Cash for your trash?



#2

The article "Cash for Your Trash" on page 19 of the March/April 2007 issue of AARP - The Magazine states in part

"... There's nostalgia value in early high-tech artifacts. 'We're progressing so rapidly that things from the '80s and '90s are becoming collectibles' ... ... An Apple IIe computer, that '80's pacesetter, recently fetched $6,100. A 1982 HP programmable scientific calculator went for $425."

I presume that the calculator was an H-15c.

I hate to see this sort of thing published. When an article which declared that slide rules were collectible was published in the New York Times back in the 1990's there was an immediate jump in prices at antique stores and an immediate shortage of slide rules in thrift stores. Of course, I admit that the value of my existing collection jumped as well.

And, yes, I am more than old enough to belong to AARP.


#3

Hi, Palmer --

Quote:
The article "Cash for Your Trash" on page 19 of the March/April 2007 issue of AARP - The Magazine states in part

"... There's nostalgia value in early high-tech artifacts. 'We're progressing so rapidly that things from the '80s and '90s are becoming collectibles' ... ... An Apple IIe computer, that '80's pacesetter, recently fetched $6,100. A 1982 HP programmable scientific calculator went for $425."

I presume that the calculator was an (HP-15C).


But the difference is that the HP still serves its intended purpose quite well, while the Apple IIe is an obsolete relic that takes up considerable space by comparison.

Quote:
I hate to see this sort of thing published. When an article which declared that slide rules were collectible was published in the New York Times back in the 1990's there was an immediate jump in prices at antique stores and an immediate shortage of slide rules in thrift stores. Of course, I admit that the value of my existing collection jumped as well.

That works both ways, too. HP-16C's and HP-IL's used to be somewhat rare on eBay; the high prices brought them out of the woodwork.

-- KS



#4

I'm not sure I understand this statement:

Quote:
But the difference is that the HP still serves its intended purpose quite well, while the Apple IIe is an obsolete relic that takes up considerable space by comparison.

My HP-41C still works just as well as it did in 1981. It still works fine for simple manual calculations as well as running more elaborate programs such as sidereal time conversion.

My Apple IIe still works just as well as it did in 1984. It still works fine for word processing, spreadsheets, games, and other uses.

Both are obsolete from the point of view of the technology with which they are built, but both work just as well today as they did when originally introduced. I don't see that it makes any sense to say that one is an obsolete relic and the other is not.

From a functional perspective, I think you could find plenty of people who would claim that programmable calculators are obsolete. I don't happen to be one of them.


#5

Hi, Eric --

"Obsolete relic" is indeed a bit harsh of a term for something (Apple IIe "non-IBM personal computer") that still performs certain practical tasks as well as it can. However, the bar for "PC" performance has been raised considerably since the 1980's, such that no one wanting to use a PC for modern capabilities (e.g., web access) and applications would use any product from that era.

One could certainly argue that the HP-41 is somewhat obsolete, because the tasks it is equipped to perform can be accomplished more efficiently with modern compact devices that run far faster. I use unaccelerated HP-41's with an application program and Navigation Pac to calculate the position of celestial objects for navigation, and must wait several minutes for a result.

Now, the HP-15C: I see nothing obsolete about it. The applications for which it is best suited have not changed a bit since the 1980's. Newer models such as the HP-32S/32SII/33S/42S do certain things better (e.g., alphanumeric display and 12 times the speed), but can't match the HP-15C's combination of easy accessibility with excellent functional integration. The user interface and functional integration of modern "swiss army knife" low-end calculators, such as the Casio fx-115MS, can't compare to that of any of the HP's mentioned.

-- KS


#6

Ditto! (wow!)

-- Antonio

#7

Hallo!

Quote:
I use unaccelerated HP-41's with an application program and Navigation Pac to calculate the position of celestial objects for navigation, and must wait several minutes for a result.

But then, celestial navigation by itself has become obsolete long ago. And for us aviators not only obsolete, but even impossible because the last aeroplane with a little roof window for a star sextant was the Boeing 707. Which reminds me that the ephemeris of my Tamaya NC77 calculator will definitely expire in June :-( Onother device that will become obsolete very soon.

Greetings, Max


#8

Not so fast on the navigation thing . . .

