Another comment about HP's future


Many of you have posted about your alarm over the future of HP calculators, more specifically, the future of the HP tradition. I'm writing from another angle (although the aforementioned is disheartening enough).

Have any of you checked-out TI prices recently? A new TI-89 is $173 in a new Staples catalog; a TI-83 Plus is $116. If HP slips away in the market, I wonder what the prices will become without any true competition. I hadn't considered that before but this could prove interesting.



Joe, it is interesting you would bring that up. With demand comes high price because of good sales. Sunday, I walked in to Office Depot here in Fargo ND and saw the hp 48GX's on clearance for $112.00!! I asked the manager why? and he said he has not been able to sell one unit since the store opened last year! He asked me if I wanted one, and I said maybe I should wait until they are lower. The manager then said how low? and I said $80.00 if they make it that far, and he said sold! He then proceeded to tell me that a surveyor had ordered a hard leather field case and would not pick it up. A $55.00 value, mine for just $10.00!! I looked at it and it was a very nice case with a heavy linen lining inside. I walked out of there with a GX and a hard leather case for just under $100.00 with tax!! How about them bananas:-) The TI 89 was selling for a whopping $210.00! There are four large universities within a 70 mile radius here, two of them primarily Science and Engineering. Guess what calculators those students are using. Too bad! I would sooner use my Post Versalog than use a TI. The really dumb thing is, when I let junior personnel use my hp's with five minutes of instruction, their comment is always and I mean always this calc is so cool, why didn't I see these when I was going to school! I actually have had employees get into arguments about who was next to use my hp67. I just shake my head and know that hp's calculator division is missing in action, and probably soon to wind up on the killed in action list. Too bad, hp should be at the top of the sales chart.


You are comparing retail prices with discounted (clearance) prices.

If HP were selling the calculators at such prices they would get better sales. But the question is whether they could AFFORD to develop and build calculators and then sell them at such low prices.

All the things we love about HP calculators (quality, manuals, elegance) benefited from the high cost of the final product. The HP-67 and HP-97 were the Rolls Royce's of calculators. True the TI-59 with its PC-100 printer were more powerful, but their quality of construction was abysmal.

I bought a TI-59 about a year before the HP-41 was introduced. I checked the specs and compared the TI-59 with the hp-67 and hp-97 and saw that TI's offering was better/cheaper/faster.

After buying it I realised that TI had cut quite a few corners. The keyboard was lousy, the magnetic card reader was tamperamental (I was even told that TI made no promises that one 59 could read the cards of another). You could even see the PCB and components then you removed the battery pack. As soon I the HP-41 was out, I sold the TI trash and
bought an HP-41C that still works just fine.

After many years I managed to buy an HP-97 on eBay. I wouldn't even dream of buying a TI-59/PC100 now.

That tells a lot about the old HP way.

However, like hand made cars, the HP calculators cannot compete in today's marketplace. Its just not possible. So do not blame HP or its managers, what you want is utopian.

But there is an alternative: buy as many old HP calculators as you can and use them carefully for as long as they last.

Eventually the whole concept of having a calculator will become meaningless (much like slide rules). In the mean time do not compromise if you can.



I bought my first 41 the day it was introduced, a 41CX when it was introduced and a 48SX when that one was introduced.
Now I also have a NIB 48GX stashed away in case something should happen to my SX (God forbid that!) and they should no longer be available new.
I think that I would be almost helpless without RPN/RPL :-) (If so, I might prefer to use my collection of slide rules and my Curta...)



May I borrow your words? Thank you!

John wrote: "I think that I would be almost helpless without RPN/RPL :-) ". I feel like that, too. At least you have a N.I.B. 48GX. KEEP IT!

You nmentioned a Curta; is it an RPN calculator? Forgive me if I am not known about...



the hpmuseum has at least a link to Curta.
AFAIK, you 'lever' in one number, then the other, and then perform the wanted operation.
Sounds like RPN;-)

Maybe someone will build a Curta I/II emulator for
the PC and for the HP-48...




Hey, Raymond. Thanks.

I have found the page with the Curta manual:

Now I cannot say I'm gonna die without knowing what is it. Weird and fascinating.

