Why do we collect HP calculators


As a casual collector of HP calculators (I have a 19c, 32e, 34c, 41cx, 42s, and now a 35s), I found myself asking "why?"

Why do we spend the time to collect and/or play with old (or in the case of the 35s, wannabe old) HP calculators?



Asperger, perhaps? Or do those people collect only stamps? :-)

"People with Asperger syndrome often develop an almost obsessive interest in a hobby or collecting."



We had a guy active on this forum for a while who often proclaimed he had Asperger's.


Yes, I do remember him. However, he had only one HP-41CV, if I am not wrong.

I think I keep some out of nostalgia (HP-15C, HP-28S and HP-48GX - they were there when I needed them most), and some because they were well engineered (HP-35, all those functions in only 960 bytes of ROM!, HP-41CX, HP-42S, HP-15C, etc...).


(Pretty normal guy: only 22 HP-calcs, but will get rid of a couple, only deciding which... and a small banknote collection, but only 40 bills and no progress in the last two years :-)


Ha-ha... you need help my friend.

I no have Asperger's, but Paprika-spergers syndrome. Must eat all food with Paprika. :) Even Pop-corn and Ice cream. Ice cream even better with Hungarian Peppers on it too.


For starters, we like to be different than the herd. It is, however, good that the means to our ends allows for such subtle, yet powerful, user adaptation.

The second most common reason is a combination of awe and nostalgia; we recognize the impressive bounds made by the teams of engineers that initially designed these devices and enjoy the fact that many of these units were so close to apex. Few, if any, newer units from any manufacture have ever come close to those made within HP’s first twenty years.

At last, the ease of programming from the simple to the complex, and especially the ability to share these programs with others, has allowed us to enjoy greater solution development than we ever would alone.

Edit: Yes, I definently have aspergers ;) ... or something else...
But you should really have a look at my fine collection of vintage can openers.

Edited: 21 Aug 2007, 12:48 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


Not trying to be too much of a contrarian, but how exactly does rampant consumerism (and really, that's what collecting is) differentiate yourself from the herd?

Buy the calculators; enjoy playing with them (god knows I do). But please don't fool yourself into thinking that purchasing something mass produced establishes yourself as a non-conformist.


I concede; you have an excellent point. This is especially true for the current line of HP calculators.

I was trying to referring to the collection of the older units. Some would say paying hundreds of dollars for a calculator some twenty to thirty years old is rather odd. I have never really considered the group that does this to be large enough to be considered a herd.



For starters, we like to be different than the herd.

Not me, I don't care about the herd. Even if everybody else would start collecting calculators - I would still do it :-) (As I like Madonna just like (mostly) everybody else...)

But why collect calculators (not just HP im my case, I like differnt brands too) at all? Maybe, because in my childhood/youth days, these were mircaculous and incredibly expesive, therfore unattainabe, devices that were obviously very useful (from a schoolboy's point of view, who lost entire afternoons doing tediuos maths homework) and therefore highly desirable.

Now, that they are commonplace items found in every supermarket, this schoolboy fascination is no longer there, but seeing the dark red glow of an early LED display brings back some of the old memories. Therefore, I really only collect older models and buy LCD calculators only if I can get them very cheap for the sake of completing the collection. Or if they are really powerful or special in one way or another like the latest Ti CAS models.

Greetings, Max


As I like Madonna just like (mostly) everybody else...

I no like Madonna, she have funny looking chest. Look like ice cream cone.

I remember when I come over to USA, and get my very first calculator. It was old HP45 that someone give me because he say it junk and I could have it. It was like he gave me key to world, and all the worlds gold. I had only dreamed of such thing in Hungary, and here in USA, people just give it to me and say it was "junk" because it was old. I still have "Blinky" (my HP45) on my desk. In fact I looking at it now. I used to love and use Blinky when it dark in the room, and I still have fond memories of the soft dim glow of the LED's. Ahhhh, such memory.

Why I collect calculators, because they something I was never able to have in Hungary. I grew up in very humble home in Hungary where my Aunt and Uncle cared for me. It small miracle that they were able to send me to University. Now, I do well in USA, and I want to collect as many as possible just to have. I think of this as like collecting antique computing devices. :)

Edited: 23 Aug 2007, 8:57 a.m.



I miss them, the style and feel of the old ones, but only HP, as I have less than fond memories of old TIs, others.

Also, there's the weaker, but still real, historical interest.


Simply, because we love them.



I speak only for me, not "we"...

I happen to enjoy both calculators and collecting things. Then earlier this year, I lucked into an estate's worth of HP calcs for a rock-bottom price (11c, 12c, 15c, 28c, 28s, 19BII, 48s, 48g, 42s). I found corrections in the 11c manual made by the original owner; the widow who sold the calculators was touched to know that I had connected in a small way with her husband.

I played with the calculators and was instantly hooked on RPN. Now I'm a collector (much to my wife's chagrin).

I think that the reasons we collect are not nearly as interesting as the stories of our collections.



I apologize for the use of we; I certainly cannot speak for everyone.