As was briefly mentioned in the news recently, a few more pieces of orbiting space junk out there, and the treasured convenience and accuracy of GPS might become a wistful memory.

(How do I invest in sextant futures?)


#9

Hello!

Quote:
Not so fast on the navigation thing . . .

As was briefly mentioned in the news recently, a few more pieces of orbiting space junk out there, and the treasured convenience and accuracy of GPS might become a wistful memory.

(How do I invest in sextant futures?)


I think you better invest your money in vintage calculators than in sextants (or maybe vintage sextants) ;-)

The danger to satellites from debris is mainly present in low earth orbit (up to 500 km above the earth surface), whereas the navigation satellites are positioned in a medium orbit at about 20,000 km distance.

Next, the American GPS system ist "backed up", so to say, by the very similar Russian Glonass, there are now even combination receivers awailable that can get their position information from any of the two systems. And in the near (or not so near, according to recent press releases) future, the european "Galileo" system will proide a third independent source for satellite navigation.

Anyway, (civilian) aviation does not yet depend on GPS in any way: Long and medium range navigation is based on inertial navigation systems, all solid state now with laser gyroscopes and silicon based accelerometers, which brings the price down to reasonable levels, and short range and terminal navigation is done by means of ground based radio navigation aids. Practical satellite navigation is still not part of the training syllabus for pilots!

Greetings, Max


#10

I love this site! What a place to access some better-informed points of view!

Thanks for the clarification. (Now, to find a good deal on an HP-15C to fund my retirement.)

Edited: 23 Mar 2007, 10:06 a.m.

#11

Hi, Karl:

    I mostly agree with your post ("Mostly Harmless" ... :-) but I want to comment a little:

    Karl posted:

      "One could certainly argue that the HP-41 is somewhat obsolete, because the tasks it is equipped to perform can be accomplished more efficiently with modern compact devices that run far faster."

        Run time isn't everything. There are other timings involved in actually performing some computation in a given device, and it might perfectly be the case that the time it takes to get the 41C, turn it on, and make the calculations is far below what it takes to do the same with some other, more modern, more complex devices, which might well imply longer delays for turning them on, supplying some password, navigate to some menu, launch some calc emulation or application, etc. When you 'nitpickingly' contabilize each and every delay and timing involved, it might well be the case that running time is one of the smallest factors of the whole process.

        Also, the 41C had a tremendous Fun Factor For Fans (FFFF :-), which simply hasn't dissapeared, far from it, and will continue to exist indefinitely. Doing things with synthetics, M-code, or even plain old RPN and the versatility of stack and register addressing was extremely fun and challenging, and I know I was much more enthrilled and had a much better time of creating an Othello program, say, for the 41C than I would ever had from doing the same for a more powerful or capable device. The very limitations of the 41C was what made it fun in the first place, and having an all-powerful, all-capable modern device available for this particular task would simply spoil the fun big time.

        The same applies, of course, to other HP models, the HP-71B and the HP-15C being my favorite right now for this kind of fun programming. Wait till you see my very next Datafile article (to be published in April), you'll be amazed at what exciting, seemeingly ultra-complicated symbolic feats you can do with an HP-71B and 25+ lines of code ! This is both potentially useful and fun !

      "Now, the HP-15C: I see nothing obsolete about it."

        I fully agree. It would be great if it were revamped with some modern niceties in a transparent manner while maintaining its physical qualities, but it works perfectly as is.

        Which is more, at times it seems even *more* advanced than most modern devices. Each time most anyone sees my HP-15C, they are awed by its looks, its 'solidity' so to say, and it goes without saying, its functionality. They initially think it's just a cute but quality scientific calculator, and most of them being technical people, are amazed no end when they get to know it does matrices, complex arithmetic and special functions, hyperbolics, statistics, gamma, programming, the works. "Obsolete" is definitely *not* the word for it, really.

        Ah, and the keyboard never fails to elicit appreciative comments and envious looks. Those were the days ! ...

Best regards from V.

#12

Ditto, Valentin; you wrote:

Quote:
Ah, and the keyboard never fails to elicit appreciative comments and envious looks. Those were the days ! ...

