Calculator Emulators


In this post, Luca de Alfaro wrote:

<<But aside from this: there's a wonderful RPN calculator called mathU for the Palm Pilot. I have it. They came out recently with a programmable version of it. I think this is what the future of RPN calculators will be like, and I actually like it. True, no keys any more, but total reconfigurability, low price ($30ish), huge memory (32000 steps!), and when you are done computing, it stores addresses, memos, appointments, plays chess, checks your email, and more!>>

I've just bought an HP Jornada 568 and I'm running emu48. It's amazingly good fun. Physically the same size as a 12C (the 12C slip case is a perfect fit) and the emulator is faster than the 48GX. Best of all was the price: $0.00 :-)

The quality of this Jornada seems, to me, so far, to be quite impressive. It's not a calc, and it has zero tactile feedback, but I'm really surprised how much I like it considering I was (am?) a die-hard 200LX fan.


I also have MathU Pro and I love it. I have been using it for several months now. I rarely need to pull out my trusty HP11C. Programmable steps very similar to the HP41 and fits in my pocket. Perhaps HP should wake up and notice that all these Palm devices have a footprint similar to the HP10 series machines. Who want to carry a bulky calculator anymore? I too miss the tactile feedback, but am willing to make the sacrifice.


I agree that the right piece of software will go a long way toward salving the hurt of lost tactile feedback. Producing new, purpose-built devices just isn't as practical as running customizable software on a general-purpose device.

What if, from the immense library of HP-48/49 calculator functions, one could chose exactly those which are desired for one's particular area of interest. (Or, better yet, in the plural: "areas" of interest.) Once selected, how 'bout we could assign functions to buttons on the interface, and lay out the keyboard however we desire? Maybe we could choose between RPN and Algebraic operation . . .

We could have the best of HP usability and functional utility in a flexible, customizable, connectible (don't forget, ever more powerful, and expandable) and portable unit -- a calculator software engine with customizable "skins" for each use. (A programmer's calculator with hex conversions, a workshop calculator with fractions and trig, a symbolic math workhorse with SOLVE and differentiation, etc.)

Further, the implementation of a simpler "system within a system" (RPL within Windows) would bring a calculator-like programming environment to non-programmers, giving them greater use of their PCs and Pocket PCs.

As much as I like my HP-32S and -42S, I must confess that for my daily tasks, I'd gladly substitute equivalent, well-integrated, customizable software running on my Pocket PC.



Why not? I began thinking of it at the right moment I read Brogger's post. As happened here before, why not trying this 48 Builder? (Urgh! Sorry; no better name came to my mind...) It would be a very interesting environment. As Brogger says: "calculator-like programming environment to non-programmers". If I got the idea, the 49G already has part of it (File Manager).

I once wrote a single program that was later converted to SYS RPL (a LIB object) for the HP48SX. Time ago... But I think it's not difficult for the brainy guys in here. I'm gonna be in vacancies soon, and if there is nothing till there, I'll try some scratches.

Good post, Brogger. (did you get the scans?)


I've just bought an HP Jornada 568 and I'm running emu48. It's amazingly good fun. Physically the same size as a 12C (the 12C slip case is a perfect fit) and the emulator is faster than the 48GX. Best of all was the price: $0.00 :-)

Well, I'd say it's a pretty expensive calculator for $649, and the thing doesn't even have a real keyboard. :)

IMHO, these devices are not ready for serious math work. Not until they can decypher handwriting with 99.9% accuracy and translate formulas and command words into calculator input quickly and reliably.


Yes, fair point. I had conveniently forgotten the purchase price of the PDA! Actually, I paid nearer $800. Only the Yanks get to pay a fair price for anything. The rest of the world just gets shafted. You know, it costs soooo much money to ship these things across the Atlantic. Anyway, it's my new toy and I like it.

On a serious note, I can't imagine how a PDA could ever be suitable for serious math work. Not without a proper calculator keyboard and then you end up with a calculator again. I've been using (=playing with) Derive on my HP200 for ages, but I bet most people on this list would rather have had a proper calc.

I think that some people will always need a traditional calculator, it's just that more and more of those people will be persuaded to put up with the limitations of newer devices in exchange for the convenience of all-in-oneness or even because you can't buy a decent calc any more.


I'll agree that the price of a decent CE machine is steep, so that's why I opted for a Palm OS machine. For $200 it fits my needs and is smaller than a CE device. I carry my laptop anyway, so I don't miss the CE features. Perhaps these emulators will never replace a calculator for serious math work, as you say, but that presumes a quality calculator being available.


I spent under $200 for my iPAQ 3150 -- half the RAM, most of the functionality, but monochrome. (Every time I see a color iPAQ screen I feel a surge of envious regret, but the $250 extra was/is simply out of the question.)

I've got a servicable unit, and have entered a product stream that appears to have a good future. The display has its drawbacks, and some color apps simply don't work or are illegible in monochrome mode. Overall, I think, a good price/usability compromise, but with some painfully apparent limitations.


I've always been sceptical of colour. Mainly because it tended to be applied as a gimmick, rather than used to impart additional information.

But, there is one thing I find astounding about the 586's screen. Although it looks like a laptop screen, you can turn the backlight off and, in bright sunshine, the back of the screen reflects like the 200's. You can see the screen, in colour, really clearly. In the old days(!) you had to turn the backlight up to compete with the sun. Guess who'd lose.

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