new 35s triggers hp nostalgia


rec'd a 35s a couple of days ago and found my way to this forum. the display *might* be tilted a half-pixel down at the right, but it might be my imagination from reading all the posts on the topic. [g] also, my checksums match the book examples perfectly. my dislikes are not being able to use more than one character in variable names, how different input is going from rpn<>alg and back and the fact they didn't use the 2nd line for 'soft' functions ala the 27s.

that out of the way, i really like the overall quality, the tactile feedback of the keys, and i really like the form factor and the solid feel of the calculator. even i'm not old enough to have been able to afford the original hp35--my first hp calc was the hp55 with 49? program slots and some sort of multi-timer function. around 1975 or 1976 i'd say--i was in navy communications stationed at gtmo. five or six hundred dollars was quite a sum from my pay as an e4 in the 70's!

but i was hooked after that. i helped a roommate build the ur pc--the altair 8800--and owned nearly every major scientific and programming calculator model from hp and ti from 1975 until today. ti's were of laughable quality compared to hp's for many many years and i was much saddened when the first hp calculator built in singapore or malaysia appeared--they just seemed like junk compared to the early hp models: 35/45/55/67 &c.

my reason for this much detail is that up until i came across this forum, i hadn't realized how much those 'junk' calculators were going to be treasured after hp went even further down the toilet. tragically, about 3-4 years ago i just tossed out about 4 or 5 old hp calculators including a 20s and and 32s or 32si and some other models i can't remember. all of them that thin, plastic form factor though, like the 27s.

i did save one from the trash though--my 27s. although it has two huge major flaws i still find it one of the most innovative and easy-to-use calculators hp has ever made, although i'm sure some would claim that its stretch to be all things at once was its downfall.

it has about as many business as scientific functions and a clock and timers and appointments. and an i/r printer link also. the big innovation though was a two-line display which used soft function keys which made having to dip into the reference manual nearly superfluous. it had a solver/equation writer which included let and get functions which let you write quite powerful program/equation lines. and a technical manual with further program examples was published with it.

and the warts? abysmal battery life--just a couple of weeks with alkaline batteries whether being used or not. the manual recommended mercury batteries, but never having found any, i'm not sure how much longer they would last. and the other problem was a dim, low-contrast display that was hard to read in any light. and i'm sure this wasn't just the sample i had, since, even today you can tell from the pictures that none of this model had a crisp display.

anyway, i noticed someone selling one of these on ebay for $199! i'm glad i kept at least this one out of the batch i threw away.

so after owning all these calculators over the years, what would be my vision of an ideal calculator? the one in the hp 200lx palmtop computer. i've never seen one to even approach it, much less equal it. give me that calculator in the form factor (or close to it) of the 35s and add symbolic manipulation (cas?) and i'd pay nearly any amount for it.


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