Ah! I wonder if anyone there at HP sometimes looks at this Forum. The day they decide for an HP-15C renewal and issue it, guaranteed I'll go drunk! And after I'm back restored, I'll go and buy three: one for office, one for home, one spare. And maybe two others for my sons.

HP: it's your turn! I want to pay for quality!

-- Antonio

Edited: 22 Mar 2007, 12:59 p.m.


#13

Quote:
I wonder if anyone there at HP sometimes looks at this Forum. The day they decide for an HP-15C renewal and issue it.....

Well, if they need an excuse, the 15C was introduced on July 1, 1982. Everybody close their eyes, click their heels together and repeat after me...."HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition...."





Careful observers may note that my creation is a 15C Platinum 25th Anniversary Edition. This is because I would propose a couple of enhancements to the original. The 15C was of course a wonderful machine, but if given the opportunity to make changes I'm sure there would be no shortage of very worthy improvements. However, to make it as easy as possible for hp to bring it back, only a couple of very basic improvements are requested:

1. Additional memory - Nothing excessive, maybe just a total of 1 or 2 kbytes for programs, with up to 101 storage registers (0 to 99 plus I. This should be an easy change according to this thread).

2. Input/Output - maybe something as simple as a full download or upload of the calculator’s memory to a PC, via a USB to mini-USB cable. Perhaps this would be too much to ask, but it sure would be nice! (IO has been added as a shifted-ON key function in my depiction.)



Edited: 28 Mar 2007, 1:07 p.m.


#14

HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....
HP15C 25th Anniversary Edition....

... Well, out of the joke, it's a wonderful idea, Jeff, good picture.

Again: HP, hey! Is there someone, out there?

-- Antonio

#15

I have owned many HP calculators since I bought my first in 1976(HP-67, to be followed by 12C, 15C, 17BII, 21, 25, 28C, 28S, 32SII, 35, 38, 41C, 41CX, 42S, 48SX, 48GX, 49g+, and several others). My 1986 HP-15C immediately became my favorite. I used it daily for 11 years.

I was at last able to find a HP42S. It blows the HP-15C away in every detail except appearance. The HP42S is far far easier to use than the HP-15C. Its functions are much more naturally accessible and integrated, especially when dealing with complex numbers. It has much more memory, and far better program editing capabilities. Computation is much faster at much greater precision. It has a two-line LCD. It can send output via IR to a printer. It even has an (unadvertised) simple debugger that can be accessed to examine internal ROM/RAM or alter (temporarily) operating system RAM, in order to do such things as double the speed of operation. With all this, the HP42S is still essentially the same size and weight of the HP-15C. IMHO, this 20-year-old design is easily the best RPN calculator of all time.

The only things for which I would fault the HP42S are:

(1) That terribly ugly, low contrast, fecal brown and orange color scheme. Some gang of new-age left-coast artsy nitwits at HP really messed up *all* HP calculator color schemes after the mid-1980s (but that really started with that unappealing HP-41C in 1979). The classic sharp HP black case, gold and blue shift keys, and blue/black HP logo are far more attractive and easier on the eyes. The HP-15C was the last of that kind.

(2) I like the "landscape" key arrangement of the HP-15C better.

(3) No real-time clock/calendar, even though the hardware has a quartz clock. (The HP-15C didn't have one either.)

(4) No simple time-value-of-money functions. (Neither does the HP-15C.)

With respect to mechanical properties, the HP-15C is very prone to losing its rubber feet, the small battery door, and/or the model/logo square insert on the front. The aluminum around the LCD is easily scratched. The chrome paint on the logo insert quickly wears off. But despite daily use, my HP42S still has perfect feet and looks as good overall as the day I took it out of the box in 1997.

When I read comments that elevate the HP-15C over the HP42S, I have to wonder if those making such comments ever actually *extensively* used *both* calculators over a long period of time. I have eleven years with the HP-15C, followed by ten years with the HP42S. I still have both, but only the HP42S (and my hp49g+) get any use today.

If the HP42S could be re-issued in HP-15C dress, that to me would be ideal.

Mike


#16

Hi, Mike Morrow:

A few comments to your post:

Mike Morrow posted:

    "I was at last able to find a HP42S. It blows the HP-15C away in every detail except appearance."

