yeah, I guess I did kinda go to the corner bar and ask the guy drooped over his Xth beer whether I should have a cold one myself. Kind of telling since I didn't pose the question in a money management or how-to-get-along-with-your-spouse forum.


#56

Quote:
Yeah, I guess I did kinda go to the corner bar and ask the guy drooped over his Xth beer whether I should have a cold one myself. Kind of telling since I didn't pose the question in a money management or how-to-get-along-with-your-spouse forum.

<grins> It does provide a hint for your introspective purposes, doesn't it?

Calculator lust is a powerful thing. This "explains" my several dozen calcs. Heck, I've got several dozen calculator programs for my Palm.

Maybe you were spared the similar "watch lust", which occasionally prompts me to go spend some money on a new (or old) watch. Like this one: The Cathode Corner Nixie Tube Watch


#57

Quote:
Heck, I've got several dozen calculator programs for my Palm.

Oh yeah, played around A LOT with the 48SX, 48GX, and 49G for Palm.

I only have a minor digital/triathlon type watch fixation, I'm better able to keep it under control now that I don't have time to work out much.

#58

Quote:
For the same price I could get MapleSoft or something else that makes more sense a thousand different way,
Can you? I just checked current pricing on Maple, Mathematica, and MatLab at their respective websites. The standard retail cost for each is in the $1,800 to $1,900 range. You can't get such software for a price comparable to the ~ $125 cost of an HP-50G, unless you can qualify for an academic discount.

If you want to play around and explore mathematics and programming, clearly the 50G is a much better deal than the software.


#59

Get both the software and the 50G. You can afford them.

#60

You are correct, I was counting on a student version. At those prices, it would be cheaper to enroll somewhere and get the student discount.

So is there a general consumer, approximately $100, semi-ultimate math program for PCs?


#61

You could go through the trouble to enroll in a class, etc. but whatever software you'd buy will still depend on the operating system and computer you load it on. With Mathematica, if you upgrade your computer or operating system, you'll have to call them up to get a new pass (and they'll want your latest transcripts or schedule to confirm that you're still a student)....

On the other hand, whatever you learn about the HP-50g will be valid and useful as long as you have it.

-Jonathan

#62

Don,

If you enjoy "playing" with high-powered PC software for scientific computing there are a more than a few programs available. Many are even 100% free.

Numerical linear algebra: Matlab, and its free clones octave, scilab, and Rlab.

Statistics: Stata, S, and its free variant R.

Symbolic math: Mathematica, Maple, the less well known semi-commercial MuPad, plus the free Axiom and Maxima.

The newest "Kid on the Block" of rather powerful free software for math applications is SAGE (Software for Algebra and Geometry Exploration) which is a meta-program that serves as interface to many free and commercial libraries. It caters to serious mathematicians working in number theory, algebra and algebraic geometry.

If you want to play but only have access to a Windows computer, I recommend that you burn a Quantian DVD. It contains quite a few scientific applications and will probably keep you busy (playing) for a while. Or you can download SAGE for Windows.

Eduardo


#63

Wow, great suggestions. I'll definitely do some exploring.

Thanks!

#64

Don't forget one of the most powerful programming environments, that most people don't know they own--MS Excel. With VBA and solver, plus the analysis toolpack, it does it all except some plots and symbolic math. With precision every bit as good as most applications (except for esoteric issues that are more suitable for Matlab or Mathematica. Mathcad is no more accurate I've found for most functions.)

The symbolic capability on the 50g is quite nice. I purchased one on a whim after spending oodles on a palm device with lots of calculators. I like pushing buttons more than using the pens, although there are some very cool aplications like Powergraph and PDACalc (which is like Matlab.) Problem with PDAs is battery power.

Cheers,

LouP

#65

Quote:
Am I crazy?

Funny you should ask.

I am a psychiatrist who has taken time away from full-time practice to study music. HP calculators could not be more useless in my day-to-day professional and academic life.

