HP - Quo vadis?



#2

Dear all,

have you seen the calculator which HP shows in its newsletter of December 2009 above the header "The HP-41 system – 30 years
old" Calculator Newsletter 16 (December 2009)?


It's only me, who has the impression, it's not the HP-41?

If a lack of consciousness for the past is indicative for a poor future, then we may not expect too much for the calculator branch of HP.



Regards

Frido


#3

It's a 35 for sure.

Enough has been said about HPs strategies in the calculator market. The targets are education and financial business (12C(P)). Engineering and science is obviously out of scope, and so the company doesn't really care about the 41 legacy.


#4

Quote:
The targets are education and financial business (12C(P)). Engineering and science is obviously out of scope (...)
I wonder why.

I am an electrical engineer and I 'act' as a teacher lately, mostly because in Brazil it is hard to do what I like most: R&D. I can point out many reasons for that, but the main ones relate to '$'! R&D demand 'risky' investments, but today´s management demands 'risky' to be measured. I was (re)viewing some specials related to NASA and the Moon, but a particular mentioning from one of the engineers working with the lunar module called my attention. They were asked to predict budget and scheduling for the modules, but, he says, budget and scheduling are 'best guesses' based on previous experiences. How can someone give a 'best guess' based on no previous experiences? Delays and unexpected expenses should be taken as lack of experience instead of lack of knowledge.

Now we are facing another 'reality': once developers do not prove it is profitable, forget it! No matter if it will benefit mankind, it must benefit sponsors bank accounts. And were are the engineers and scientists? I wrote developers, it does not mean they are engineers neither scientists. CAD/CAE/CAM and HDSL need only commands to produce mechanical parts and integrated circuits.

Guys, I am waiting for an answer, don´t have any! I am teaching, and my students are supposed to be system analysts, pedagogues, physicians ('Computer Science Applied to Medicine') and managers. No scientists, no engineers.

Who´s gonna turn ideas into reality in the near future?

Cheers.

Luiz (Brazil)


#5

Hi Luiz,

spoken out of my heart, as we say in german.

Quote:
Now we are facing another 'reality': once developers do not prove it is profitable, forget it!
And here I think about the 42s. What was the reason to cease production? Too few sales, I suppose. So, here it has been proven that such a machine doesn't sell.

In my career I worked together with a lot of engineers and scientists, about 100 I estimate. Two of them were working with a no-name calculator, one had a 15C, and I was using a 32SII. All others were doing fine w/o any calculator.

Sad but true, HP is right. To me, using a calculator means convenience and safety, but I'm used to check Excel results ;-). Others just generate numbers with computer programs, visualize them and thats it.


#6

Yes, there is a lot of belief in numbers a computer puts out today. To my experience, what is lacking is the ability to reason or to check results for plausibility, to perform coarse estimates etc. The need for even simplest mental arithmetic or order-of-magnitude estimation has decreased significantly, so this knowledge is decreasing, too. People tend to believe what Excel displays.


#7

I think the problem is not only the faith in the numbers produced by computers (GIGO* machines), but also that nubers are the be-all and end-all of problem solving.

Someone once said that if we cannot quantify something, we do not understand it. With computers it is so easy to quantify things, that there seems to be a misguided belief that we fully undertand it.


*GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out


#8

Quote:
Someone once said that if we cannot quantify something, we do not understand it.

"Someone" was Lord Kelvin in 1883.

HTH


#9

He was selling thermometers, right?

(joke)


#10

Almost d;-) AFAIK he was laying some grounds for selling more accurate thermometers. Maybe he wasn't even thinking of sales. So he would have been more grateful for a 43S than for a 30b.

HTH

#11

Quote:
In my career I worked together with a lot of engineers and scientists, about 100 I estimate. Two of them were working with a no-name calculator, one had a 15C, and I was using a 32SII. All others were doing fine w/o any calculator.

This is pretty much my experience also in my field of electronics design and associated software, mechanical and acoustics design I've worked in.

In my case it's a lot more than 100 engineers over the last 20 years, and I've always taken an interest in what calculator they have on their desk.

Very few HP's, and very few programmable or graphic calculators in general at all. 5% tops, and I'm being generous here. When I've asked them why they have a programmable or graphic calc, the answer is always the same - "I don't need one, it's just the one I used at school".

The other 95% either have nothing at all, a basic non-programmable scientific, or even a 4-Banger.

Same personally for me, I have no need for anything but a basic scientific.

This is why I've been saying that any scientific HP brings out should have significant retro appeal, it will be the only way to generate mass interest in such a machine.

Dave.

Edited: 1 Feb 2010, 5:08 p.m.

#12

Why was the HP-42S discontinued?

I was working at EduCALC as the New Product/Technical Support manager at the time. This was back in the days when HP actually had staff to "support" dealers - Oh, they are called resellers now.

We were very upset at EduCALC because the HP-42S was a best seller. The HP rep told us that EduCALC sold more HP-42s than all the other sellers combined. We knew how many we sold and based on doubling or tripling our sales numbers it was obvious that the volume of sales did not justify the continued manufacturer of the HP-42S.

Trivia question. What vital feature was omitted on the HP-42S?

The answer to this question could also explain why the HP-42S was not more successful.

X < > Y,

Richard


#13

Quote:
Trivia question. What vital feature was omitted on the HP-42S?

Admittance for certain exams I suppose.
#14

Quote:
Trivia question. What vital feature was omitted on the HP-42S?
HPIL. Not trivial.
#15

Quote:
Trivia question. What vital feature was omitted on the HP-42S?

Some form of input/output.

#16

How about date arithmetic and a real-time clock, which can be found on both the 17B and 27S?

#17

Quote:
Who´s gonna turn ideas into reality in the near future?

The Apple people, and other modernists like them.
#18

Quote:
... HPs strategies in the calculator market. The targets are education and financial business... Engineering and science is obviously out of scope...

Well, they certainly seem to be doing OK in financial business, but they have failed miserably to get into education... so why not go back to science and engineering in a big way?

But what do I know?


#19

Ok, at least I know very little about these matters. I just observe that nearly all calculator companies jumped on the educational train, leaving professionals behind. Probably with Casio an exception with one or two models. That leads to believe there's no longer money to earn.

Another observation: Past models could easily been brought back to market, like the 15C. It hasn't been done and I refuse to believe that HP didn't had even a single thought about that.


#20

Quote:
Another observation: Past models could easily been brought back to market, like the 15C. It hasn't been done and I refuse to believe that HP didn't had even a single thought about that.

They have thought about it, they even paid for an industry survey on what model people would like to see.

I still don't know why they haven't released the 15C, it's a complete no-brainer from almost any perspective.

Dave.

#21

They (HP) can't obviously distinguish an HP-35 with LED display from an HP-41 with LCD anymore, perhaps, because all of the know-how was transferred to China in the past and therefore has gone forever (together with the engineers).

In RPN tip #16 HP even redefines Euler's constant as 2.1. Since the article's author was using an HP-35S, my first thought was, he found another bug, wouldn't have wondered so. But my 35S did right. I suppose, he must have been using an updated ROM code, adding some new features to the 35S.

Maybe I should follow HP's invitation for the Educator outreach: "What would you like to see HP calculators do to improve? We can't wait to hear from you! Send an email to: Calceducation@hp.com"

OK, but unfortunately I don't speak Chinese ...

Regards,

Rainer

#22

I never quite understood what the difference between "education" and "science/engineering" is. I haven't changed my calculator needs when I changed from being a "student" to a "scientist."

Most students like gadgets and would be glad to buy a top-of-the-range calculator if it has the proper wow-factor. Think of Apple laptops: expensive but my students still get them. It's all marketing. If students knew that a HP15cII or a HP42sII is the Roll-Royce of calculators, they would probably get it. They just don't know (and, needless to point out, they don't exist as yet ....)


#23

Quote:
I never quite understood what the difference between "education" and "science/engineering" is. I haven't changed my calculator needs when I changed from being a "student" to a "scientist."
There's a varity of graphing cals on the market. Students apparently love it, I don't. They take too much space on the desk :-). At the same time, many of these calculators are not very powerfull, with the 50g an exception. And how about ergonomics? If I want to do a R<>P conversion, I have to remember where the angle or where y is left. Not that easy with a Casio. In general, this textbook entry thing is more of an obstacle to a professional.

Of course, I can only speak for myself.

#24

Speaking only for the USA, math classes up to the university level can have entire curricula based around specific calculators. It is not uncommon for students to be required to purchased a specific calculator model for their class.

In this sense, the calculator is less used as a tool than it is as a teaching instrument.

"Type this in and you will see a hyperbola." "Oooh ..."


#25

Many schools here are similar, actually all 3 highschools I went to used TI-83s as teaching aids. TI scientific calculators are the only recommended calculators making it easy to teach students how to use them. I have had a TI-83 since grade 10.

Dimitri


#26

My sister in law told me that her kids were even required to get a TI Voyage. I find this unacceptable for many reasons, but it fits perfectly into a series of doubtful changes in education in Germany.


#27

Quote:
My sister in law told me that her kids were even required to get a TI Voyage. I find this unacceptable for many reasons, but it fits perfectly into a series of doubtful changes in education in Germany.

Its odd, should allow highschool students only scientific so the can learn math not short cuts. I was in while scientific only for tests and graphing was ok in class, almost required actually the way it was taught. The schools did however buy enough that one TI-83 could be shared by 2 students in class however. Most of us bought our own as it made it easier. Now they "strongly" recommend the purchase.

Dimitri

#28

". . company doesn't really care about the 41 legacy." Business is about the future. From a classical business perspective the past doesn't mean much because the customer has paid for the product. It is the NEXT sale that is important.

If HP had zero interest in the "past" they wouldn't have approved the publication of the article. As the author of the article I mentioned that HP had published my enthusiastic opinion regarding the HP-41 in three major articles. My interest is that we concerned users should also try to understand the constraints that HP has. HP provides us with many valid complaints, but to dwell on a decision that you too would make if you had to live by the same rules (that they have to follow) isn't very constructive. We try to bridge this understanding with the annual conferences because we all want HP to continue to make the best possible machines.

Corporate memory is an important concern and this came up at HHC 2009. See: http://holyjoe.net/hhc2009/Corporate_Memory.pdf

I agree, however, that there is no excuse for not knowing the difference between and HP-35A and an HP-41.

X < > Y,

Richard


#29

Quote:
If HP had zero interest in the "past" they wouldn't have approved the publication of the article.
I haven't said that HP has no *interest*. The opposite is true, since the past is an element in their marketing. And still, they don't care. They just use it ;-).

Quote:
HP provides us with many valid complaints, but to dwell on a decision that you too would make if you had to live by the same rules (that they have to follow) isn't very constructive.
Well, I often said HP is right. They are out of business concerning scientific calcs, as they impressivly have shown with the 35s. It's a marketing toy. A give-away.
#30

Quote:
The targets are education and financial business (12C(P)). Engineering and science is obviously out of scope

What if your in education for Engineering?

I don't know, if the took the HP-35S that I use for college and added a flash chip and interface to build in the Software packs for the HP-41C I'd spend 250$ on it without blinking.

Dimitri


#31

Quote:
What if your in education for Engineering?
You mean, would I buy a calculator that cannot be used in the exams? Probably, but that's only me ;-).

#32

Quote:
You mean, would I buy a calculator that cannot be used in the exams? Probably, but that's only me ;-).

Well the HP-35S is allowed in the US (not so sure about other areas) for the the FE and PE exams, since they seem bent on exam security, I don't see why you couldn't talk them into a pre-programmed scientific based on the HP-35S if HP cared about getting the Engineering side of things back on track. Especially when there are services to pre-program your HP-35S for you.

