Woodstocks - the new gold standard?



#2

It seems like Woodstocks are becoming the hardest vintage pocket HPs to find in good and complete condition, especially the continuous memory models. Here's a case in point:

HP-29C

Edited: 11 Feb 2010, 6:13 p.m.


#3

Hello,

The same seller showed few months ago a 'customed' HP-67 for use in flight about the same price, or perhaps more - without any success, like this HP-29c for sure.

It is just a market observer who has noticed that hp-65, 67 and 29c are the best sellers of the brand HP.

But for me, it is the most beautiful box HP ever realized...


#4

I will have to say-- It took me about 8 years and 3 HP-29C's to finally get a working one. Total cost $400-600 (I don't remember each price anymore). Two had irreparable circuit damage and one had a bad case and keyboard but a functioning circuit.

Just in my opinion, for that rare a model in functioning condition AND in a box, $600 or even $800 might not seem that out of line these days. $1000 is, I agree, on the high end, but maybe not that terribly out of line if someone is that serious about finding a working one in a box.

I see that HP-10's have sold for around the $500 range without even knowing if they work, and a working 25C just went for $400 and an HP-27 for around $1000. The new-in-box 41CX's go for about $1000.

I can't even imagine what an HP-70 would go for these days... though I wish I had one. Some day. Yes, maybe the new "gold standard" after all. Wonder if it'll last.... (see my thread about calculator values).


#5

I just got an HP-70 - paid $360.... A lot, but I think an investment (if I sell it before we all die off!)

#6

I am a fan of Pioneers - use them every day. But if I did get a classic LED HP, the 29c is the one I would like to have.

Alas, at these eB** prices I will just have to get lucky at a thrift store...


#7

I have a near perfect HP-29C in my collection and it's one of my favorites. IMO the Woodstocks were the best design of the LED pocket calcs; best pocketability, best as hand held, easiest to swap battery packs in the field. They retained the ruggedness of their classic predecessors withough the excess bulk, and their introduction of continuous memory allowed for long battery time. Unfortunately, their stupid charging system has resulted in very few remaining in working condition, which is why IMO prices have risen so dramatically. Most Classics on TAS are in working condition, whereas most Woodstocks are not.


#8

Hello!

Quote:
IMO the Woodstocks were the best design of the LED pocket calcs

Absolutely! The problem is, that they will stop working eventually even if you charge them correctly. Like my HP25 did overnight. That's why I will never pay "moon prices" for any of them, it's only a matter of time when the last of them will die. Unfortunately, they are not built to last. It a bit like proton decay - only faster.

Greetings, Max


#9

I've GOT to find my manuals for my 25c - they're around here somewhere...

I'm planning on getting rid of it, 'cause I just can't see those red LLLLEEEEEDDDDD's anymore!

#10

I agree also. The woodstocks had a wonderful form-factor because you could hold and operate it in one hand.

Does anyone know of any current manufacturers who make something similar? By that I mean a scientific programmable that can be held and operated in one hand?

#11

Quote:
IMO the Woodstocks were the best design of the LED pocket calcs; best pocketability, best as hand held, easiest to swap battery packs in the field. They retained the ruggedness of their classic predecessors without the excess bulk, and their introduction of continuous memory allowed for long battery time.

May I add to that the color scheme? Is it just me, or do others find the two-tone scheme to have more curb appeal than earlier and later all-black models?
#12

Michael--their stupid charging system and the fact that, when the batteries do leak or outgas, they have a direct route to destroying the circuits. I've seen extensive battery leakage in the classics not destroy the circuits as much due to the separate battery compartment. Corrosion still claims its share of Woodstocks. And Spices. And, unfortunately, Stings as well.


#13

As my first calculator was an HP-25 which I still have and really enjoyed, I agree with all the above postings. As mine no longer works - and not just because the battery pack is long since dead and I don't have the wall-wart charger - I'm curious about the charging system induced failures mentioned. Are they something that can be repaired? If not perhaps I should consider creating a replacment processor board - all the physical convenience of the '25 but with modern speed, constant memory, increased programming, etc.


#14

Am new board with NonPareil technology: That sounds nice! :)

#15

Quote:
As my first calculator was an HP-25 which I still have and really enjoyed, I agree with all the above postings. As mine no longer works - and not just because the battery pack is long since dead and I don't have the wall-wart charger - I'm curious about the charging system induced failures mentioned. Are they something that can be repaired? If not perhaps I should consider creating a replacment processor board - all the physical convenience of the '25 but with modern speed, constant memory, increased programming, etc.


Hi Jim!
Eric Smith and Rich Ottosen created the next best thing with the DIY-RPN machine. It has 21, 22, 25C, 27, 29C, 32E, 33C, and 37E emulations built in, with matching keyboard "overlays." Mine measures about 5 1/4" x 2 3/4" x 3/4" and weighs 4.1 oz. including the two coin cell batteries. It screams "geek" :-)

Brian

#16

I also like the Woodstock form factor. It's far better than, say, the terribly awkward landscape format of the Voyagers.

