Where to buy HP calcs in 1974


Here's a question for the old-timers: where could you buy HP calculators made in the 70's and 80's, before there were business supply stores like Staples and Office Depot, and retailers like Walmart, Circuit City, and Best Buy? I know about college bookstores; I bought my HP16c at the University of Maryland bookstore in College Park around 1982. Where did the engineers of those days buy them?


Don, I remember to have seen the first scientific pocket calcs (HP and TI) in our university paper shop in 1973. Shortly after that, HP calcs appeared in one department store in the same city. It took more time to spread in the office supply shops -- they used to sell Aristo at that time in Germany.


Back in 1974, engineers and scientists bought HP calculators directly from their HP sales reps, just like scopes and voltmeters.


Here's a question for the old-timers: where could you buy HP calculators made in the 70's and 80's?

I bought my HP-45 in 1974 from a branch of Dixon's, which was primarily a camera store, in London. I got my 65 a couple of years later directly from HP, and the same for the 67.

My first 41C came from a department store here in Sydney, but after that, I bought most of my calcs from Boon & Co's duty-free outlet at Singapore Airport.

So now you know . . .


--- Les



I bought my first programmable calculator, a TI-58c, in a stationers store in a mall in 1981. They had HPs too. After that, it was mail-order, from EduCalc and Elec-Tek (sp?) for my 41cx and 71B and all accessories, although I kept seeing the 41, 10, 11, 12, 15, and 16 in stationers and small office-supply stores.


garth: yep, jim at educalc and hal at elec-tek got a lot of my money when i didn't have any.


During the 80's I was lucky enough to live a short distance from the Elek-Tek store (Northwest side of Chicago). I bought my first HP there (a 15c) and several others over the years. I was too young and poor to buy an HP in 1974, though.



My HP25 (1976... or was it 1977?) was bought by a friend at Woodward & Lothrop, in or near Washington DC.


... but a friend of mine bought his HP45 near the end of 1974 at a office-equipment shop in Buenos Aires. Such shops were the first to offer HP or TI calculators here, alongside with typewriters, copiers, desktop (paper roll) calculators and similar items. We even had a rather large, yearly event "Expo-Oficina", ran by the "Argentine chamber of office equipment manufacturers", that was the place to go, for instance, to see an TI SR50A in 1974, as I did.


I had to mahe trips to the UCSD college bookstore for my HP-35 and 67 and take wads of money. That was the only place in 1967? Sam


That was the only place in 1967?

That's a bit off...even the early HP-9100 wasn't available until 1968. The HP-35 came out in mid-1972 ($400 price is about $1800 today), and the HP-67 came out in late-1976 ($450 price is about $1700 today). I had been a graduate in EE from Georgia Tech for three years by the time I could scrape up enough to spare for that HP-67, my first HP.

As a engineer, I used nearby university bookstores for most of my HP purchases. I got my HP-67 from the MIT Coop, because I was working in Maine at the time.

I got my HP-21 from a US Navy base exchange in 1978, and my HP-41C from a Tulsa office supply in 1980.

Engineering school bookstores were good places for anyone to get HP calcs right through the late 1990s. When I needed an HP 42S in 1997 (two years after its discontinuance), I was able to find two new ones in the bookstore at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.



Here's a question for the old-timers: where could you buy HP calculators made in the 70's and 80's, before there were business supply stores like Staples and Office Depot, and retailers like Walmart, Circuit City, and Best Buy?

Trading posts! How old do you think we are?

There have always been stores like that. Just different names and not on every street corner.

However, university book stores were a great place.

Edited: 7 Mar 2008, 8:23 p.m.


Hi Don,

I bought my first HP calculator at Shillitos Department Store in your home town, Louisville, Ky. It was a HP-25. They had a fairly complete office equipment counter with most of the HP calculators and a few other office machines. I spent many weeks of lunch hours at that counter wishing I could afford the HP-25.

