HP 42S sells for < $100 H**l freezes


I've been following TAS auctions for the HP 42S for a while, and seen the premium prices being paid, sometimes over $400, but lately it seems like the market has been getting soft for this model. Now, the unthinkable has happened. In a recent auction, a HP 42S sold for $89! Granted, it was lacking the manual, the soft case was for a HP 33s, it had a dent below the display and was a domestic (USA) only sale. Yet, it appeared to be in good working condition with no obvious wear and tear. So, has H**l finally frozen? Are other affordable out-of-production collectable models soon to follow? Stay tuned folks.

HP 42S Auction


Having watched these prices on and off since 1999, I'd say that up and down is the way it is....


My guess after 3 years of watching is that many have other priorities around summer and the Xmas holiday season (I know I do). Less competition may be driving down prices.


Hello Michael!

Just a few points:

1.  It never ceases to amaze me to see a 'USA' only sale.  I know
there are reasons for this; personal, export requirements,
shipping problems and etc. But if you want top dollar bid you
have to open up the bidding to the REST of the world.

2. The description was not the greatest:

"Workhorse, used, 15
years, small dent but does not affect the operation."

How about:

"Wow, works perfectly after all these years, no sticky or
noisy keys. One owner (me) and it was my main calculator!
Moving on to a graphing machine for work so no longer

Yeah, I know, sounds corny, but it does work!

3. Some artwork when it comes to photography?

4. one does not, a series make! When I see 5 in a row go,
working, for under 100 USd then I think the price is comming

The one pictured above went for 50 USd, granted it was not functional and the keyboard was a mess and the scratches and dents were very visible.

Just to see how strange the market is there is one listed with a "RESERVE NOT MET" and a leaky LCD panel. The bidding is at 100 USd at this moment. Now unless you have a spare panel kicking about, the ability to get in and swap it, it seems that the price is rather high and the reserve is not met yet.

Enough rambling, I chalk it up to Ebay and the collector mentallity!

Cheers, Geoff


Hi Geoff,

I agree with points 2,3 and 4 but not necessarily point number 1. I have seen many USA only sales fetch top dollar, and more often than not the winning bidder in a worldwide auction will reside in the USA. To wit, recently a seller had 18 concurrent auctions for Woodstocks and Spices, and in 12 out of 18 cases, the buyer was a USA resident, myself being one of them. Furtheremore, the 2 highest winning bids of $418 and $385 were made by USA residents. The highest winning bid by a non-USA resident (France) was $215.40. So I don't think it is necessary for a seller that makes a good presentation to get a good price in a domestic only sale.

BTW, none of the winning bidders in these auctions was Canadian (4 France, 1 Luxembourg, 1 Australia).



Edited: 20 Oct 2009, 11:33 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


Small market = lower chance for a good price.

Big market = higher chance.

These chances will materialize observing large samples.

The observation of a larger fraction of winning US-bidders, if exceeding the expectations based on head count significantly, would show the US-bidders being more wealthy in average than the rest of the population.

Fairly trivial, isn't it?

Edited: 20 Oct 2009, 1:41 a.m.


Hi Michael

Did you factor in the effect the non-winning non-US bidders had on pushing up the price?

Admittedly, I do not even bid on non-EU items as the shipping cost puts me off. Also I classify myself as a user, not a collector and have not paid over £100 for a used HP.



Hi Bart,

You do bring up an interesting point. As you may know, the winning bid in a TAS auction is actually the highest competing bid or next highest bid from the first loser plus an increment which is determined by the price range of the bid. The final winning bid price is either this amount of the actual highest bid, whichever is lower. The winner's actual bid is often much higher, especially if the winner places the bid within the last few seconds and does not have opportunity to rebid if it proves too low. So, I looked at the bid history of the 2 highest priced auctions, and found that in the case of the highest ($418), the first loser was a non-USA resident who bid $413, whereas in the next highest auction ($385), the first loser was a USA resident who bid $380. In the first case, the next lower bid was for a USA resident ($350). So, in the first case, participation by a non-USA resident increased the final price by $63, whereas in the second case participation by non-USA residents had no impact on the final winning price. So, I would agree that in balance, worldwide auctions will increase the odds of getting a higher price than domestic only auctions, but will not assure this with total certainty.