Well, I don't know about Asperger's. I'm borderline autistic, myself. 8)

Seriously, I collect calculators because I like to play with them. I'm a systems engineer and programmer, and I love computer systems and networks. Seeing how these earlier examples were set up is endlessly fascinating to me. Then too, I started computing on an HP-41C in 1982, so I have a good deal of nostalgia for that platform. Since it is a complete system, with networking and everything, the 41C combines my two motivations in one platform. The 71B does that too. And I love programming the 42S, 48gx and 50g, though I know mentioning those in the same breath is tantamount to heresy, or at least esthetically dubious. 8)

I sort of collect languages, too. I've always been like that, learning tons of computer languages whenever I had a spare moment, for no better reason than intrinsic fascination. Several of those languages turned out to be fairly lucrative and career enhancing, but once again, that's not why I learned them. I just love systems. That has made for a pretty enjoyable career so far.


edtid fur speling oopseys

Edited: 21 Aug 2007, 2:08 p.m.


That has made for a pretty enjoyable career so far.

Reading in the biographies section, yours I think, I got curious about careers changed because of programmable calculators -- many examples would appear. But that's subject for another thread...




I'm not at all sure, but perhaps I might have given up a science career because repeated advanced college level calculations by hand got too tedius and took me too long into the early hours of the morning.

But I was saved by a HP-34C- it was programmable, had advanced hard-coded functions right on the keyboard, had lots (for then) of memory, AND CONTINUOUS MEMORY!!!


Now I have an HP-34C. I like it (it's been useful to show me where the HP-15C, my first HP calculator, came from). I am sure I would have liked it even more in 1982. Then I was in my first year as a Physics student, and had only a TI-51-III to play with. I was able to write a 32-step numerical integration program on it, although it would integrate only the built-in functions. The HP-34C, with SOLVE and Integrate keys would have been very nice, if I were only aware of it...

Turns out I was fascinated with calculator programming and changed to Computer Science. But then I discovered punching cards with COBOL and even Pascal codes was no fun and I changed again to EE. I guess I wouldn't have made it without my 15C, and later, my 48GX... I eventually graduated some years ago but I am still in the military. Hearing stories of succesful careers started or changed due to programmable calculators, like yours and Howard's, is always interesting.




... not so successful! But the HP scientific programmables surely have made it more bearable!


Because I like using them... (and possibly because after so long I can't get used to a 'normal' calculator).

Mike T.


Collector isn’t the best word to describe me since I only have two. Protagonist may be a better word. Over the years I’ve given as gifts an 11C (x2), 49g+, and 50g. My interest in them is strictly utilitarian. My wife once said gift shopping for me is difficult. I responded, “If it helps me fix or build something, it’s a hit!” All of my HPs have helped both causes. An HP has helped me make everything from bed frames, scale model solar systems, dark field reflectors, a barn, chicken coops, book cases, and even art work. The least likely thing I’ve ever made with an HP is a genuine curiosity in math for my niece who had learned to dislike the subject.

For curiosity sake, I’d love to have a collection of vintage calcs. But for day to day use, I’ll always reach for the one I’m most familiar with. These days, when I need to get the job done now, right, and fast, I reach for my 50g.

Very Respectfully,



I think it's an addiction. I remember when I got my first 48 [after owing a 41cx] and I was now starting my collection of survey programs, my wife told me "I wish I was an HP calculator, then maybe you'll play with me". :-) Most people feel it's weird collecting calculators. That's why I like this forum. It's a place where people who love HP calculators get to share their joys (35S), and sorrows (49G+) and hopes (42SX).


Why do we spend the time to collect and/or play with old (or in the case of the 35s, wannabe old) HP calculators?

This question has certainly been posed before in the MoHPC Forum, but here's an earnest list:

  1. Nostalgia, and the desire to obtain now what was coveted but unaffordable in one's youth -- much like classic cars

  2. The desire to appreciate and operate practical products that are well-engineered in virtually every aspect

  3. Particularly for us "natives", the importance of preserving the artifacts of an American corporation that exemplified engineering-driven excellence in a not-too-distant era

  4. Costs of collecting are not exorbitant; required space is minimal

  5. Required effort to repair, refurbish, and maintain is quite low -- particularly for LCD models

-- KS


Why, why, why... why does everybody ask why? Why does young boy do what he do? Why, because he like it and he can.

Why we collect old calculator, same reason, because we like it and we can.

I sorry for bad analogy, but I have very bad day, and everybody ask why. If you here, and have to ask why, then you damaged.

Edited: 23 Aug 2007, 8:56 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


If you find certain posts offensive or pointless when you've had a very bad day, then perhaps you shouldn't read the forum on such days, rather than insulting your fellow HP enthusiasts.



My friend Stefan. You very right. I apologize. I not find posting offensive, but just strange. I apologize if I offend you or anyone else. It was not very becoming of me.


Hi Vincze and Stefan.

Even though I understand Stefan's suggestion, I find that reading the Forum "on a bad day" often act as a remedy for my mood :-)

On the other hand, I must confess that, in my own experience, asking too many "whys" sometimes

was not so helpful...

Best regards.



i think that the philosophical answer would be: Why Not?


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