Slightly OT: Reviews of HP-41C & HP-150 in Byte Magazine


This past Sunday I attended the Vintage Computer Festival East 5.0. Got to hear a talk by Bill Mauchly , who is the son of John Mauchly, co-developer of the Eniac. Very enjoyable and interesting. Also got to see a lot of Vintage computers in operation.

While there, I picked up a stack of Byte Magazines from the early 1980's. In the January 1981 issue is a great review of the HP-41C - 11 pages long! The issue also had an article on Generating Bar Code in Hewlett-Packard Format written by Thomas McNeal of Hewlett-Packard.

In another issue, October 1983, was a review of the HP-150. This also included an interview with the Hp-150 Design-team Leaders.

I had forgotten how good and complete the articles were in Byte. Can you imagine a magazine today doing 10-20 page in-depth articles on one subject or (as was the case in Byte) long multi-part articles spread over several issues.

I'm having a blast reading these articles and looking over all the old advertisements. I especially like the ad for dBase II - The headline reads: dBASE II vs. the Bilge Pumps. and shows two photos - dBASE II in left photo and a Bilge Pump in the photo on the right.

Smithville, NJ


I used to have quite a bunch of them, but unfortunately I ended throwing them away.

I remember some amusing articles, especially one: an article with an idea to extend the instruction set of the 6502. It had a circuit that generated an exception upon spotting a forbidden bit pattern for an instruction opcode.

That exception saved on the stack the PC pointing to the offending code. So, once inside the interrupt routine you could read the offending code, decide how you wanted to decode it, save the proper PC for the return, and return from an interrupt :)

Clever and amusing at least ;)

Of course I remember the special issue devoted to the Forth language, a really nice series of four articles describing the 6809... (I think I still have those 5 issues)...


Hi Bill,

1. May you bring that 1981 Jan. issue of "Byte" with you?

2. May you scan those HP-41C pages, build up a pdf file for all us and provide a link for it?

I'd be glad to read those pages, and much more because I live in Italy, where that US issue of "Byte" is quite certainly unavailable.


-- Antonio


I have a Dec '74 (or '75) copy of BYTE that has an article written by Richard Nelson covering the HP65. I believe the article referred to is as the first personal computer. Now that I think of it, I believe Richard continues to call his HP (50G) his personal computer :-)



I would LOVE to read that article on the HP-65!
Joel Setton


I would LOVE to read that article..

I was afraid of that ;-) I'll try to dig it out and scan it. I wonder if it's OK to post it here at the museum, or if that would violate any copyright or museum rules? If not, I can just email to you. IIRC, it's only two or three pages including a photo or two.



Matt, I'd like to see that article also.


So do I! Thanks in advance.


May I add my name to the list?


Me too. Thanks in advance!


I've scanned the Dec.'75 BYTE article written by Richard Nelson covering the HP65. The zipped file is 2MB. If anyone would like a copy, please send me an email through the "Museum" and I'll forward the article to you.


p.s. I've emailed the members above that have already requested a copy (requesting that they send me their email address).


I've scanned in the two HP-41C articles.

Anyone wanting a copy, just email me though the HPMuseum and I'll email copy back to you.

I havn't done the HP-150 articles yet. Is there anyone interested in it? If so, I'll try to do it this weekend.

Smithville, NJ


Hello Bill.

The site will not let me send you an email - the curse of only reading, but never contributing.

I would greatly appreciate a copy. Please send me an email and I will forward you my email address.

Thanks again,




The HP-41C: A Literate Calculator


One essential capability must be added to the
calculator before such higher-level commands can be
made available. A high-level language is a program
whose output is another program, and so it is necessary
that instructions be allowed to operate not only on data
but also an other instructions. In this context, it seems
significant that the inability of a calculator to alter its
own instructions is what most clearly distinguishes
calculators from computers.

This clear distinction became vague after the discovery of synthetic programming. I wonder how the author would
define that today.


I have sent emails with the files attached to everyone you has requested the two articles.

Each file is 3 meg each and I did get two rejects for too large an attachment. For those two, I sent two separate emails, one for each article, so hopefully they will make them thru the email system.


Smithville, NJ


Bill, I would also like the HP-41 article.
Many thanks, Jeff


Bill, either I wasn't on your list or something went wrong with your mail. Can you try again on "marcus at mvcsys dot de", please?


Thanks for the articles Bill.
I find it interesting how Brian Hayes, the author of "The HP-41C: A Literate Calculator" accurately predicted the evolution of HP calculators to include features such as named variables and a high level language (RPL).

I also really enjoyed reading the advertisements in the 1981 issue of Byte magazine. For only $395 I could add 32K of RAM to my KIM computer trainer board! Of course then I remembered that I had paid almost $100 in 1979 to add an additional 4K of RAM to my Ohio Scientific Challenger 1P. This brought it to a whopping 8K of RAM total! I feel very old now....

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