2009 To Celebrate 30 Years Since the HP41C Was Released


Happy New Year All,

As we near the advent of 2009, I can only think that it marks 30 years since the HP-41C was launched. I remember spending teh summer with my family in Orange county, California, when my father brought me a USA Today newspaper that had the announcement for the HP-41C. Quite by chance, I found EduCalc in the Yellow Pages and drove there. I was able to buy/loan a copy of the manual which I read with great amazement as I learned about the new features. I could not wait to return to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I was studying to order and HP-41C.

I hope the HHC2009 conference will pay a special focus for the HP-41C and it's legacy. The HP-41C and it's wealth of modules (special mention for the PPC ROM module), user programs, books, is for me by far the best vintage HP calculator.

So, here is to you my favorite HP-41C!!



Given the (relatively) large community of HP41C-lovers, I'm sure 2009 will see some events related to its anniversary. We didn't experience great celebrations for the HP42S turning 20 this year, though. Wait'n'see.

BTW, since once upon a time writing was invented to ease understanding, your last statement

So, here is to you my favorite HP-41C!!

shall read: "So, here is to you my favorite: HP-41C!!" or "So, here is to you: my favorite HP-41C!!" or ... ??

Hello Namir,

I also remember very well when I first saw the hp-41 displaying at my local HP reseller (Jobin in Lausanne-Switzerland). One year before (I was 14) I had bought my first HP calculator, an HP-67, with the money I earned in a TV game. I made my first "weapons" on programming on the hp-67, helping my dad doing some programming for his job (civil engineer). When I was able to "play" with the HP-41C and see all its new features, I promply sold my hp-67 to buy an HP-41c. Programming was much, much easier as it was possible to display the name of the functions instead of the key positions.

I spent entire evenings and week-ends discovering the new features of this fantastic calculator. Later, when synthetic programming of the HP-41 was revealed to me in the french "Ordinateur individuel" computer magazine, a whole new world opened and I spent even more time optimizing my programs using the new extended functions.

Althoug the hp-67 has a special place in my heart because it was my first HP, the HP-41 is definitely my favorite of all. I hope HP will make something really special for this anniversary!

Edited: 30 Dec 2008, 11:38 a.m.


Wow. 14!

I bought my first, an HP-45, at 17. I was still 18 when I went to the credit union for a loan to buy an HP-65.

We all love our HPs, and the legacy of innovation that they symbolize.

It's kind of sad in a way.

HP's calculator engineers had such a profound effect on our lives in the 70's.

I really miss the WOW factor - where would we be if the PC world had followed up with the rate of innovation that HP gave us back then?


Hi, Namir --

As we near the advent of 2009, I can only think that it marks 30 years since the HP-41C was launched. I remember spending teh summer with my family in Orange county, California, when my father brought me a USA Today newspaper that had the announcement for the HP-41C.

Your memory is slightly faulty. The HP-41C was introduced in 1979, as you imply, but USA Today debuted in 1983. Perhaps you were thinking of the HP-41CX, which was introduced that year.

I admit to spending some time at a few retail counters, experimenting with the HP-41 around 1980-81. It was too pricey, but I ended up buying an HP-15C in 1983 with the intent of getting an HP-34C.

-- KS


Sounds like it was another newspaper.




This is a little off-topic, but it is an HP-41 anniversary of sorts.

Last week my beloved 41CX turned 20. By the time I bought it, in November 1989, it had been discontinued and on the shelf for nearly a year.

Back then I was looking for a new calculator, and function library models by Casio were available. The sound thing to do, I was told, was buying one of those. Having used 41s intermittently since 1986, I chose not to listen to that advise and spent all I had in a 41CX; it might have been discontinued but it was still pricey to me.

About a week or so later the Berlin Wall fell, while I was going through the manuals.

Curiously, I did write down the serial number on the User's Manual, not knowing exactly what it meant. In May 2000 I found this site while searching for software in the Web, and learned how to decode serial numbers; it turned out that my 41 was made in late 1988.

Thirty years of the 41 Series, twenty years with my 41CX, and still going strong.



As this is a forum on HP calculators and not on English literature nor newspaper history, may I suggest that comments concentrate on the main subject of the message ? I don't see the use of having posts reviewed in details to find grammatical errors or minor inconsistencies that are not related to the main subject of the message.