I finally broke down and applied for my first credit card. I think the calculator cost a little over $100 and they gave me a line of credit for $200. I've never regretted getting the calculator, but I have wondered many times if getting that first credit card was a mistake :)



Sorry not 1974 but 1978:

My first: an HP-25C from an ad by a mail-house in Colorado in the back pages of Scientific American. Thanks to the folks of this Forum it still works like new, 49 program steps and all!



Adray Camera in Dearborn, MI. An HP25c, purchased in 1977 or '78 to stop a coworker from constantly borrowing my TI SR-50.

Stopped him dead in his tracks!

I had always wanted an HP after seeing the first HP-35's and 45's in college. Sure beat slide rules for doing chem lab! The SR-50, which I purchased from TI in 1974 as a stop gap, just didn't do it for me (Still have that machine too, but it doesn't work - keys died. The 25c DOES still work!)


More on my HP-25C. While I'm waiting for it to arrive in the mail, I kept looking at the photo of it in the ad and kept asking myself "what in the world is the NOP instuction supposed to do?"



Trent, I don't know about NOP on the 25C, but on my 65 it is used after a conditional instruction (like X>Y). On the 65, if the conditional test is true, it executes the next TWO instructions (because the usual GOTO requires 2 instructions). You use the NOP if you only want one instruction there, and the NOP acts as a placeholder, sort of.


More on my HP-25C ... "what in the world is the NOP instuction supposed to do?"

The HP-25 does not have insert and delete instructions like later calculators. You can only write over existing program lines. NOP can be stored in a program line of an existing program to eliminate an undesired instruction at that line, while leaving the remainder of the program intact. Without NOP, deleting instructions in the middle of a program would require re-entry of all the existing instructions that had followed the deleted instructions.

The HP-25 programming model takes some getting used to since it lacks labels, subroutines, indirection, indexing, and DSE/ISG instructions, in addition to lacking INS and DEL editing commands. The major advance made in the HP-29C was the addition of all these missing program elements and more memory that was non-volatile.

The HP-34C is likely the most capable handheld scientific calculator of the LED era. The Spice and Woodstock machines have the same number of keys in the same arrangement. I'd love to have an HP-34C built in to the Woodstock package. IMHO, the Woodstock is the sturdiest and easiest-to-hold calculator *ever* produced, while the Spice is the flimsiest.



Of course I know after all these years what the "NOP" instruction is all about, but at the time it was mysterious until the calc arrived in the mail and the instructions were read.



From Canada's dominant retail chain of department stores, Eaton's, of course! Simpsons-Sears only carried Commodore's scientific calculator. And the local business machines retailer was still carrying K&E sliderules.

My HP calculator still works perfectly - its battery holder rebuilt too many times to count. Eaton's chain of department store, on the other hand, folded in 1999, after operating for 130 years.


Edited: 9 Mar 2008, 8:52 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


From Canada's dominant retail chain of department stores, Eaton's, of course!

I bought about several HP-65 Application Pacs cheaply from Eaton's, at the Eaton Center in Toronto, sometime around March or April 1977. Got the EE 1 Pac, Math 1 & 2, Nav Pac, etc. The cards were stolen along with the calc a few years later, but I still have the manuals on my bookshelf.

--- Les



Here in Raleigh/Durham, NC area, a local survey/civil engineering gear retailer called Surveyor's Supply had a full line of HP calculators and HP accessories. I bought my HP-41C from them in 1980. I also remember a one department store (a regional chain called Belk) sold some HP and the higher end TI programmable calcs in the late 70s.



In the early 80s, I was a big customer of Surveyor's Supplies, as I lived in neighboring Virginia. At that time they were in the territory of the HP rep in Richmond, Virginia . I bought many HP41C accessories from them, my first PC (an HP-85B) with several ROMS, and eventually drives for the Apple ][+ computer.



I purchased my first HP-25 in 1975 from a Sears store in the Denver area. I proudly wore it on my belt during all my waking hours—even on weekends.