Thanks for the tip.


I never knew what a Curta was until I read this page. and then I went and got one. I was lucky. I had seen one at a thrift shop and passed because I had no idea what it was and it was still there weeks later. I guess no one else knew what it was either.

I think they're cool gadgets!

Now I just need to find one of these!


Whether the Curta is RPN or not?
In a way it is neither-nor. You enter the first number by setting it. Then, the operation is performed in the process of entering (or reaching) the the other number. E.g. multiplication is performed as a sequence of additions; division as a series of additions of the divisor, etc. With a rough guess as a 'seed' one can extract both square and cube roots. This works much faster than one would think, due to a system of easy and quick change of digit positions, performed by the hand holding the calculator.
I recently saw a demo model of the Curta, with the innards exposed, that is. Incredibly complicated small precision mechanical components in a very small package! (How did they manage to assemble it??)
BTW The Curta II can obtain a 15 digit accuracy, which is beyond any handheld calculator that I know of(?)



In my previous message I forgot to mention what happened to me on September 13, only two days after you know what. I was flying to Munich, Germany, and had a Curta in my carry-on bag. At the security check I was asked to "step in here", in a separate room, where they asked me to open my bag and show them the contents. It appeared that something that looked very suspicious was in there (a hand grenade?). Anyway, I explained and offered to give a demonstration! They were rather impressed (and relieved), and one of them carried it out to the check point to show everybody that such an item was of no danger!


All of these stories about the Curta are teasing me up. I´m about to find a way to order one of these for me. Would anybody help me finding a supplier?

And, John, the Curta II: is it worst trying this one or the Curta I ? I have no reference for any of them except the manual page. Can you post something more about them?



This discussion piqued my interest, too. I checked eBay -- a half-dozen current auctions seem to be garnering bids in the $300-$700(!) range and more. Nice-looking models do seem to be available, but for a price.

I won't be buying on eBay, but I know one more thing to look for at junk shops and garage sales . . .


Oh, my...

I do not earn this much in a month (less than US$500) as a teacher in my country.


Years ago I had my Curta with me in my briefcase and security was curious. (Mine had the metal case which made it look even more like something to fear than do the plastic cases of the "newer" Curtas.) Security got REAL concerned when they were unable to open the case. I had to quickly explain about the reverse threads on the screw-off lid! <g>


Yes, Jerry, this is a curious point for most newcomers to the Curta! You may know the reason for the reverse thread on the lid? I found out that if the lid had regular thread, the lid padding would tend to turn the crank and thus throw the setting out of neutral position. (The crank can't turn backwards.)


John - I've had my Curta since the early 70's but never knew the reason for the reverse threading. Thanks!

I got the Curta for use in sports car rallies. It's design perfectly matched the needs of rally navigators and worked so well that until relatively recent years it put you in the same class as people using dedicated on-board computers. I tried replacing the Curta with an HP-67 but quickly went back to the Curta. (Try reading those LED's in a sports car with the top down!) The HP-41C, however, did finally put my Curta into a kind of semi-retirement. We still use the 41.

I have to confess that now the Curta only gets used when I need to "one-up" someone in the toy department! <g>



if I am not wrong, internal procedures for the Saturn-based calcs (42S, 28/48/49 and others) use 15-digit mantissa, although they are rounded to twelve for the results. In a manner, they are 15-digit precision.



With regard to internal precision higher than displayed precision, I remember that with some calculator (my experience covers HP35, HP41 et al., HP11, and TI5x series but I can't remember which of these did it) you could get at the potentially higher precision by subtracting the displayed number (evidently given to only 10 (say) digits) from the stored-in-the-stack value to get the next several decades of precision. You must have to be in either scientific notation display, or multiply the difference by 1000 (say) to get those next digits.

Does this ring any bells? Dave



next paragraph reffers to the Saturn-based calcs.

In fact, I am not shure on how to get those "hiden fellows", if they can be shown. As internal 15-digit precision and available 12-digit mantissa I understand that those 3 digits are not accessible "externally", say, in one of the registers. I think that in a running routine (SIN, LOG, etc.) they ensure the last digit of the mantissa will be the best approach.