      Nope. The matrix and complex number paradigm are much better implemented in the HP-15C (matrix descriptors and parallel complex stack), among many other advantages.

    "The HP42S is far far easier to use than the HP-15C."

      In your dreams.

    "Its functions are much more naturally accessible and integrated, especially when dealing with complex numbers."

      This must be a joke, right ?

    "It has much more memory, and far better program editing capabilities."

      Agreed. But let it be at just "better" instead of "far better".

    "Computation is much faster at much greater precision."

      Agreement on the speed, but "much greater precision" is just the difference between 10-digit (13-digit internally) and 12-digit (15-digit internally). That's "greater" but not "much greater". If you want to know what "much greater" precision really means, have a look at the 20-digit SHARP PC-1475/E500S.

    "[...] (but that really started with that unappealing HP-41C in 1979)"

      Another joke, no doubt.

    "With respect to mechanical properties, the HP-15C is very prone to losing its rubber feet, the small battery door, and/or the model/logo square insert on the front."

      Agreed on the logo, nope on the other two, most specially the battery door, which I see no way it can get lost taking into account that you only take it out every 10 years or so to change batteries. By the way, I've noticed that you forget to compare HP-15C's battery life vs HP42S's, why would that be ?

    "When I read comments that elevate the HP-15C over the HP42S, I have to wonder if those making such comments ever actually *extensively* used
    *both* calculators over a long period of time [...] I still have both, but only the HP42S (and my hp49g+) get any use today."

      Good for you. I actually find the HP-15C much easier to use than the HP42S, mostly because a set of menus will never beat having each and every function (700+) directly accessible on the keyboard. Free42 running on a palm makes it a little faster but still ...

    "If the HP42S could be re-issued in HP-15C dress, that to me would be ideal."

      Don't hold your breath. Seems the latest people at HP on charge of this just hit the road.

Best regards from V.

#17

Come on, Valentin, is it really necessary to be so rude when you don't agree with someone? Mike gave his opinion, and that's all he claimed to do. You, on the other hand, sound as if you're the guardian of Absolute Truth and Mike must be either an idiot or he must be joking.

Some people have different opinions to yours. And some people really like different calculators than you do, and not because they are ill-informed or stupid.

- Thomas


#18

Hi, Thomas:

Here we go again ... :-(

The bad thing with posting anything in the web is that body
language is totally absent, so there's no way to effectively
convey the attitude, humor, etc, and general good mood that
would be obvious if the exchange were verbal.

I've said time and again that I'm pretty jovial in my attitude
towards life and there's no intention whatsoever to belittle anyone, I assume most of us are pretty much adults, with technical or financial careers, etc., so there's little point in trying to outsmart anyone when it's much easier that oneself is the one to be easily outsmarted.

There's also the language barrier. I guess you were alarmed by the "In your dreams" statement, perhaps. The equivalent Spanish idiom, which is "Ni soñando!" or "Ni en sueños!" is absolutely colloquial and devoid of any offensive nature, but probably the English version tends to be considered rude, judging by your attitude.

In short, this is tiring. I mean no offence to anyone, I'm not the guardian of anything but my house and family, and I'm becoming tired myself of always getting misinterpreted. I'm really tempted to consider the possibility of posting under some other pen name, so that my messages aren't judged because they were uttered by "Valentin Albillo, the High-And-Mighty Guardian of Truth" but just on their face value and contents, and leave my real name just for issuing Challenges and Mini-Challenges or help others by answering to non-controversial technical questions.

Anyway, thanks for your comments and best regards from V.


#19

Hi!

I have followed this discussion with mild disbelief...

Quote:
... I assume most of us are pretty much adults, with technical or financial careers, etc. ...

And therefore I am even more puzzled why we can get in such heated discussions about wether a HP-42 is better and faster at doing complex-valued matrix calculations than a HP-15.
No "adult with a technical or financial career" has had to do such a calculation on a pocket calculator during the last 20 years or so, at least not during working hours. If he did so, it was because he considers this as part of his hobby!

It is a bit like getting in a fight wether a 1920ies BSA racing motorcycle outperforms a NSU bike of similar vintage - a purely academic question, nnothing more, and something to be discussed over a pint or two of englich beer :-)

Greetings, Max

#20

Hi, Mike --

I've seen Valentin's reply, but I've also got my own take on some of the statements...