At the time, my father was an engineer on the second bore of the Eisenhower Tunnel. One day I was visiting the job site at 11,000 feet and one of the other engineers on the project noticed my HP-25 sidearm. He proudly showed me his brand new HP-67. He had just upgraded from an HP-65 and had no further use for it. He gave me the HP-65, case, cards and manuals on the spot!

A few months later I was participating in a Math Bowl competition at the Colorado School of Mines. During a lunch break I noticed a blueprint supplies and services store sporting a large HP logo in its window. I was drawn like a moth to the flame. They had several HP-67’s and HP-97’s locked behind the store’s glass display counter. But my eyes were not drawn to the calculators. They were drawn to a hand printed sheet of green E2 paper taped to the case proclaiming, “Trade-Ins Accepted.” Now, for the Math Bowl I was packing my HP-25 on the left hip (I’m left handed) and the HP-65 on the right. (I was trying to intimidate the competition.) Before the lunch hour was over, a price was agreed upon and my HP-65 was left behind as “earnest money.” It took several months to scrape together a couple of hundred bucks. But eventually the transaction was completed.

I still have that HP-67. The whole transaction was the start of a strange illness that led me to fill an entire spare bedroom with HP calculator paraphernalia.

Mark Hardman (LED)

Houston Texas


Well I was in high school in the 70's so I didn't know much about HP's then but when I started engineering in the early 80's I learned very quickly that RPN was for me and HP calcs were the best around.

I purchased my first HP-67 from a co-worker in 1983. In 1986 I sold it and bought a 41CV from Service Merchandise, a retail store in Cincinnati, Oh.

In 2003 I was given a 41CX from another co-worker who saw my CV, he mentioned he had just thrown out a calculator that looked like it. Fortunately trash collection hadn't picked it up yet so he brought it in the next day. It was in mint condition but he had no idea how to use it. Lucky for me!

I still use them both, the CX at work and the CV at home. They're awesome calculators.



Hi, Don --

Things weren't all that different in the late 1970's and early 1980's. I remember frequenting a small office-supply store and the electronics department of large retailers in northwestern part of the US, such as Fred Meyer and J.K. Gill. The HP-41 and TI-55 were available at those places, and also at a university boookstore, where I finally bought my HP-15C in 1983.

-- KS


I aint gots nuthin to say. I wasnt ole enuf to have nor get permission from Mom and Dad to spen dat kine of money in sevenny fore.


An here I wuz thinkin I wuz ole alreddy.


I was seven years old back then and another six years away from my first programmable, the amazing Casio fx180p. I still have it.


After a loud whooshing sound, Don Shepherd walks into his basement out of a cloud of fog, with lights flashing behind him. On his face, the look of disappointment and frustration. He goes to his computer, minimizes the window for an auction that he was setting up for many "New In Box Red Dot HP-35 Calculators", opens the HP museum site and askes:

where could you buy HP calculators made in the 70's and 80's

Edited: 8 Mar 2008, 12:35 a.m.


Several Photography/Electronics stores in NYC carried HP calculators in the late 70's and 80's. In particular, I remember buying a few of mine from "Smile Photo" and later from a store called "E 33".


Actually, I picked up my HP-45 at Macy's in Valley View Mall in Dallas in 1976. Took me all summer to save up the $400 needed, too...


I remember catalogs with wonderful line drawings of the calculators they sold.

Anyone have an old Olympic sales catalog they could scan?

Also, B.A. Pargh was a big wholeseller of lots of things, including calculators. They were located here in TN, so I picked up catalogs periodically. These had good line drawings too.

Anyone have an old B.A. Pargh Catalog they could scan?

Wish I had kept hold of some of those now. :-)


P.S. I was a johnny-come-lately to the HP world. Bought my HP 41c from Elek-Tek in 1980.