The HP42S allows showing the mantissa with all available digits; this feature was (is) not available at the 41 series (sob!). I am not sure about it, but by using machine code it is possible to handle the full internal precision of the 48/49 calcs (something like the 'double' variables in C/C++). I would relly like knowing a bit more about it and, if applicable, you rang some bells in here.


(I'm sometimes not spell-checking; please, forgive my mistakes)


Hi. I tend to agree with much of what you've written about the TI-59 compared to the HP-41, etc.

But, I grew up as a TI calculator nut. I think it started because the TIs were affordable while the HPs were sky-high when I was in the 6th grade or so, and therefore the HPs were not available.

First calculator? TI's SR-16II, then an SR-51A, then a TI-58C, which broke so I returned it. :-)

Then, finally, I saw the light and got an HP-41C. The rest is history.

However, I still have an affection for old TI calculators and on my website have tried to save some of their past history for several years:

For several years, there were some applications that the TI-59 could do that the HP-67/97 just couldn't get to.

Primarily, this involved the fact that the TI-59 could handle 100 memories! while the HP-67/97 only 26, and it would do this for 1/3 to 1/2 the price.

However, you're right in that the TI's were made cheaply. It is VERY hard to find a TI-59 today that will still read and write magnetic cards.

Sometime or other, I hope to create a CD set much like Jake Schwartz's set that contains the TI PPC notes so they can be available like Jake has made the PPC Journals available.

If I only had the time...



I have to agree!! I've been collecting and restoring both HP's and TI's for over 18 months now. I probably have 8 or 9 perfect TI-59's. They all read and write, though not as reliably as the HP's, they're not bad. The card readers are easy to rebuild, once you get the hang of it. (I use fuel line, glued on, then "dremeled" down to perfect size and roundness. Should last a lot longer than the originals!)

One thing I noticed pretty early on: We used to, "Oooh" and "Ahhh" at the HP circuits (solder coated) as compared to the boring, cheap copper TI circuits. WELL.... 25 years later, the solder joints and circuits on calcs that have had battery leakage and corrosion are in bad shape, but those boring copper traces remain shiny and clean! Most of the corrosion on the TI's remains restricted to the solder joints. SO.... the clean HP's are still more elegant, etc., than the TI's, but the corroded ones are in WORSE shape!!

My 59's still all work GREAT. (I do have to replace the foam under the keys with thin polystyrene sheets.)

A TI-59 got me all the way through college, with alpha-numerics to boot! I wrote EVERY SINGLE computer science assignment TWICE; once for class, and once for my TI-59.

I still prefer the HP's, but there's a special place in my heart and collection for the TI-59, which also was the highest quality of the TI series.

Is it OK to like both?



Hey fellows,

I like HP's, TI's, Casios and Aristos rules too.

The first time I saw a TI59 was in the TV series called Incredible Hulk, when Dr. David Bruce Banner used it for
calculate some nuclear formulas, those magnetic cards made me feel that technology could be portable, We used a HP3000 mainframe that was programmed in Fortran IV via perforated 80 columns cards.

Since this I felt in love with it but unfortunately I just got a TI59 borrowed from a friend and until now my calc colection is missing one of them with that thermal alphanumerical printer...old good times...

Calcs are made by men, and bashing them is like bashing its designers;)

This kind of war is like religion war, the different religious books doesn't fight only the readers do


Marx Pio


ok gene. we won't. i just found a ti-59 yesterday with chip and charger yesterday for $6 so i bit the bullet. when i put new nicads in it and started playing with it today i found a couple of things to like. like it's slightly more accurate than the 41 in at least one way (not as good as a saturn) and a bit faster sometimes. but it is nowhere near as easy & natural to use and i don't think that's completely because i don't do algebraic entry. it's that it seems to act differently in program mode than regular mode sometimes and that you have to juggle your two level stack sometimes (for p-r for instance), but not others. and the screen sucks. i remember from years ago that i liked the way the survey chip was written (i dont have that) so i assume that a lot of the canned programs are well written. it's a nice solid machine but i don't think that it could ever feel like an extension of my brain (the part that works well) like a 41.


Glad you rescued a TI-59 from the junk heap!

I have a few programs for it on my website, so take a look.