Edited: 30 Dec 2008, 3:17 p.m.


Your post is unwarranted. Karl correctly pointed out an inconsistency in a previous post - very much in accordance with the rules and etiquette as I understand them of this and other similar fora.

I for one, always appreciate the logic and completeness of Karl's postings and do not see anything at all amiss with his comments in this case.

I also have a HP 41C with all necessary accessories (for me that is...). It was made in the inaugural year of the American Newspaper, USA Today.




I for one, always appreciate the logic and completeness of Karl's postings and do not see anything at all amiss with his comments in this case.

I never implied that either Karl or Walter were wrong in their comments neither that they were violating any rules. The main idea of the post was to bring back good memories of a calculator that some of us really appreciated and expressing a hope that HP will do something special for the commemoration of its 30th anniversary. Despite some minor inconsistencies in the post, I'm sure everyone understood the main idea of the message.

I think that if someone comments on such a post by pointing out some inconsistencies in the grammar or in the name of a newspaper mentioned in the post, he's missing a point. I'm sure that there are plenty of technical posts where such comments are very much appreciated. But for posts that are more on the emotional level, I think it’s unnecessary.


Pascal, I fully agree with you. Still I think we shouldn't take things too seriously on this board. It's a museum after all - not about real important stuff ;-)

As an aside: I loved Karl's newspaper remark on USA Today not existing at the time. My PI mind is just thrilled ;)

Concerning Walter's punctuation remark: I don't even see what the semantic difference between those three versions could be...my mind must be numbed by too much booze, as is common with us PIs.

A Happy New Year to all of you!

Edited: 3 Jan 2009, 3:50 a.m.


Presumably, Namir would remember 1979 from his youth, so we should assume that he was referring to the original HP-41C in the newspaper advertisement. However, by adding the incorrect adjective detail "USA Today" in front of "newspaper", Namir inadvertently created some ambiguity. It was also plausible that the subject was the just-released HP-41CX in 1983, when USA Today debuted.

An anecdote about USA Today: At first, its content was largely fluff and light reading. Its slogan, "THE NATION'S NEWSPAPER", which is still printed on the masthead and vending boxes, was easily lampooned as "THE NATION'S NEW PAP" by scratching out a few letters. The content is much more substantial today, and the publication is no longer new.

As for Namir's toast to the HP-41:

"So, here is to you my favorite HP-41C!!"

I'd state it this way:

"Here's to you -- my favorite, the HP-41C!"

As Namir has authored and co-authored a few books in English, even minor errors of fact and prose are "fair game" for good-natured correction...

-- KS

Edited: 4 Jan 2009, 2:14 a.m.


In addition to Jeff's post (thanks Jeff!), let me state that we talk a lot about math and logic here, and the basis of this is the proper use of terms. Precision is inevitable, also in writing. Decoding what the author wanted to tell is sometimes hard for me. It may be trivial for others. An American English habitat may help, but it's not mine. However, I will keep asking as long as I'm interested in the topic. Thanks for bearing this.


An American English habitat may help, but it's not mine.

Your English is quite precise. Not so some of the ESL (English as a Second Language) posters here, but I admire them for their courage to express themselves for everyone's benefit. I am a native American English speaker, and frankly, I despair at some of the horrible grammar and spelling I see online (usually not this site though).


I, too, enjoy the presentations of the non-native English speakers here on the Forum. They do far better than I would in some other language, even in French, which I studied for 5 or 6 years (but 40 years ago).

Some of the most enjoyable conversations I've had were with a native German speaker whose English was VERY good, but who wanted to do better. He would ask me about finer points of grammar or meaning, which really made me think.

For example, for you native English speakers, consider the words "priceless" and "worthless" and how a non-native might think of them. At first glance, they are nominally the same, but in fact have opposite meanings!


Hello Dave,

To quote Robert A. Heinlein, a person who speaks only one language does not even know his language, because he/she cannot compare it with another one.

From priceless/worthless in English to tacit subject in Spanish and Portuguese to declensions replacing articles in Russian, it is always good to know at least a bit of another language to have a better understanding of how your mother tongue handles when it comes to express anything.

Just my two cents.



Hear, hear. In this new year, may we resolve to resist our urges to channel our 4th grade grammar teachers.