My idea of the closest thing to perfection in a LED calculator would be an HP-34C in Woodstock format, which would not have been too difficult to package. Both the HP-29C and the HP-34C have the same number of keys, switches, and display digits. I consider the Woodstock's combined battery/compartment door design to be the best that HP ever used. In this "ideal" machine, the designers used a little basic common sense to implement a decent charging system that won't destroy the machine, along with a competently designed battery compartment that can't admit chemical contamination from the battery into the calculator insides.

That would be perfection in an LED calculator!!

I consider the HP-34C, as a calculator, to be a great step forward from the HP-29C. I like the HP-34C even better than the HP-67 that I've had for 33 years. But its very flimsy mechanical design, including the battery compartment, was a great step backward from the Woodstocks.

HP has a long tradition of unsatisfactory design practices, unfortunately.


#17

Quote:
HP has a long tradition of unsatisfactory design practices, unfortunately.

Really? I'd say you're applying 20-20 hindsight and ignoring the fact that most of the design work was cutting edge.

IMO, with the notable exception of the spice mechanical design, when their practices are viewed in proper context, that is at the time they where done and the market which they targeted, they did a really great job overall.

My challenge to anyone who believes otherwise: Name another company that produced calculators in the seventies and eighties that have had the longevity of HP's. Just think about the number of them still in use today...


#18

Perhaps. My first Woodstock was a HP-21 that I purchased in 1976.

So...there's not too much hindsight in my statements, then. My statements aren't those of a person who was NOT a contemporary HP user 34 years ago. I did NOT know how criminally stupid HP's design of the charging system was. That design incompetency was even reflected in the HP-67 that I purchased in 1977.

I deserved better. HP knew better. They failed their customers.

But, I will admit that overall HP did a better job than TI did with respect to reliability, a third if a century ago.

#19

Quote:
IMO, with the notable exception of the spice mechanical design, when their practices are viewed in proper context, that is at the time they where done and the market which they targeted, they did a really great job overall.

I am not sure what "a really great job overall" means. I am waiting for someone to explain how a firm which did superb design in many areas could have been totally inept in power supply design. Could it have been that power supply design wasn't considered to be very difficult and got short-changed during development?
Quote:
My challenge to anyone who believes otherwise: Name another company that produced calculators in the seventies and eighties that have had the longevity of HP's. Just think about the number of them still in use today...

The Sharp's go on forever.

#20

Hello!

Quote:
The Sharp's go on forever.

Not all of them. I have several Tamaya NC2 and NC77 astro navigation calculators that were made by Sharp in the 70ies based on "normal" scientific calculators like the EL-8018. Some do not work at all, and the two of them that do work show the same display problems: all digits dimly lit all the time.

From my calculators from the 70ies only those made by Aristo (Dennert&Pape) still work with no exception. But they were the second most expensive to HP then.

Regards, max


#21

"criminally stupid"

"totally inept"

Such harsh condemnation...

In context: HP's experience with rechargeable AA's in the classics lead them to what they did with the Woodstocks. They didn't leak and they didn't have charging problems. At the time, HP's calculator line was under tremendous attack from the other manufacturers and the Woodstocks were HP first product ever to be targeted at the open, retail market. Cost cutting had to be done. The form factor had been established.

An open challenge to all: redesign the charging circuit of a Woodstock without resorting to external devices and achieved with components available in 1975. Don't just say you could do thus and so, really do it. Then show us how it fits into the case.


#22

HP was fully conscious of the severe damage that could occur when a Woodstock or an HP-67 was operated on AC charger without a good battery pack in place. It's stated in the warning found in the user manuals.

HP designed very expensive hardware. The HP-67 cost the 2009 equivalent of $1600, and even the "cheapest" HP-21 cost the 2009 equivalent of $290. This deliberate design defect could have been eliminated with charging system changes that likely would have added only a couple of 1977 dollars per unit. That HP did not resolve a fault that would destroy high-dollar hardware for a highly probable simple user error indicates to me that the day of very significant *deliberate* HP quality short-cuts goes back at least to 1977. In contrast, today's HP50g is an amazingly competent and trouble-free machine for the price, one that is very hard to inadvertently and innocently destroy in normal usage.

As an old long-time HP calculator user, I can't help but smile at the frequent lament of many for those (fictional) old glory days of HP calculator quality. Most of these people who buy into that mythology weren't even alive back in the days that they claim were HP's quality zenith.

Edited: 14 Feb 2010, 12:58 p.m.


#23

Quote:
HP was fully conscious of the severe damage...

Really? Where you working there at the time? Part of the design team that made the decisions?

67 fry without a batteries in place? Is that something you know to be true or just something you read on the Internet? Care to explain what parts fail in the 67 when used with just the charger?


