Government surplus HP-97


It seems my unit got to work on interesting stuff (read just below the bar-code)...


I bought two 97s from that seller some years ago. One had a Los Alamos sticker on it. Apparently the National Lab used 97s extensively.



Hi Howard,

What were their conditions (0 = not working, 10 = like new)?



One was a 5 - scarred a bit, working printer, gummy wheeled card reader. The other was a 4 - scarred a bit, jammed printer, gummy wheeled card reader. Both were otherwise functional and I repaired both. Neither was advertised as working in any way.



It's good that some of these government-owned units were dispositioned as surplus rather than as trash.

When I was an engineering department officer on a US nuclear submarine 35 years ago, I got the ship to purchase a SR-52 mag card calculator and PC-100 printer for rad-chem lab use. (The SR-52 was considerably more capable than the HP-65, particularly with the support of the PC-100 printer.)

Then the HP-67/97 appeared. I used my new personal HP-67 for other reactor plant calculations. After that turned out to be so useful, I got the ship to purchase an HP-97. I had tried using the much more "featured" TI-59 with PC-100C, but after going through three TI-59s and two PC-100Cs in less than a year, I concluded that the latest TI gear was too unreliable for military use.

I'd love to know how long these units survived in service, and what ultimately happened to them (the boat was decommissioned in 1994). I suspect they most likely wound up in the trash long before that, and long before anyone valued old calculators.

I wouldn't mind having that HP-97 today!

Edited: 24 July 2009, 4:33 p.m.


Mike; Which boats? I had my grimy little fingers in most everything that got fixed at Mare Island in the late 70's and early 80's. It was good work if one could forget the ultimate purpose of the boomers. The only drawback was that working for Rickover's Navy as a youth pretty much ruined me for jobs anywhere in private enterprise. Aiming for perfection is not a habit most middle managers want their subordinates to have.



I attended nuclear power school at Mare Island in 1974. I spent four years on the USS Daniel Boone (built at Mare Island, but operating from Scotland). Ballistic missile boats were top defense department priority during the cold war...they did not lack any funding for design, engineering, construction, operation, and upkeep. These boats and their missile/warhead systems are magnificent examples of applied science and engineering. IMHO, the integrated SLBM system easily required technological development efforts exceeding that expended for the manned lunar landing program. I'm fonder of that lunar program!

Rickover was a very mixed blessing. He was forced out (under Reagan!) in 1982 after 60 years of active duty. I think he should have [been] retired 20 years earlier. He groomed his officers to be more like engineers and technicians than like naval combat leaders. For a navy, that's generally a bad idea.


Be thankful they were groomed as engineers or else the floor of the ocean might be littered with rotting nuclear cores.


So we probably never crossed paths. I started at the Island in '76 after a couple of years repairing surface craft. I got to work on the 598, 599, 601, 621, the Sea Wolf, the "Triple Nickle" (that was a cool boat), the ice breaker Point Loma and a couple of others i can't remember. Good times working for and with good people who showed up at the job expecting to do the best quality work that was humanly possible. Doing less on a sub was unthinkable. I got into surveying (and RPN) by doing optical tooling for the nav, then moved to Nevada which as you can guess killed any chance of working at another shipyard while i was there.
I know what you mean about the difference between engineers / technicians and naval combat leaders. While i can't name any politician that i have more respect for than Jimmy Carter; he does have the "engineers disease". It's cool that you got to be there when you were, to invent a place for our favorite machines in those regrettable necessities.
I agree with you about the lunar program. I believe that was the greatest thing the human race ever did, and it was done in our time, and our countrymen did it. Still, now, i think our money today will be better spent on the space station and better ascent vehicles to get into low earth orbit. We have to learn to live in space where help is near before we go sailing off into blue water.


What is that ribbon cable used for?


I have no idea. I just disassembled it and the cable disappears between the the top cover and the plastic board inside the calculator. This would have required further disassembly and I was not in the mood to do that right now.

The guy who sold it advertised it as B-. After some cleaning, I would classify it as a strong B+ on appearance alone. I can't power it up right now so next step is acquiring some means of powering it up.

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