We had people wear slide rules on belts, I was an EE student but thought that was over the top. I had a brief case I borrowed from dad. We had one guy buy an HP and wear it on his belt. He came to me in tears, his battery wouldn't last 5 minutes as he never used it. I asked him what the book said to do, he said run it flat and charge it. I said do that. My battery would last 2 hours at first, but I used it a LOT and it would last 3 hours! HP did rule! May they rise again if they can stick with RPN. Sam


I got my 25C (in '76) through a friend of the family, who was an HP employee. She ordered it through HP's internal employee purchase program with a nice discount. :)

In '78 I got my 29C from Professional Office Supply in Phoenix (their sticker is still on the calculator, but their store is long gone!!).

Best Regards, Hal


Oh yes...almost forgot,

My recently acquired HP35 was purchased at the US Air Force Academy cadet bookstore (by my cousin) in 1974...it has wings...mathematically speaking...8)



I had purchased my HP45 in early 1974 from either Adray Camera in Dearborn(Detroit), Michigan or Wayne State University Bookstore in Detroit. I believe Hudsons Department Store also sold HP calculators at the time.

I purchased my HP65 in 1975 from Olympic Sales in Los Angeles by mail as they sold it for $700; a $100 dollar savings from the $800 list price.



Scientific American came with a punch out, fold up mockup of an HP35. I played with it for a couple of days, maked believe pushing buttons and decided I could use it. A peddler in sales had one so I asked to try it, he roared get your own, so I did. Soon my boss asked to use it during a negotiating session with the customer. They started throwing new numbers at him, and he just started throwing numbers back. He won the day


I guess I got my '35 in early 1974 - after using my Dad's over Christmas to calculate a lot of stuff for my Ph.D. thesis.

The bookstore at Caltech had them at the then-$395 price - more than this graduate student could afford (almost 2 month's stipend). I guess some other enterprising grad student was aware that the price was about to be lowered to $295 and he was talking orders, including mine, at that price. Apparently, that did not set well with both the bookstore and HP, and his orders were all but rescinded, but finally taken over by the campus bookstore for the $295 price, so mine was soon in hand (soon enough for some more thesis calculations before the end of the summer of 1974).

So, you could get them at the Caltech campus bookstore, but they did their best to keep the price up!



C'mon, we're your friends...

Please let us in on the Time Travel Machine (TTM) so we can
have you pick up a few New In Box (NIB) HP-35 (Red Dot)'s
for us too!

Or were you planning to buy a couple cases for yourself and
gradually sell them to us through That Auction Site (TAS)?



dona nobis pacem


Hi Ren (and all).

No, I don't have a time travel machine that would allow me to go back to 1974 and buy cases of HP calculators. If I did have a time travel machine, I'd go to Churchill Downs and buy some winning tickets on 100-to-1 longshots!

I was just curious about where HP calculators were sold in the old days, and from these responses I am surprized that so many different types of stores (camera, department, jewelry, engineering supply, etc.) sold them, in addition to college bookstores.

As I said, my first HP was the 16c. I was a computer scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in the Washington DC suburbs around 1983, and I got my 16c at the University of Maryland bookstore. Prior to that (or maybe after that, I can't remember exactly), I also got the TI equivalent of the 16c (minus the programming, of course), the TI Programmer I think it was called, and it could do conversions and logical operations in decimal, binary, octal, and hex. I can't remember where I bought that one, though. It died years ago.

Thanks to all who contributed here, this is fascinating stuff, and no, I don't have a basement full of NIB calculators!


Hi Don,

On some of the Dutch brochures on the museum DVD (mainly those of the Woodstock series) you’ll find the name of one of the local (=Netherlands) suppliers back then: book store Broekhuis in Hengelo though I got my first HP (21) via a students organisation about 1 day before the price dropped from ƒ399 (€180) to something significantly lower. I tried, but I didn’t succeed in getting some money back.

My second and final HP (29C) was from Vroom en Dreesmann (V&D by today’s standards), a have-it-all mall I would call it. I still have the guarantee leaflet with cashier print out attached, which I just scanned for you. Unfortunately I cannot post the scan here nor can I send it to you via this site. If you send me your e-mail address I’ll do so directly.