Personally, I think programming in AOS on the TI-59 is horrible. Any subroutine has to remember pending operations! That's much worse than remembering numbers in the stack.

The competition between HP and TI was good, as it no doubt pushed HP to become better.

Now, sadly, it appears the competition is ending, as HP is bowing out of the business. :-(



Not to mention that you could play football with HP's!. No one with a cheap TI would dare to throw a calc around the room. I trusted the solidness of my HP-25 so much that we actually would throw it around the room in chemistry class!!! (This was high school, in case you were wondering...) It took some good bounces, but always worked perfectly. I think I even dropped it in a flask of boiling water, once, on a dare. Opened it, dried it, and was back in business. The calc worked 'till the end. It was stolen from my locker when I bought my TI-59 in 1979. With my mid-life crisis I now have a half dozen or so 25's again. Even one built from the worst parts that doesn't program... to... guess what? Play football with my son! (Only once, and just to prove a point! I have grown up. Some.)

(Remember all those stories about HP calculators run over by cars, sent through snow-blowers, etc!?)

Try THAT with a TI-30!!!

Don't worry. The rest are babied and carefully stored. My wife is a calculator widow.



I remember kicking "field goals" with TI-30s. If they broke, no one really cared very much. The HPs may have survived better, but no one wanted to risk an HP on such a thing.

I still remember the first calculators that showed up in high school.

The Texas Instruments SR-50 is one I remember, because the rich kids had them over the summer. I remember the light blue keys.

I remember the physics teacher getting a sinclair programmable and leaving it on with a NIM program in it, to test our wits.

I don't ever recall seeing a $795 HP-65 at school. :-)

The first HP that I do remember seeing was an HP-67, bought in 1978 or so. I have to admit, I thought the person should have spent 1/2 the money and gotten a TI-59.

My, what a foolish youth I had!



Fond memories. We once got a hold of a broken TI calc... don't remember the model, but it was the same as the one owned by the top "nerd" of my physics class. (Not that I'm not a proud nerd.) I used to copy his homework, then I'd out-score him on the exams. Always made him mad.

Anyway, we tormented this kid wonderfully! We'd hide his calculator, then "accidentally" fumble his... pretending to play "keep away", dropping it, and once fumbling it out the window. Seemed to fool him repeatedly. AHHH. Those WERE fun times.

Now that I'm a "grown up" <grin>, I don't think I could get away with pretending to fumble someone's computer out the window. But then again......

NAH! Better not.


I remember a National Lampoon parody piece, "Games You can Play with Electronic Calculators". Shots of, for example, a heavy black ball headed toward an array of ten calculators standing on end ("bowling"), a calculator skidding across a green felt table after being poked with a long stick ("billiards"), etc.

My favorite was "golf" -- a shot of a golf club swinging through a tee and lots of calculator bits flying into the air . . .

(I remember noticing that they'd used cheapo four-bangers to set up the photo shoot.)


See the link

Click on 4 fotos for seeing the pictures

There's a TI59 with one memory module 40 mag cards + cardwallet + printer PC100A + 3 paper rolls for USD 35,00 + shipping

Only problem is that it doesn't come with charger and the original battery is dead.

The seller is not me, I am just point you the bargain for the TI59 lovers ;-)


Marx Pio


I live in Detroit, MI. I was at a local Office Depot and saw the HP48GX being clearanced for about the price you mentioned. However, I have never seen a padded calculator case at Office Depot. I already have an HP48GX. Please tell me more about this calculator case.


I live in Detroi, Michigan. I was at a local Office Depot recently and saw them clearancing the HP48GX for about the price you mentioned. I already have an HP48GX. But I am interested in getting the padded calculator case you mentioned. I have never seen such a case at Office Depot. Was it a special order. Please tell me more.


I did not mean to put two entries out there. One of the entries had "Detroi" when it should have been "Detroit"


From my experience, the very best case for a 48 is the 41 case - fits perfectly, offers far better protection and has a belt loop as well. I have used it for years...


Thanks for this information about using HP41 cases for an HP48. But where can such cases still be obtained?


TI 83 plus spotted in Sam's Club yesterday for $59.9x!

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