Quote:
The HP42S is far far easier to use than the HP-15C. Its functions are much more naturally accessible and integrated, especially when dealing with complex numbers.

I just can't agree with that. Are functions under menus (or sometimes just the catalog) preferable to functions that are visible and directly-accessible? I'd say not. I put several common, useful functions in the first level of the CUSTOM menu of my HP-42S, because they're not even available on the keyboard or any standard menu otherwise: "%CH", "Roll up", along with several others.

Defining a simple function for numerical integration or rootfinding is a minor hassle on the HP-42S, with its requirement for external-label programs, named variables defined using "MVAR", etc.

As for complex scalars, the main advantage of the HP-42S is the ability to see a complete complex-valued number (or two) in the display, and to directly enter, calculate, and display complex numbers in polar form. Other than that, the capabilities are quite similar.

Quote:
With respect to mechanical properties, the HP-15C is very prone to losing its rubber feet, the small battery door, and/or the model/logo square insert on the front. The aluminum around the LCD is easily scratched. The chrome paint on the logo insert quickly wears off.

The poorly-adhering logos with non-durable paint were the plastic ones that debuted as part of cost-cutting measures in 1986 -- when yours was likely made. The metal chromed logos of 1981-85 "held up and held on" much better.

Quote:
That terribly ugly, low contrast, ... brown and orange color scheme (of the HP-42S). Some gang of ... nitwits at HP really messed up *all* HP calculator color schemes after the mid-1980s (but that really started with that unappealing HP-41C in 1979). The classic sharp HP black case, gold and blue shift keys, and blue/black HP logo are far more attractive and easier on the eyes. The HP-15C was the last of that kind.

I've commented on color schemes before. The sole shift color of the HP-42S is yellow, not orange. It followed the pattern of yellow, blue, black for shift keys, established with the Spice and HP-41 lines in 1978-79, as far as I know. The HP-41CX and HP-71B of 1983, as well as most Pioneer-series models in 1988, continued that pattern. Different shift colors were used on some models in the mid-1980's (e.g., HP-28C/S, HP-22S, HP-27S) before "designer" colors were introduced in 1993 with the HP-48G line.

Dark brown was used as a face color on the HP-12C and the HP-41CV (1986 model).

Quote:
When I read comments that elevate the HP-15C over the HP42S, I have to wonder if those making such comments ever actually *extensively* used *both* calculators over a long period of time.

I bought my HP-15C new in late 1983, and used it almost exclusively until 2002, when I got into collecting. I've had my own HP-42S since that year and have written a detailed (but unpublished) program for it. That's long enough to get a fair assessment.

-- KS

Edited: 24 Mar 2007, 2:38 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


#21

Agree with almost everything you wrote, Karl. Just one point to correct: IMO the "classical" HP color scheme started with the HP65 (blue/gold) and reached full size with the HP67 (blue/gold/black), so a bit earlier than the Spices. You may even rate the HP55 as first HP with those 3 key colors.

Best regards, Walter

Edited: 24 Mar 2007, 2:01 p.m.

#22

Hello Karl,

Quote:
Are functions under menus (or sometimes just the catalog) preferable to functions that are visible and directly-accessible? I'd say not.

Totally agree! When I upgraded to the HP-28S, then the most advanced scientific calculator, I loved it but I soon started missing my faithful HP-15C. Although I liked the softmenu keys, I didn't like the trigonometric functions being accessible through them.

Despite the existence of a menu system, the oftenly used functions should always be available right from the keyboard.

As an illustration, what calculator would you use to quickly evaluate this simple expression, the HP-42S or the HP-15C?

    1 - tanh(ln 1.57) - 0.57/(9!)

(This is just an approximation, but it is correct to 10 digits! Found when playing with the HP-15C during 10 or 15 minutes)

Regards,

Gerson.


#23

Quote:
As an illustration, ...

1 - tanh(ln 1.57) - 0.57/(9!)

(This is just an approximation, but it is correct to 10 digits! Found when playing with the HP-15C during 10 or 15 minutes)


Boa tarde Gerson, my HP-11C returns 0.577 - so, what's the finding??

Cumprimentos, Walter


#24

Best regards from V.

#25

Boa noite Walter,

Quote:
my HP-11C returns 0.577 - so, what's the finding??

The full 10-digit answer is 0.5772156649. Thanks to Valentin, you should know the meaning of it by now, in case you had forgotten. I hadn't heard of the constant until last month, by what I can remember.

I hope the approximation makes it easier to remember.

More information here:

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Euler-MascheroniConstant.html

Cumprimentos,

Gerson.

Edited: 26 Mar 2007, 8:57 p.m.


#26

Shame on me! Well, maybe not too much, because I did not use this gamma for 30 years at least. And I'm not sure I used (or had to use) it earlier. The examples in the link look like perfect playground for pure mathematicans. Anyway,

obrigado, Walter


#27

I used it for the first time about one month ago, to solve a somewhat complicated integral. No achievement though, as I already new the answer. All I did was finding a way to reproduce a known result. In case your interested, here's the link:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv017.cgi?read=109056

Some revision is still required, but this gives an idea of its application in solving some kind of integrals.


Quote:
obrigado,

Não há de quê! (You're welcome!)

Gerson.

#28

Interesting.

A few keystrokes less albiet slightly less accurate:

    4 x! ASINH FRAC x^2 x^2


If you are in degrees mode, you can get a little more accurate with:

    3 ACOSH 2 0 * SIN


If you are in radians mode this is shorter but slightly less accurate:

    6 TAN TAN COS COS


And if you use gradians, this is the same length but more accurate:

    PI ->H.MS ->DEG FRAC SIN ->DEG

Does anybody run in gradians mode?


- Pauli


#29

All your approximations give seven correct digits, which is nice. Rather than the number of steps, I was interested in an easy-to-remember approximation, something like

1 ENTER . 4 TAN -

in radians mode. Six steps and only 4 correct digits. Yours are hard to beat!

Regards,

Gerson.


#30

Quote:
    1 ENTER . 4 TAN -

in radians mode. Six steps and only 4 correct digits. Yours are hard to beat!


Try my:

    6 TAN TAN COS COS

Also in radians mode, five keystrokes, more accurate and arguably easier to remember.


- Pauli


#31

Quote:
Try my:


6 TAN TAN COS COS


Seen that!

Interestingly, only the eighth significant digit is wrong:

0.5772156349. A short twelve-digit approximation would be interesting for 12-digit calculators (except, of course, the HP-49G/50G which don't need it).

Regards,

Gerson.

#32

Quote:
Interesting.

1 - tanh(ln 1.57) - 0.57/(9!) is just a rational approximation in disguise, as you may have noticed.

Just for fun, I have rewritten it as the difference of two pandigital terms:

'2*(3^0+9)^4/(8!-5671) - (48+9)/sqrt(2*sqrt(3*sqrt(5*sqrt(70))))^16'

Gerson.

----------------

Another one:

'(9-8)/sqrt(SINH(1637/(2*450)))'

This is good to only 8 digits though (0.57721566).


Edited: 14 Apr 2007, 9:36 a.m.

#33

Hi, Gerson --

Quote:
As an illustration, what calculator would you use to quickly evaluate this simple expression, the HP-42S or the HP-15C?

    1 - tanh(ln 1.57) - 0.57/(9!)

Even worse on an HP-41: "TANH" is available only on the Math Pac and must be spelled out; factorial must be spelled out as "FACT".

-- KS


#34

Hi Karl,

Quote:
"TANH" is available only on the Math Pac and must be spelled out;

If the Math Pac is missing "TANH" can be computed with four more keystrokes:

ex ENTER 1/x - LASTx ENTER 1/x + /

(perhaps a shorter sequence is possible on the HP-41)

Regards,

Gerson.


Edited: 27 Mar 2007, 8:12 p.m.

#35

Hello Karl: I am not very familiar with the HP 15C (I have one I bought for business reasons but I do not like it much) so, could you please tell me what are the applications you are referring to that the HP15C is better suited for than the HP41CX? For example, I used my college HP41CX with an Advantage Module (the exam had economic analysis) for the Electrical Engineering PE Exam back in 2001 (and I passed) and I probably would use it again today. Would you use an HP15C for the exam or is this one of the things (in my opinion critical for an Engineer's carrer) not very well suited for?