There has never been a third HP. I couldn’t afford to upgrade nor was I forced to because the 29C just never went out of order.


In 1977 (I think) I purchased an HP-21 somewhere in Portland, OR. I distinctly remember we were traveling there to visit relatives, and I somehow knew that they were to be found somewhere in the city. (I also remember being somewhat distracted during the visit, and wishing my wife would handle the 2-hour drive home so I could keep playing with my new toy.)

But that doesn't help much, 'cause I don't know where it was.

When I upgraded to a 29C (in '78?) it was via mail order -- I think from Educalc.

In neither case did my family of four really "have the money" -- I think school loans were involved in both cases -- yet it was money very well-spent.

Edited: 10 Mar 2008, 1:16 p.m.


Like Trent and maybe some others, I bought my first one (in 1974, an HP-45) direct from HP using an order coupon clipped from a magazine ad. It was probably from a Popular Science or Popular Mechanics, but I don't recall for sure. I still have the 45 and it works fine.

The second one, a 29C purchased in 1978 or 1979, came from a Shillitos in Springfield, Ohio. As mentioned in another post, Shillitos, a mall-type department store chain (which eventually morphed into Macy’s), carried HP calculators in a glass counter in their electronics departments. I had to drive a ways because my local Shillitos were no longer stocking the 29C, as the spice series was then more current. I had purchased a 33E (I think) from my local Shillitos, but decided I did not like it and returned it to enable purchase of the 29C. Some years later, one of the keys on the 29C stopped working, then it became a toy for my son (I had moved on to a 15C). Then it got lost or thrown away, and then I figured out that I'd like to collect these things. D'oh!


I traded my 29C several years BeB (Before eBay) for a 42S. (IIRC, the transaction was arranged with an Aussie who frequents this site.)

I loved the 42S, but came to regret losing the 29C MANY times since.

(That 29C was, I now think, my all-time favorite calculator.)


I bought my HP-35 directly from HP, after they ran an ad in Scientific American. I used to drool at the HP calculators on display at Woodward & Lothrop, a major department store in Washington, D.C.. I really wanted an HP-65, but it was way out of my league. In later years, I bought many HP calculators, mostly from mail-order calculator dealers, since they were hard to find in local stores.


I bought my 25 in 76 directly from HP. They were available at my local Marshall Field department store too. Later on when I bought my 41C in 79, they were available at Farnsworth Computer near my home. They sold HP calcs and the 80 series computer as well as Apple II.

Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  [Download] libhpcalcs: a toolkit for communicating with Prime calcs... debrouxl 13 3,463 11-18-2013, 05:22 AM
Last Post: debrouxl
  HP-35 blind buy but buggy! Max Stone 7 2,404 11-11-2013, 05:56 PM
Last Post: Dieter
  Swiss Micros calcs Mike Powell 6 1,901 10-26-2013, 05:03 PM
Last Post: Mike Powell
  Where to safely buy a PRIME John Stark 14 3,145 10-10-2013, 03:26 PM
Last Post: Terje Vallestad
  Help me alert regular users to dangers to their calcs Bruce Larrabee 12 2,698 10-06-2013, 08:30 PM
Last Post: Bruce Larrabee
  OT: Reversing Sinclair's amazing 1974 calculator hack - half the ROM of the HP-35 Egan Ford 6 2,209 09-02-2013, 10:54 PM
Last Post: Thomas Klemm
  Reversing Sinclair's amazing 1974 calculator hack MikeO 4 1,465 08-31-2013, 05:48 PM
Last Post: Les Koller
  USB Chargers for HP calcs Matt Agajanian 3 1,234 08-18-2013, 10:58 PM
Last Post: Craig Ruff
  Look on Fournier pressure sensor for HP calcs Mic 0 737 04-11-2013, 12:57 PM
Last Post: Mic
  Safe charging LED HP calcs Anoop Sahal 6 1,765 03-29-2013, 09:08 AM
Last Post: Anoop Sahal

Forum Jump: