HP45 Original Price


I purchased an HP45 just after they were released. I had to travel to an HP business office to do this. I picked up and paid for the calculator and wrote a check for something like $750.00!! Several weeks later, and out of the blue, I received a refund check from HP. They sent me the difference between what I paid and the $395 "final" retail price. I was quite surprised as I didn't have any idea that they were going to do this! I was a student of electrical engineering at the time. Money was precious but I absolutely needed the edge that the HP45 offered as I didn't know how to use a slide rule at all. Whew! That sure was a lot of money in the early 70's!


Well, I had to pay $395 for my HP35 in 1972, before they dropped the price to $295 in 1973.



I have never known of ANY engineering student before the mid-1970s who was NOT very comfortable with the slide rule. Anyone otherwise would have chosen the wrong profession.

I was an EE undergrad from 1970 to 1974. I was very interested in the HP product line beginning with the HP-35 in 1972, followed by the HP-45 in 1973. I never saw an HP-45 discounted, yet I never saw a price greater than $395 ($2000 in 2010!) for it. I never saw a price for any HP handheld (HP-35, 45, 80) that exceeded $395 until the HP-65 appeared at $800 in 1974.

My interest in HP at that time was academic...the HPs were an extraordinarily expensive way to do the calculations that could be performed by a $35 slide rule. That's all that any engineering student needed at that time, at least at Georgia Tech. Professors did NOT allow electronic calculators on tests, so slide rule expertise was mandatory, no matter how much money a very few students had to spend on unnecessary trinkets like an HP.

Edited: 8 Apr 2010, 12:33 a.m.


That's an interesting anecdote. When did GT change policy and allow electronics?


Kindly observe that my comment states that calculators (if that is what you mean by the ambiguous term "electronics") were NOT allowed on any *test* that I knew about at Georgia Tech, more than 35 years ago. Logically then, I can not answer your charcteristically dismissive question about when calculators became acceptable for tests at GT. I graduated before that era.

Are we clear?

Now, to other things. Here's some more price equivalents, then vs. now, with inflation data from US BLS Inflation Calculator:

As a student I could only afford, barely, a Bomar 901 four-function calculator ($130 in 1972, $675 in 2010). I bought the new TI scientific SR-50 ($150 in 1974, $660 in 2010) after I graduated and was working in the US Navy nuclear program.

I still have these units, working. Those were fun times, watching the competition between HP and TI. TI one-up'd the HP-35 in 1974 with the SR-50, the HP-45 in 1975 with the SR-51A, the HP-65 in 1975 with the SR-52, and the HP-55 in 1976 with the SR-56. The technology and capability of the HP-67 ($450 in 1977, $1610 in 2010) was very soundly trumped by the TI-59 ($300 in 1977, $1075 in 2010) in most respects except the extemely important one of reliability. For that reason alone, I ultimately selected the HP-67 and -97 for use in several military (submarine) applications, reserving the TI-59 for "hobby" use.


Are we clear?


I never saw an HP-45 discounted, yet I never saw a price greater than $395 ($2000 in 2010!) for it. I never saw a price for any HP handheld (HP-35, 45, 80) that exceeded $395 until the HP-65 appeared at $800 in 1974.

So you never traveled at that time. I remember a price of 1200 DM (well, 1199 DM ;) ) for an HP-45 in late 1973, when I first saw an ad sheet for it at my university. Looking at the prices of HP calcs today, that trade policy didn't change :(

I was not your traditional engineering student of the 70's. Sadly, I was clueless in high school and avoided any and all science and math. It was only later that I realized my calling. I entered the College of Engineering for a degree in electrical engineering without sufficient preparation and without any knowledge of the slide rule. I really, really had to scramble! I needed every advantage I could get and the HP45 was such an advantage!! I died when my batteries died. In large part I owe my success to my HP45 calculator - seriously! I still practice electrical engineering and have the title of Director of Research of which I'm very proud. I still use RPN HP calculators to this day. Regards!


Some time ago I found references about a "sub-compact" car (new, not used) costing around U$S 2000 in the USA around 1970 (i.e.: Ford Pinto). I would like to hear from you if that was true and, if is so possible to say that, at the time of it's introduction, an HP-65 costed about a third of the price of such a car.

BTW: My USA electronics magazines from 1974-1975 costed in the range of 0.50 or 0.75 U$S per issue; today prices for current, similar items are 10x those prices... (regretably, in my own country, inflation has been about 1E10 between 1970 and 1990).


... a "sub-compact" car (new, not used) costing around U$S 2000 in the USA around 1970...if is so possible to say that, at the time of it's introduction, an HP-65 costed about a third of the price of such a car.

Yes, this is quite accurate. I purchased a new California-emissions (higher cost) 1974 Opel Manta (Adam Opel AG) for $2800. Any way that one looks at it, HP calculators were very very expensive 35 years ago.

If one did not insist on a new car, it was possible to buy a reasonably servicable used car for the price of a new HP-45 (not 65) in 1973. I mentioned that possibility in a "Memories" post I made on this site in the late 1990s: HP-45 vs. Used Car.


Whilst we are making things clear, in your memory you say:

I am most attached to the HP42S, the best pre-RPL calculator ever made.

Which should read non-RPL, as the HP28C preceded it by more than a year.

The 28C was my first calculator, which I purchased in my second year of university for around ZAR1000, and comparing that to the annual cost of studies of ZAR3500 IIRC, it was a lot of money. I was driving in a used car purchased for ZAR600.

In 1968-69 I remember seeing billboards advertising the VW Beetle sedan for $1995.


Yep, bought my HP-45 at Penn State in 1973 for the going price of $395. Still had it until about 10 years ago.

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