Regards, Thor.

Edited: 24 Mar 2007, 5:47 p.m.


#36

Hi, Thor --

Quote:
... could you please tell me what are the applications you are referring to that the HP15C is better suited for than the HP41CX?

I think that you may have misunderstood my intended meaning, which was that the HP-41's best-suited applications could be done better by more modern equipment, while the HP-15C's own simpler best-suited applications could not be done better by a more-modern device. I was not comparing the HP-15C directly to the HP-41.

But, since you asked: I had, in fact, three years ago compared the HP-15C to the HP-41 in detail for basic mathematical functionality and comparative ease of use thereof. The HP-15C is much more straightforward for applications that are not programmed by the user, but it cannot support peripherals or expansion hardware. The strengths of the HP-41 are its expandability and advanced programmability. Here's the archived post:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv014.cgi?read=61367#61367

The HP-15C's built-in complex-number capability and matrix operations are much easier to use than those of the Advantage Pac (AP), although the AP's matrix operations are more advanced.

The HP-15C's arithmetic keys are on the correct side of the keyboard for right-handers and more-logically arranged, too.

SOLVE and INTEG from the AP are essentially the same as those in the HP-15C, but are a bit easier to use on the HP-15C without the alphanumeric hassle. More about SOLVE and INTEG:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/articles.cgi?read=556

Quote:
For example, I used my college HP41CX with an Advantage Module (the exam had economic analysis) for the Electrical Engineering PE Exam back in 2001 (and I passed) and I probably would use it again today.

Actually, you couldn't :-)

Four years ago, the NCEES banned the HP-41 and other highly-capabable calculators from the EIT/FE and PE exams that the organization admisters, based upon more-restrictive standards that were adopted. Subsequently, the NCEES banned all calculators other than those from a short "approved" list that were available on retail shelves. This, of course, excluded the HP-15C, even though it met the standards.

Quote:
Would you use an HP15C for the exam or is this one of the things (in my opinion critical for an Engineer's career) not very well suited for?

I passed the EIT/FE in 1994 on the first try using an HP-15C. If I had my free choice of compliant calculators to use on the PE, I would use the HP-15C again as my primary calculator.

-- KS


#37

Karl, thanks for the response (or maybe not) you remind me I am getting old. I did not know they had banned all those vintage calcs. In my opinion, for the PE, you should be able to use whatever calculator you like (as it used to be) and open book (as it used to be, have they changed that also?). You indicated that if you could you would use your HP15C as your "primary" calculator. So, would you need a secondary? which one and why?

Assuming the HP15C has more straightforward applications, one must ask: is this a great advantage over the HP41CX? The fact that you can not add modules means you are stuck with what you have (well, maybe you can write a program or two but better do it in advance of the exam). I had the HP41CX, Advantage Module, and the card reader (that I did not have to use) and I left the wand at home (I did not want to show off) and that was it, it had everything I needed it.

Not sure what your basis are to indicate that: "the arithmetic keys are more-logically arranged" but, in my opinion, for field work the HP15C (and alike) do not have the best ergonomics. I find it very uncomfortable to hold in one hand for a long period of time. Work gave us an HP11C for field work and I used it very little for that reason. I used my HP41CX instead. The HP41CX feels nice in my hand, not as nice as my first HP calculator, the HP 25C, but nice (well, no other calc feels like her, I still have it but I had to retire long time ago, maybe I should do the same).

Regards, Thor

Edited: 24 Mar 2007, 10:58 p.m.


#38

Hi again, Thor --

Quote:
You indicated that if you could you would use your HP15C as your "primary" calculator. So, would you need a secondary? which one and why?

Obviously, a calculator with (complete?) built-in financial functions would be helpful. A compact model, such as an HP-27S, HP-17BII, or HP-12C would serve that purpose. (Unfortunately, none of these are on the "approved" list, and the first two have alphanumerics, which would render them "noncompliant".)

Quote:
Assuming the HP15C has more straightforward applications, one must ask: is this a great advantage over the HP41CX?

In a word, quickness -- being able to find and access functions quickly with a minimum of thought and formal protocol. That's important on an exam. If special programs are needed, the special calculator can be used.