But I own twenty of them, 18 of those acquired over the last year, as well as various peripherals and modules for the HP41. I have spent piles of money and lots of time. I also play around with Maple, Mathematica, and Matlab. This monkeying around, with no practical, professional, or academic motivation at all, consumes several hours of my life on most days.

The funny thing about math is that folks often feel very strange about enjoying it for its own sake--it has be oh so practical and utilitarian lest you risk being accused of hopeless nerdiness. No one ever seems to struggle like this over enjoying art, music, or literature. This is a shame. I think there was a time in recent history when being well-read, artistically adept, and numerate were all seen as part and parcel of the well-educated package.

If you are crazy for wanting to splurge a hundred bucks on a 50G just to have some fun, then I am so far gone that it is unlikely I will ever be shocked back into coherence :)

Buy the 50G, and a nice financial too while you are at it. Have fun. You have my personal and professional blessing.

Les

Edited: 6 Mar 2007, 9:14 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


#66

Quote:
The funny thing about math is that folks often feel very strange about enjoying it for its own sake.

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Fortunate they who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.

----Edna St. Vincent Millay


#67

Ah, a mathematical reference from a melancholic and likely alcoholic poet (she was probably intoxicated during the fall that killed her far too young at 58).

What more could a math- and literature-loving psychiatrist possibly want?

Les


#68

Les,

Check your uwo.ca mailbox.

#69

Quote:
I want to buy an HP 10BII but have even less justification than for getting a 50G

That's the perfect justification: buy both and then write an article for Datafile illustrating the differences (or similarities) between the financial functions on the 10bii and those on the 50G. Simple. :-)
#70

Just for some absurdity, let's ride the metaphor train for just a moment...

You walk into a bar, ask all the people having/enjoying a drink (some of whom are alcoholics) if you should have a drink? What do you think the response would be?

It comes off snarky, but it is not meant to be. You absolutely should purchase one of these little gems. Why?

Because you are utilizing an intellectual pursuit as a hobby. Many people indulge in gratuitous, or destructive hobbies. 123 dollars is a small entry fee for a tool that can do so much.

Suffering from calculator lust is not a serious disease. If this is your 300th calculator, and you steal them out of Walmarts just to possess them, then I would say you have a problem. Unlike Les, IANAP. I don't know you, but from your post I would say that you are most likely a responsible adult with a reasonable degree of humanity and do not have the dreaded "Narcissitic Personality Syndrome" which affects more and more people each year. (If your post said "I deserve it", that would be different).

Don't analyze it. Do it.

#71

Get the 50g! It would be far less expensive than trying to get a mint 41CX, 15C, or other immensely popular HP scientific from 20+ years ago. But beware, once I got bitten by the bug, about $4k just jumped out of my pocket over a short period of time due to lust. I've since sold off 2/3 of my collection to another collector (but retain some favorites) to recoup of my losses, only to spend it on table tennis gear. So if you have an obsessive personality like the rest of us, try to set some limits early on so you don't go overboard. What's going to happen is that you start craving the build quality of the older calcs, then you want one, or two, then three and four, and so on. So enjoy that 50g, but try to stick to your predetermined limits.

#72

Don> only about $123 from a certain retailer..

Check again, that same retailer is selling the 50G for $114.85.

I don't have one yet (since my 49G+ is working so nicely), but I've built a serial cable that is electrically and connector compatible with the 50G, so I'm dying to try it out (HP doesn't make/sell one). So at this price, I may have to bite-the-bullet and get one anyway.

Matt


#73

Quote:
Check again, that same retailer is selling the 50G for $114.85.
That's the price I saw too, but I was adding in s&h, $123 to my doorstep!
#74

Go for it and enjoy!


Even if you get bored with it after a couple of weeks, wasting $123 is nothing compared to buying the wrong car, booking the wrong vacation, moving to the wrong neighborhood, etc...


The HP RPL calculators are a lot of fun to explore and play with, even if you don't actually need them. I don't have a 50g myself, but if you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy my 48G, then trust me, it'll be money well spent.


(And I don't need my 48G either! I'm a computer programmer and I never take a calculator to work, unless you count my HP-42S simulator...)

- Thomas

Edited: 5 Mar 2007, 10:03 p.m.

#75

Don, buy yourself the 50g and look into Mathcad version 13 or 14 for around $300 for your desktop or laptop. Mathcad is built on the engine for Maple which is in the $1700 range. I can speak personally for release 13 which was a serious improvement over release 11. Forget 12.

The 50g is an amazing piece of equipment. You are correct in thinking to create copies of the user guide and advanced reference manuals for the 50g. Use Adobe reader to get your copies at Staples or office depot. My bound manuals cost about $30 each. By the way, the advanced user manual is still called the 49, but about 99% useful for the 50. I am retired from corporate employment, where I reached the level of Director of Product Assurance for a competitor of IBM. I spent my early years at IBM in general systems involving main frames and peripherals (as opposed to special purpose computers for satelites, for example.) I hope you aren't crazy because that would make me raving. I can lose a half day or more if I take my 50g to the breakfast table. I just enjoy the old challenges with the ability to solve some differential equations or integrals and show me the methods used if I want. One can choose between algerbraic or RPN, symbolic and nunerical, etc.

I am programming the 50g to solve a cash manager's approach to Internal Rate of Return removing the fallacy of traditional methods. You might be interested in the simplicity of the solution to allow irregular periods if you do this kind of investment modeling. I turned 76 last week, so I might be a little slow finishing the project, but I have to say that my "irrational" relationship with this device gives me a great sense of achievent, which I need in the after life.

One of the subjects you should master early on is the difference between local and globle variables. Locals get an addtitional dimension over RPN use when compiled. Worth a couple of hours study to avoid confusion, especially when programming interactively.

Edited: 5 Mar 2007, 10:27 p.m.

#76

Subtotal of Items: $117.99

Shipping & Handling: $6.17

Super Saver Discount: -$6.17

------

Total for this Order: $117.99


Shipping estimate for these items: March 12, 2007

Delivery estimate: March 19, 2007 - March 23, 2007

1 "HP 50G Graphing Calculator"

Sold by: Amazon.com

How could I argue with all the logic that everyone shared. Thanks for making me feel good about my wanna-be hobby.


#77

Regarding the manuals, get the hp 49g+/ hp 48gII graphing calculator advanced user's reference manual instead of (or in addition to) the 49G manual.

If your 50g comes with ROM revision 2.08 (check this with the VERSION command), upgrade it to 2.09 or Bernard Parisse's 2.10-7. Optionally, install libraries 226 and 227 for the equation library and 229 for the periodic table. Use the libraries that come with 2.10-7, also available at Hydrix.

This forum is good, but for RPL models, you'd probably be better off with the usenet group comp.sys.hp48. In case you don't already use a newsreader, you can also access it (including the archive) through http://groups.google.com/group/comp.sys.hp48.

Regards,
James

#78

Congratulations!

After all, what price joy?

#79

No it is NOT saclidge to get the 50g. It is money well spent. So go for it.

Glad to know that I am not the only one that has a desire to obtain calculators.

#80

Regarding the 10B11, I think you would be very dissatisfied with it if you believe it is actually a 10B upgrade. I bought a 10B11 and found it very unsatisfactory. It was finally relegated to the glove compartment of a pickup and thankfully it died a mysterious death. The 50g, now that's a different story. Go for it.

jd


#81

I don't think the 10BII is an "upgrade" as much as it is a "refinement" according to the HP-10B/10BII Comparison.

Plus, the 10BII just looks more HP-Old-School.

#82

Quote:
Am I crazy?

We all are ....

#83

DO IT!

#84

It arrived today and it is BEAUTIFUL! At work, so no time to play right now. Actually pulled out an old calc book over the weekend to bone up on some math I haven't looked at for twenty years. It really felt good to get away from the keyboard and work problems again with a mechanical pencil and notebook paper on a clipboard.

I feel like a person who doesn't know how to drive who owns a Ferrari.


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