From Usenet guidelines dating back at least to the 1980's:

"Spelling flames could be avoided by remembering that people make mistakes, and that a lot of Net users use English as a second language so they are vulnerable to some spelling and grammatical errors. There are also people who are dyslexic to they have difficulty noticing their mistakes. However, if a comment should be made on the quality of another person's posting, it can be done by sending the comments directly to the person's e-mail address and not to the Usenet address."

Edited: 1 Jan 2009, 2:21 p.m. after one or more responses were posted



A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year 2009 and a Memorable 30year Celebration of our dear HP41C.

Reading this topic takes me down the memory lane. When HP41C was first introduced I was in my final year of engineering programme. I bought my first HP calculator, a HP41CV, in England in 1985. I remember my purchase order was so important to the HP Dealer that he drove 90 miles to deliver the calculator, the card reader and some modules to me. The next day when I switched on to use I realised the first decimal point, from the left hand side, was not displaying at all. I called the dealer and he told me that since this was a defect I had to call HP for warranty claims. It was then I decided to go for a HP41CX and proposed to the dealer whether he would exchange the defective HP41CV with a HP41CX if I paid the difference and he gets to deal with HP for the warranty claims. He agreed and drove again to swap the units. This is how I ended up owning a HP41CX. It was a big investment for me then as it cost my half my annual income (I was living and working in India and was deputed to England for a project). It was immensely helpful to develop and verify some power-converter designs and it was an object of envy in the company where I worked. I still have the first HP41CX and some more units of the HP41C family which I subsequently purchased.


The HP-41C/CV/CX brought a leap in personal programming, compared to the HP-65, HP-67, HP-25, HP-29C/19C, and so on. The 41 had more memory and programming features making it possible to programs that rival some short FORTRAN or BASIC programs. I remember using the HP-41C for nonlinear crescent curve fit, thus replacing my employer's use of a time-share IBM terminal that executed a FORTRAN program that did the same curve fit.


I remember getting 1st the 41C on a tuesday, but it had too little memory, but lucky enough I managed to trade it to the 41CV on thursday. Later when the CX arrived I got that, too, but before it I managed to once use my 41CV in IBM mainframe programming when I had to check why about 127 or so "epoc" events where not coiunting up correctly. Whew! What a sentence. I programmed the calculator to simply prompt for input of those events using R0 as the index. ASfter filling the registers uo I programmed a viewer to see if I keyed the numbers in correctly. Four were wrong. I correct then manually by directly storing the correct values to the appropiate registers. I viewed again everything and all the numbers were correct now, Next I made a routine that summed up the numbers from regs 1 to 127 anf sum was the desired one, but the Cobol program was not getting that answer. I was moving packed binaries with signs directly to unpacked display type variables. I suspected that there lies the problem. I put an extra move there from signed to unsigned and from the to display mode. That solved the problem and thus I have just found in my 1st year as an IBM mainframe programmer a BUG in the Cobol compiler. The reason why the more experienced programmers could not find the bug was that they never expected a bug in an IBM compiler. For newbie like me there were no idols nor unfallable designers or any tabu to break. We all learned a lesson there.


...in my 1st year as an IBM mainframe programmer a BUG in the Cobol compiler...

This and the HP41 memories bring back a few to me. My exposure to COBOL programming was with Boeing payroll back in '87.

I can remember a couple times when I was convinced I'd found a problem with the IBM compiler (ah, the unsullied arrogance of youth) only to find it was an "undocumented feature".

I seem to recall that moving signed integer COMP-3 values, such as PIC S9(3) to PIC X(3) fields, was treated as an alphanumeric to alphanumeric move by the compiler. I think I ran afoul of this "bug" a few times myself.

Thanks for the memories!

Edited: 6 Jan 2009, 11:02 p.m.


Yeah, it was July 16th, 1979 when the 41C was introduced. Our Philadelphia-area PPC Chapter had been meeting quarterly since the previous Summer, but after our 7/31/79 meeting, we met monthly from that point. A local dealer brought boxes of calcs, card readers and printers and sold them out before the night was over. It indeed was a major step forward for personal programming. Apparently as the "main" Orange County, California PPC chapter had been meeting at their clubhouse monthly up till then, they ended up switching to weekly following the 41 introduction. The world really changed for the better overnight.

Jake Schwartz


Oh man, has it really been 30 years??