Note also that the HP-41 does not have built-in hyperbolic functions, which might very well be required on a PE exam. The Math Pac provides them, but not for complex-valued arguments. The Advantage Pac doesn't provide hyperbolics as named functions. For more about that, see this archived post:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv014.cgi?read=48157#48157

My emphasis was on "compliant" models, which the HP-41 and HP-48 series are not. I'm assuming that the exam would not put at a comparative disadvantage any testee who lacked a calculator with plug-in modules/cards or downloaded programs.

Quote:
Not sure what your basis are to indicate that: "the arithmetic keys are more-logically arranged" but, in my opinion, for field work the HP15C (and alike) do not have the best ergonomics.

Work gave us an HP11C for field work and I used it very little for that reason.


I agree that the landscape-layout calc's are best-suited for desktop work, preferably with no extended computer-keyboard tray -- the way most engineers worked before 1990, or students in class still do today. The HP-11C might not be the best choice for field work, if elaborate custom programs and data exchange are needed.

The columns of arithmetic keys of pre-Voyager and Voyager HP's are arranged as shown:

pre-Voyager  Voyager

(leftmost) (rightmost)

- /
+ *
* -
/ +

What's wrong with the pre-Voyager arrangement?

  1. The fingers of the user's right hand conceal the number keys when an arithmetic key is pressed. (90% of people are right-handed, and would use that hand to press keys.)

  2. The corresponding members of the functional pairs (-, +) and (*, /) are oriented inconsistently (i.e., - above +, but * above /)

Starting with the Voyager series, HP "wised up" and arranged their arithmetic keys the way TI had done it since the 1970's.

-- KS


Edited: 25 Mar 2007, 5:15 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


#39

Hi Karl.

One thing missing from your comparison is that the HP41 had the USER keyboard. Each function you label as "alpha" could in fact be assigned to any key you wanted and accessed with one or two keystrokes. . . about the same as a shifted function on the 15c. You could even use the overlay that had the built-in functions listed on it and add your add'l functions where you wanted.

Personally, the PPC ROM did a great number of things you have listed and once plugged in, I considered it just part of the machine. That adds root finders, integration, etc.

I do agree about the 15c's much better handling of things like complex hyperbolics, etc. There are some things where there just was no comparison.

However, to me, the immense storage capacity, alpha keycodes, alpha messages/prompts, and BEEP made all the difference.

So, two sides to most every story? :-)


#40

Hi, Bill --

Quote:
One thing missing from your comparison is that the HP41 had the USER keyboard. Each function you label as "alpha" could in fact be assigned to any key you wanted and accessed with one or two keystrokes. . . about the same as a shifted function on the 15c. You could even use the overlay that had the built-in functions listed on it and add your add'l functions where you wanted.

True -- in fact, that's just what ASN ("assign") is for, and why ASN was on the keyboard. I, personally, don't think that the overlays look very good, and only one can be used at a time. (Most Pac's had their own overlays, too.)

Only the HP-41CX provided a listing of key assignments ("CATALOG 6"), and the assignments get wiped out by a master clear.

Quote:
Personally, the PPC ROM did a great number of things you have listed and once plugged in, I considered it just part of the machine. That adds root finders, integration, etc.

Like the Advantage Pac, this added functionality was available only at extra cost to a base price that was already considerably higher than that of the HP-15C. (I do acknowledge that there once may have been an HP-sponsored promotion that provided an Advantage Pac with purchase of an HP-41CX.)

Quote:
However, to me, the immense storage capacity, alpha keycodes, alpha messages/prompts, and BEEP made all the difference.

The storage capacity of the base HP-41C was surprisingly a bit smaller than that of the HP-15C (64 registers versus the HP-15C's 67 registers). Memory beyond, say, 128 registers as well as X-Memory were most useful for programming, as were the alpha keycodes, alpha messages/prompts, and the BEEP function. (I also acknowledge that the Advantage Pac's matrix functions could store matrices directly to X-Memory.) Of course, it is understood that HP-41 programming capabilities are far superior to those of the HP-15C.

-- KS

#41

Ditto. I still use my Apple IIGS with separate non-Apple hard-drive on occasion.

tm


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