BTW, I had the same experience that you had in reverse. I won a Sinclair Scientific calculator in TAS UK auction, and had to pay over $20 in postage, only to have the idiot seller send it in a thin envelope and the calculator's foam box was severly damaged.



Edited: 21 Oct 2009, 10:12 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


Small samples statistics, but anyway ;)


Ah, good old statistics. Perhaps you should collect some data and post results here. Taking into account hitwords in the title and description (so we know how to flourish it up without being overwhelming :-) ), effect of too low or high starting/reserve price, photos (no. claririty etc.), etc. etc. etc.

Which in the end would give us "on average you can expect". Then when you put yours on, ten others appear. So you could still be the outlier that's lucky to get a high price or the poor chap that gets 1 low bid.


I would have to agree the prices have been coming down on the 42s. during the first two weeks of October, 11 sold on eB**. Of these, the one you mentioned $89 was the lowest of the functional ones, $269 was the highest, and most were around $200.

Until recently, $250-$400 was more the norm.


I catch myself using iPhone emulators more often than the real tings lately. In the HP-42S case - 42s beats the real calculator hands down in any every respect except the keyboard feel; the HP-48GX has hard competition too, namely m48 - with a bit of work it will be the winner. And all that in your pocket *all the time*. Unless HP comes with something really attractive like Walter's 43s I'm really over with spending any money on HP calc stuff.


I'm really over with spending any money on HP calc stuff

A 35s costs, maybe, $50 these days (yes, I'm aware that calc has some issues). You probably spend over twice that EACH MONTH for an iPhone. I will never understand the appeal of emulators. The beauty of HP calculators is the hardware itself, and no emulator can emulate that. And once you buy it, you've got it and you don't have to keep buying it each month.

I will never own an iPhone and I get extreme pleasure out of my REAL HP-65!


I will never understand the appeal of emulators. The beauty of HP calculators is the hardware itself, and no emulator can emulate that.

Don, that expresses exactly the way I feel.

I greatly admire FREE42, but nothing beats real hardware. There's something special about using my real HP-67 that I've owned for 32 years, or even my real SR-51A that I owned before that, and think about the places in the world that they travelled with me and helped me perform my job aboard a nuclear submarine a third of a century ago.

The magic of these old machines is intimately bound to their physical hardware. Anyone who finds an emulator as satisfying as the original physical machine is likely one who did NOT use the machine at the time that it was originally marketed. He didn't have to budget to buy what was then state-of-the-art hardware (my HP-67 and accessories cost me more than a month's take home pay as a junior officer!). Things like that attach a lot of sentiment (cash value = 0). I really don't know why folks too young to have used these machines in their professional life at the time the machines were current would find them compelling today.

(iphones and blackberrys and dingleberries...just say NO!)


Thanks, Mike. We'll probably hear from the guys who did own and use the original calcs from years ago, and they like the emulators now too. I don't know, everyone's different of course; you like what you like and there's nothing wrong with that.

My first computer was an Apple ][ and I thought that was revolutionary since it made it possible for a regular person to afford a programmable computer (as opposed to the multi-million dollar IBM and Univac mainframes we used in our regular jobs). Then came the Macintosh in 1984. I remember attending a meeting where Steve Wozniak demonstrated the Mac 128k in January, 1984. I heard the ooohs and ahhhhs when he opened MacWord (I think it was) and demonstrated how to get your font to go bold; just select the text with the mouse and choose bold from the menu, and there it is, bold on your screen, rather than put a ctrl+b in front of the text you want bold and another ctrl+b after it. That was WYSIWYG, and it was revolutionary in 1984. I went right from that meeting to my local Apple store and ordered my first (of several) Mac. Then, years later, I left Mac-dom and entered the PC world, largely due to the availability of software and more affordable prices of hardware.

I didn't own my 65 until about 2 or 3 years ago. I couldn't have afforded it in 1974, I was still in graduate school when it came out. But it was revolutionary too, in that it was the first programmable handheld calculator, I think. I enjoy it now because of its simple RPN implementation and the fact you can store your programs on magnetic cards, a feature many would love on some of the current line of HP calcs (like the 12c and 35s, for example).