Dimitri


#33

Quote:
Well the HP-35S is allowed in the US (not so sure about other areas) for the the FE and PE exams, since they seem bent on exam security
Yes, and so were the 33S and the 32S* calculators. Unfortunately, there haven't been any bufixes for the 35s, which would be the first thing one could expect. So, one 'crossover-machine' exists, but is not really usable by professionals.

#34

Now you got me wondering ... bugs?

Dimitri


#35

35s bug list


Edited: 5 Feb 2010, 2:38 a.m.

#36

Hi Dimitri,

it may be worthwile for you to search the forum archives for several topics. There is a lot of valuable information stored within.

HTH

Walter


#37

Thank you both for the replies and I will read up on it did not realize that HP had bugs. You'd have thought 50+ years of research and production would have made the bugs non-existent.

Dimitri


#38

There is a certain evolution within some series of models, e.g. 48S to 48G or 32S up to the last version of the 32SII, but generally it's difficult to have a new calculator based on old software. The CPU might have become unavailable or outdated, old IDEs are no longer available and so on. So, very often it is easier to rewrite a new firmware from scratch, thereby introducing new bugs.

Especially with C++ and Java, reusable code becomes an issue. Now, we're waiting for some good classes from HP ;-).

Oh, and don't forget that the mix of RPN and Alg has caused a new level of complexity!

Wow, I'm defending HP!

Edited: 5 Feb 2010, 1:10 p.m.


#39

Quote:
Oh, and don't forget that the mix of RPN and Alg has caused a new level of complexity!

Its my first RPN calculator, so no complexity problems for that as I made sure it was set on RPN on the Monday evening I bought it. Last semester (my first, 2nd time in college) and I used it for my Calculus Mid-term Wednesday morning that same week, as in our Monday morning class my Prof said no Graphing calculators. At the time I only had my TI-83 from high school. And it had to be a HP as I was told by a few "Never trust a engineer without a HP on his desk" while working as a machinist.

Dimitri

Edited: 6 Feb 2010, 10:46 p.m.


#40

Quote:
Quote:
Oh, and don't forget that the mix of RPN and Alg has caused a new level of complexity!
Its my first RPN calculator, so no complexity problems for that as I made sure it was set on RPN on the Monday evening I bought it.

Thomas was referring to the people who wrote the firmware of your calculator.

HTH

Walter

#41

this just adds insult to injury... what a shame.

Not only they waited until the END of the anniversary year, they also had to get their images mixed up.

What could I say... I used to work for that company when it really was what it was poised to be by its founders.

Sign of the times.

#42

To the right of the "HP41" is an invitation to join "The Calculator Club" - one of whose benefits is "HP Calculator Forum"!!

Do they run one of their own?!?! (I guess, technically, this is just the "HP Forum".)


#43

I tried to sign up for the newsletter and even received an ack from someone but I did not get this one.

They do have a forum in the business section of their sight.

#44

Dignus est intrare for the blessed ones who can still sort out these old calculator models :-)

Etienne

#45

Lasciate ogni speranza voi che entrate d:-/

#46

Quo vadis, HP?
Venio Romam iterum crucifige.


#47

Massimo,

I like your subtle humor.


#48

Thanks a lot Martin!
Just a little addendum...

Odi et amo [to HP]

Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

Alas, excrucior is the key!

Greetings,
Massimo

With apologies to Gaius Valerius Catullus


Edited: 2 Feb 2010, 10:16 a.m.


#49

Quote:
Odi et amo.

It seems this defines the relationship many on this "Forum" have with HP.
Quote:
Alas, excrucior is the key!

Indeed!
Quote:
With apologies to Gaius Valerius Catullus

Apologies? What better praise than to be quoted over 2000 years later!

#50

Classical scholars and pre-Vatican II Catholics have an advantage on this thread. :-)


#51

Quote:
Classical scholars and pre-Vatican II Catholics have an advantage on this thread. :-)

Or googlers... ;)

Available in Klingon, too...

Greetings,
Massimo


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