I clearly recall riding the bus from Lawrenceville to Princeton as a high school classmate described this revolutionary new calculator. I owned an HP 29C and had written several programs on it, but this new beast was just stunning. An alphanumeric display? You mean no more key code numbers to decipher? An LCD that could be read in daylight? HOW much memory did you say?!?! And the keys are user assignable?? Wait wait... you mean you can ADD a printer? and a card reader??! and more memory?!?!?!?! I was stunned. I don't know how long it took me to order one, but it wasn't long, despite the price (around $300 wasn't it?)

When I remember the day the calculator arrived. It was winter and it must have been Saturday or during winter break, because I clearly recall that I read the manual cover-to-cover in one day. It took about 12 hours.

I wrote several programs for the HP Users' Library and one was even featured in some sort of magazine that HP printed. Over the next year or two, I bought the card reader, printer, several memory modules and about 200 magnetic cards. Since each program accepted into the HP Users' Library allowed the author to order 5 other programs for free, I accumulated a binder full of programs which are now available on this site.

A little while after I got to college in 1981, I replaced my 41C with a 41CV. That calculator, with the card reader attached, sits in its soft case in my desk and was my primary calculator until about a year ago. The card reader failed at some point and so did the printer, but I think that both failures are easy to fix.

When my daughter had to get a TI-83 for school a couple of years ago, I decided to see what had happened in the world of HP calculators over the past 25-30 years. I bought an HP 50g and I've been playing with it ever since. It's a nice machine, but lacks the polish and usability of the 41 series. On the other hand, it took about a day to port my C++ sudoku solver to the 50g (running in C++ with the help of hpgcc) and it can instantly solve any sudoku puzzle. I don't want to think about how long the 41C would take.

Thanks for the memories!


The first time I ever laid eyes on a HP-41C was in 1979 in a Western Quebec French high school math class. The teacher's son, who was in our class, had one. What was so sad was that this kid had no idea how to use it beyond very basic functions and he had no interest in programming it...

While I contented myself with a TI-30 that my parents had given me for Christmas, and the never ending stack of 9V batteries that went a long with it, I always longed for an HP. After high school I would often browse the calculators on display in electronics stores in Ottawa while I prepared for university, but I could never afford the high price tags. When I studied Mechanical Engineering in university from 83-87, my TI-55 seemed so lame compared to the many HP-41's that my fellow students used. Then in third year a professor offered up a HP-15C for $100. I quickly jumped on the offer and read the manual in a day. It became my main calculator for many years and helped me immensely in my final years as a student. Over the past twenty years I have acquired some dozen or so HP calculator models, including a pristine HP-41C two years ago from a colleague at work. I then bought some modules from Matthias and an accessory or two on an online auction site. It is a great machine and I hope HP commemorates its anniversary with something special!



Hi, Jeff --

(A thanks for coming to the defense of Walter and me earlier in the thread...)

Your description of personal history pertaining to the HP-41 and other calc's sounds familiar...

TI-30 that my parents had given me for Christmas

Same here; in 1977, I think...

and the never ending stack of 9V batteries that went a long with it

Yes indeed, especially since the rechargeable pack very quickly lost its ability to take and retain a charge.

Eventually, yet another 9V disposable cell failed -- in electronics class, so I connected it to a DC power supply after measuring the voltage. I may have connected it backwards, because the display failed within seconds, and I never used it again.

The replacement was a Casio fx-3600P, which I used for the first two years of university. It had Simpson's Rule integration, which was useful.

After high school I would often browse the calculators on display in electronics stores in Ottawa while I prepared for university, but I could never afford the high price tags.

I made a few special visits to check out the HP-41 in 1980-81 (HS senior and college freshman), but just couldn't justify the considerable expenditure...

in third year a professor offered up a HP-15C for $100

I bought my HP-15C new for $109 in 1983 in the first quarter of junior year, and used it thereafter for the remainder of that degree program and two more in the 1990's...

The HP-15C is a much better pure calculator, if advanced programmability and expandability are unimportant to you:


Over the past twenty years I have acquired some dozen or so HP calculator models

I started collecting in 2002 and acquired about 20 HP models, plus a few duplicates, accessories, and non-HP models.

-- KS

Edited: 5 Jan 2009, 3:21 a.m.

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