That was WYSIWYG, and it was revolutionary in 1984

It sure isn't anymore!

I am teaching a couple of sections of Intro Digital Photography at the local University this fall. When I was explaining the benefits of a single-lens-reflex camera, I used the term WYSIWIG, and all I got from the audience of 20-ish students in both classes was a blank look.

I had to explain to this crowd of iphone / windows / facebook / etc. users what WYSIWIG meant! They caught on quickly, but since they were all born after your Mac demonstration, I guess they assumed the world had always been WYSIWIG!!


Interesting thread.

I am someone who had an interest in programmable calculators and as a school boy could only afford a Commodore PR100 and then that was a stretch at the time. Never knew much about HP calculators and still wouldn't had it not been for an Itouch and coming across the I41CX+.

Whilst it can't emulate the fell of the real thing ,although it is the case that the creator has tried to emulate the original in every way possible, the reality is that the I41CX+ can actually do better in other ways :

1. You can upload/download programs
2. You have access to almost every module that was created for the HP41 and at no cost
3. You can use knewly created modules and/or updates eg IceBox or SandMath modules
4. You can easliy print programs onto A4 paper (not a till receipt)
5. YOu can try synthetic or machine code programming without fear of permanently locking your machine or having to to soft reset it , thus having to re-input your programs by hand again
6. Its more portable (smaller)

If you were to replicate all of that with original modules etc. then the cost would be north of $1,000. Even using Diego's Clonix/NovRam system it is going to cost you around $300 to $400.

Plus of course you can have other emulators on your machine !

I do understand the pleasure and tactile feel of the real thing, especially if you owned the original when you were younger or still have it, but you shouldn't be so dismissive of the Itouch/Iphone emulators if you haven't tried them, as some of them ain't that bad and in many ways they are actually helping to maintain or even stimulate interest in the real thng !



You probably spend over twice that EACH MONTH for an iPhone

What do you mean? iPhone is a phone and what I spend on a phone has nothing to do with the emulators. I also have iPod Touch running the same software.
I got HP-35S sn CNA72102367 couple of weeks after its release.
You got me wrong, it's not about money at all; I can't carry calculators on me all the time like I do with the phone. Then I use the emulators to do some calcs and not to enjoy their beauty. The latter applies to women in my case ;)



I understand, Reth. I know emulators have their place and lots of folks use them productively. I just prefer the old original hardware because of it's "look and feel" and because I enjoy showing it to my students. It's sort of like looking at an old Corvair!



... so do I, Don, as a matter of fact I still keep my HP41CX on my desk, next to my HP48GX, HP50, HP35S, HP42S. I also have my first generation ipod touch (which unlike its successors has flat stainless steel back and fits perfectly just about everywhere) with headphones hooked in.
Every time I touch my HP41 though I remember what an incredible beast it was when I first came around. Nothing beats that.
Cheers, Reth


I know emulators have their place and lots of folks use them productively. I just prefer the old original hardware because of its "look and feel"

A good emulator on a smartphone with a big display on a keyless face would be handy, and might approach the usability of the real thing. I have Thomas Okken's Free42, but use it only for program tests that require substantial processing power and for program archival.

It's sort of like looking at an old Corvair!

Many readers might not get the reference about these iconic Amercian cars of the 1960's.

The redesign for 1965-69 was quite handsome:


http://www.corvaircorsa.com/corsa.html (scroll down for photo)

The original 1960-64 version was less so:


-- KS

Edited: 20 Oct 2009, 9:24 p.m.


re: the corv-8.
Personally, i'd have went with a 283 instead of the 350. my chevelle with the smaller V-8 was so smooth i could sit my beer on the air cleaner while i tuned it and it wouldn't even scoot around. and it would have flat moved a corvair.


It's sort of like looking at an old Corvair!

Sorry, looking at an old Corvair just makes me think of Ralph Nader.
And, that's definitely not a pleasant thought.


Ahh, Ralph Nader, he could have been a figure on an old Batman episode: the Spoiler!


Agree on the iPhone. But the iTouch is a good alternative.


Did you see the excellent condition 15c that sold recently on TAS for $40! It was a BIN and obviously listed by someone not doing any research. There can't be many of those. Someone got a hell-of-a-deal.


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