#24

I found this prior post in which you specifically stated that it was unsafe to operate the HP-67 from the AC adapter/charger without a battery in place:


Quote:
Classic safety clairification
Message #13 Posted by Randy on 7 Nov 2009, 1:26 p.m.,
in response to message #8 by Michael de Estrada

It is *NOT* safe to operate a 65 or 67 from the AC adapter without a good battery in place. The battery is the only load on the constant current supply such that without the battery, you have 16 volts open circuit exactly as mentioned. But, there is a danger to the card reader sense amplifier/motor controller - as it is connected directly to the battery terminal and therefore sees that 16 volt source when there is no battery in place.

The original IC, 1826-0158 was used in the 65 and was susceptible to over-voltage damage. The part was redesigned as the 1826-0322 which appeared in the 67,97 and 41 readers. While it was supposedly better able to withstand the over-voltage stress, I wouldn't tempt fate.

Thanks to Tony Duell for explaining this quite clearly several years ago as it isn't obvious without seeing the schematics.




Edited: 14 Feb 2010, 4:50 p.m.


#25

I'm aware of what I've written about the 67. What I was hoping for was Mr. Morrow to respond with his seemingly extensive knowledge of what happens to a 67 since he thinks HP was "fully conscious of the severe damage" that occurred.

IMO, one part that had been redesigned to prevent damage - does not warrant the vitriol in this thread. Pick on the Woodstocks all you like but my power supply redesign challenge still stands...


#26

Well, just pointing out that you accused him of getting his information from the internet, and the internet was you. Surely, you can provide all of us with the benefit of your extensive knowledge without resorting to attacks on the rest of us ordinary mortals.


#27

Attacking? Seems to me the other guys are the ones throwing the rocks.
I presented a challenge, I'll be waiting for a serious answer to same.

I didn't accuse him of anything, I asked a question. Grow some thicker skin.


#28

Quote:
Grow some thicker skin.

OK, tough guy.

#29

From my point of view, you're the one doing the attacking - anyone who dares criticize HP design.

You seem to be quite sensitive about any criticism on HP quality - talk about needing thicker skin. "People in glass houses..." comes to mind.

I'd be happy to accept your challenge - if I had a Woodstock that I'd want to bother protecting.


#30

How dare you challenge the pronouncements or authority of the Grand Ayatollah! He is the sole keeper of the Truth, and the rest of us are foolish heretics. There is only one true deity, and that deity is pure and perfect and NEVER makes mistakes. To say otherwise is certain condemnation to eternal misery.

Edited: 15 Feb 2010, 10:51 a.m.

#31

No, but I did spend $450 in 1977 for an HP-67. And I read the manual then, and later.

Apparently you are unaware of the following statement on page 312:

"CAUTION
Operating the HP-67 from the ac line with the battery pack
removed may result in damage to your calculator."

Or, do you think HP was just making a baseless warning?

Or, do you think a HP-67 whose card reader no longer works after AC charger use without battery in place does not constitute real damage?

None of this comes from your bugaboo "internet" that you ranted about "internet style." So just what the hell is your point??? Whatever it is, HP in 1976 disagrees with you. I guess you know better than HP. You've just lost a lot of credibility.


#32

If you're foolish enough to spend $450 on a calculator an then not follow the instructions in the manual, that pretty much covers the credibility issue, doesn't it?

You made my point better than I ever could have, thank you.

#33

Quote:
Apparently you are unaware of the following statement on page 312:

"CAUTION
Operating the HP-67 from the ac line with the battery pack
removed may result in damage to your calculator."


If that were the only mention of the problem in the handbook I would contend that it was an inadequate warning. Who reads the Service and Maintenance section until he has a problem? However, on page 27 the end of the first paragraph in Section 1 Getting Started states:
Quote:
... Whether you operate from battery power or from power supplied by the charger, the battery pack must always be in the calculator.

where the italics are in the manual. I'm not sure there really an option to use battery power which is not from the battery pack. Are we discussing a user who might try to apply external battery power through the charger connector?

A very similar warning appears on page 11 of the HP-27 Owner's Handbook and on page 9 of the HP-22 Owner's Handbook.

Earlier, Randy wrote

Quote:
An open challenge to all: redesign the charging circuit of a Woodstock without resorting to external devices and achieved with components available in 1975. Don't just say you could do thus and so, really do it. Then show us how it fits into the case.

I would suggest that if the designers couldn't fit reasonable power supply circuitry into some predetermined case size (somebody's dress shirt pocket maybe) then they should have considered making the machine somewhat larger. Would a quarter of an inch have been enough?


#34

This is a classic illustration of The Real Murphy's Law ("If there are two or more ways to do something and one of those results in a catastrophe, then someone will do it that way."), not the bastardized version you so often see quoted in the popular media ("If anything can go wrong, it will.")

#35

The battery compartment would be easy... have it completely enclosed and thus "external" to the calculator, thread the two contacts in as nuts and bolts extending on either side, then connect the circuit board to the internally projecting contacts with leaf springs. Easy. It would remain functionally the same, but immune to leakage and outgassing. (Except the two easily replaceable posts.)

The charging circuit I will leave to others here who are far more qualified.


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