hp-15c: From my museum to yours..



#2

I'm trying to puzzle what someone actually does with
a near pristine calculator which has obviously been
sitting in a desk drawer for the past 30 years. Well,
other than put in their own desk drawer for the next 30.

Not that I can't appreciate the rarity here of a
specimen which appears never to have been touched by a
human. But I'd be more than a little nervous about
actually *using it* as a calculator lest I unwittingly
inflict the first $100 nick.

I witnessed this auction gone wild about a week ago:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Hewlett-Packard-HP-15C-Scientific-Calculator-/200526940627?pt=Calculators&hash=item2eb05649d3

And earlier today a near repeat of the above lunacy:

http://cgi.ebay.com/EARLY-HEWLETT-PACKARD-HP-15C-HP-15C-CALCULATOR-/300479956436?pt=Calculators&hash=item45f60045d4

I thought I was certifiably nuts to have paid ~$100 for
what amounts to a $20~$30 manufacturing BoM cost comprising
my 15cs. I guess when I'm ready to retire I can sell them
along with my museum quality 16c, complete with original
cardboard box and nerd-gotta-have-it antistatic pink foam
sleeve.


#3

That's why I like emulators .... sure no physical contact with the actual buttons ... but think of all the advantages:

1. No worry about battery.
2. All keys work ok ALL the time!
3. No LCD problems.
5. Emulator always looks pristine!
4. Some emulators allow you to save and load programs. Yeah for that!!! Try that with a real15C.
5. Travels with you without adding weight or suffering transportation damage.
6. Usage does not decrease value!
7. Other advantages that have escaped me!
:-)

Namir

Edited: 17 Oct 2010, 8:31 a.m.


#4

looks like the insanity of days gone by have returned - 12 or so years back i remember selling a near-pristine hp-15c along with both manuals (also near perfect) and it's box on ebay for close to us$500.

should i be taking better care of the hp-16c i have sitting here? again, close to perfect apart from an only-just perceivable shallow ding in the aluminium above the display (only visible in the right light). is one of the 'cheap' ones with repainted 15c keys. cost my nz$20 on trademe, a local internet auction site.

btw, does anyone have a good solution for a missing 11c badge? got that calculator a few years back for nz$30, a little scruffy and sans that rather vital id mark - the seller didn't know it was an hp, he thought it was broke!


cheers,
rob :-)


#5

Quote:
btw, does anyone have a good solution for a missing 11c badge?

I instigated this discussion relative to a logo-less 15c:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/archv019.cgi?read=172067#172067

Since then I've managed to acquire another logo-less 15c so
I really need to do something. That something is likely
going to be laminating a thin sheet of tempered aluminum
to a black ABS base and engraving out the logo relief. The
smallest detail of an original logo requires about a 0.2mm
cut width at a depth of about the same 0.2mm. I found some
CNC bits on EEEbay with a 0.1mm tip and a 20* taper which
will do the job.

That will likely outlast the rest of the calculator. The
only thing throttling the effort is not having yet
produced the numeric artwork. I just wish I could fix this
"free time" deficit problem.

Quote:
got that calculator a few years back for nz$30, a little scruffy and sans that rather vital id mark - the seller didn't know it was an hp, he thought it was broke!

That's right, its obviously is broken. Can't even get the
4-banger numeric operations to work the same as every other
calculator on the planet. I hope more sellers like this emerge.

#6

PM me, I have been casting them in silver. If you have a spare 15c badge that you would be willing to loan, I would start on these, too.

#7

Quote:
looks like the insanity of days gone by have returned - 12 or so years back i remember selling a near-pristine hp-15c along with both manuals (also near perfect) and it's box on ebay for close to us$500.

To be fair, some are downright entertaining. This unraveled
late last week. Looked ok at first but then scanning
through the pictures I noticed all the case screws were
missing. And then the case back comes off:

http://cgi.ebay.com/HP15C-USED-1-OWNER-REAL-VINTAGE-/260675292289?pt=Calculators&hash=item3cb1754c81

I'd have to admit the diatribe explanation on the auction
page was interesting. I asked the whereabouts of the ESD
bonding springs and didn't get an answer that at least I understood. Somewhere around getting a shipping quote in
excess of US$70 I sort of lost interest..

