Pure Horror


This afternoon we had a meeting at our business. A colleague saw my HP41 in my shirt pocket and asked me whether mine still worked. I said yes. He then told me that his one no longer worked and that he threw it away 2 weeks ago ...

... together with some installed modules (time, x-functions, ... ), card reader, ...



I know it can be called a compulsion... my desire to continue to collect and restore. I just restored a lowly SR-11. I prefer to call it, "saving it from the trashbin of history." I will continue to strive to save HP's and others from the "trashbin of history..."


What's interesting is what you might call the "delta" of valuation. The inefficient market. Or whatever. The idea that two people who are quite closely associated end up with completely different gut senses about value. This happens all the time not just in calculators. It is the whole world of antiques that is like that at emergence.

I was originally more like your colleague: I figured I'd pick up an old one on ebay for cheap....boy was that an education!



That's exactly how it started for me a few years back! I needed a simple desk calculator and remembered how much I had fawned over the 41C. I figured that it would be cheap and kinda cool to pick up that old calculator to have on my desk, in case I can find one that still works.

Today, irrecoverably infected with the HP virus, I know that this was by far my most expensive 'pick up something cheap' idea I ever had...




I know that this was by far my most expensive 'pick up something cheap' idea I ever had ...

... but it was worth every penny, it was (and still is) a lot of fun, and there are many other fools like me ;-)


I was almost like that. A few years ago I decided for fun to check the value of my HP 41CV and accessories on ebay. I was shocked. Today a bunch of accessories are in a drawer in the basement with a little note that says "these are actually valuable" in case I get hit by a bus.

The virus is spreading within me. I'm actively programming my 50g, 48gii's, and 39gs. At a flea market this weekend, I found myself looking for calculators. I found a TI 81 and took a long hard look at it before moving on.


Good thing I started almost 20 years ago looking for calculators - it's pointless to visit a flea market now, too often not even a single one is to be found. 10 years back, I often returned home with several bags full of calculators - talk about dead technology 8)

(But then there are rare times, when some really cool stuff shows up. E.g. one guy had a prototype PCB for a calculator developed by VALVO, as well as box full of NORBITs, even prototypes. NORBIT Info )


My dad's first car (in the 50's) was a Model A Ford convertible. He was glad to get rid of it because the cloth top leaked and there was something loose in a headlight that made it go off and on. What he wouldn't give for that car today! Having said that though, I must add that my 41cx's value to me is still in its usefulness, not its important place in computing history.


Pls add me for one in the 41 freakies list... ;-)


Why did you tell us that?


WHY?????? (sob)

Some people do not care for other people´s feelings...



Edited: 14 Apr 2010, 12:50 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


:-) :-)



Now you've got me thinking about how I loaned by 29C to a girlfriend in 1986. I never saw it again.


You will never guess what happened yesterday.

I was at the dump and found an HP 41C with a time module and ....

Okay, just kidding.

But I did find an HP 25 sitting in a trash can at the operations office for the airline I worked for 15 years ago. I was picking up a flight plan for a trip from Winnipeg to Chicago when I threw out a piece of paper I needed. When I went to retrieve the paper from the waste paper basket there was a non functional HP 25 staring at me.

It was the first HP I ever restored, bad battery connector terminal due to corrosion. The calculator works perfectly still.

My gain, someones loss.

Cheers, Geoff


Lucky you! Another example of an event with *very* low probability though ... sigh ...


The same thing happened to my HP41CX in 1999. I used to take it to work. One day I spilled coffee on it and it stopped working, It had several modules. I tossed the whole thing in the trash can, not knowing about eBay and vintage calculator sales and repaitr on the Internet!


Edited: 14 Apr 2010, 10:42 a.m.


I will NEVER be able to look at you in the same way again Namir!!!!

Just kidding ;-)




This happened a year before I signed up with eBay and discovered that the vintage HP machine market is alive and well!! I do believe that my HP41-CX calculator could have been repaired and the plug-in modules to be working.

I kick myself whenever I think about that incident.

BTW .. I met with Dave Shaffer here in Flagstaff (where I am spending some time with my son). We met at the Lowell Observatory where he was working on a telescope setup. We had the chance to hear from another staff member about SOFI -- the special telescope project that is flown in a custom Boeing 747. The telescope is flown high enough to avoid atmospheric interference. We told the staff member that we belong to a calculator online community, which also includes an Air Canada pilot who is very much into using and restoring vintage HP calculators. I thought you might be a good candidate to fly the SOFI telescope.



Edited: 14 Apr 2010, 11:36 a.m.


Now that would be fun, Science and flying, don't get that around here!

You sure are a world traveller, will you make HCC2010?

Of course it is 25 years for the HP 71B, don't know what the theme is but it would be a good follow up from the 41C in 2009.

Cheers, Geoff


Namir is close: the mission he is referring to is SOFIA (stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). See here for details.

Geoff may appreciate what else we learned: the telescope in SOFIA (which I think is around 2 meters in size) weighs so much, and is aft of the center of gravity, that they have to put ballast in the FRONT (nose) of the 747SP to keep it balanced. (Weight and balance are critical elements of flight planning!)



SOFIA it is .. I stand corrected. I should have remembered correctly, since it was my grandmother's name.



The 1999 solar eclipse was nicknamed "Sofi" here in Germany, short for "Sonnenfinsternis". At least this is slightly more connected to astronomy than Namir's grandma. ;)


My dog is named Sophie.


Maybe you can make her the mission mascot!! (Post us a picture - we are going dog "shopping" this weekend at the local shelter for companion animal #2 and lifetime #6 overall.)

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