Dead Calculator


Hi all

While preparing a few calculators from my collection to sell at auctions, I had a strange phenomenon this morning:

When I turned on an old HP 38C it first worked as usual, displaying all the numbers. Suddenly, the display started flickering and died. Upon removing the batteries I found they had started a very slight leaking, which I could clean immediately without any problem and no remaining stains.

I then placed new batteries in the calculator, but so far it did not work again. I know that the batteries work, since I tried them on another HP 38C which works perfectly.

Any ideas what exactly happens when batteries go dead? Is there an excess current that kills the electronics? Or is it just a matter of broken contacts?

My goal is of course to get the calculator to work again.

Thank you for any suggestions.

Best regards



The calculator will only draw so much current regardless of the state of the batteries. Excess voltage could kill it but that doens't happen when batteries leak. Almost certainly the issue is that you have corroded contacts that were just barely hanging together. The act of removing the batteries caused enough force to break the contact.



Hi Katie

Thank you for your answer.

I tried to polish the contacts, but to no avail. I guess the calculators are really dead, so I'll sell them as defective.

So I probably just need to be more careful with the rest of my calculators.

Best regards


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