Edited: 19 Oct 2010, 3:52 a.m.

#8

Quote:
That's why I like emulators .... sure no physical contact with the actual buttons ... but think of all the advantages:

Playing the devil's advocate here..

Quote:
1. No worry about battery.

There are few computation devices which have a battery
life surpassing an original voyager.

Quote:
2. All keys work ok ALL the time!

The original 9mm voyager tact dome switches have an
estimated 5M cycle life. For an emulator a touch screen
may or may not exceed this for service life cycle expectation
of a single physical location but it is also shared usage.
More importantly the dedicated physical tact switch
matrix is a fundamental UI attraction of a voyager.

Quote:
3. No LCD problems.

You wont find a better proposition on the LCD contrast
vs. power consumption scale that a reflective monochrome display
(particularly the earlier voyagers which have a lower
voltage multiplex ratio). It is also about as simple as
possible in terms of physical construction.

Quote:
5. Emulator always looks pristine!

Pristine simulation?

Quote:
4. Some emulators allow you to save and load programs. Yeah for that!!! Try that with a real15C.

You got me there.

Quote:
5. Travels with you without adding weight or suffering transportation damage.
6. Usage does not decrease value!

The emulation host can suffer physical damage and once
the host is toast, the value of the emulator goes to
zero unless you're planning on purchase of another host.

Don't get me wrong, I think code emulators are fine
tools. But they aren't the equivalent user experience
of a physical voyager which is exactly what fosters the
price insanity witnessed above.

Ironically I doubt we'll ever see HP introduce encore
voyagers in a maneuver analogous to the 35s. Also limited availability of the original voyagers is what props up their
prices to lunacy. Unsure how much of a commercial success the 35s
turned out to be but as a user I wasn't really impressed
with that execution.

#9

To me the only value of an emulator is to debug programs before entering them in. A hand-held is a hand-held. A computer is a computer. I sit at my desk with a set of drawings rolled out and my calculator on top of the drawing or nearby. There is also a scale or two nearby, and a pencil and a red pen. Sometimes (gasp!) even a compass.

And I can't imagine buying a calculator to sit in a case, untouched.

But that's just me. To each his own.

P.S. Yes, of course I use the computer. A lot more than the calculators. But for different functions.


Edited: 17 Oct 2010, 9:20 p.m.

#10

sweet jesus. 777 is the highest I've seen. I've seen some in 600's this summer. and for a unit without a box/manuals, at that.

Last week I was trying to buy a non-functional 15C for parts. It went for > $200, and it was clearly labeled in the title as non-functional.

It does seem to wax and wane, though. Also this summer I missed the opportunity to get a 15C for < $100. It was beat to hell but did work.

'measuring worth' seems to think that $135 in 1981 dollars is equivalent to $319 in 2010 dollars. So that's only about 2.6% annual appreciation over the past 29 years. Frankly I'm just happy that folks still love them, and that they are obtainable.


Edited: 17 Oct 2010, 11:00 a.m.


#11

I was able to buy a working 15C a few months ago for $40 USD. It was pretty beat up and had a scratched up back label. I printed a new label from plastic paper on my laser printer and added 4 new rubber feet and it's perfect as a travel machine!

#12

It all comes down to how badly someone wants something at any one time. I was the second highest bidder in the first auction (I am still in shock that US$767 didn't win it for me!), and won the second auction.

For me it's about getting a mint condition early model 15C back in my collection (which consists of about 100 HP's and a few Sharps). I recently sold me 'not-so-mint' 15C to make room for a new one. The collection just wasn't complete without a 15C.
Unfortunately for me other people also wanted 15C's badly at the same time, which seemed to push the price up!!

I am actually working on an on-line 'museum' at the moment so that others can enjoy the collection as well. Trying to make it a little different to others already out there.
Cheers, Keith (Australia)

#13

Wow! I bought one about 10 years ago, brand new in the box with all manuals for around $150. $777 is, well, wild (at least more than I would be willing to pay)! I was just looking at mine today (before seeing this post) and wondering if I would ever actually use it. I have a couple very good 15c's that I use from time to time but the new one remains untouched (or at least unused).


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