How to identify the 'new' HP-12C


I was in a Bureau en Gros (Quebec version of Staples) today and saw a $120 HP-12C in a modern blister pack with the following serial number on the back of the pack: 4CY02805760. I assume this is the serial number of the actual calculator but I cannot decipher its meaning in terms of YYWWC##### as in days of old.

How can one tell whether this is the 'super-fast' 12C that everyone has been talking about of late? There was no indication on the blister pack of battery type that I could see, but I was able to press some of the keys and the unit did seem to respond much more rapidly than the relatively modern one I bought second hand last year - serial # MY84005759. The calculator is simply identified as a 12C - no 12C+. Is it the fast 12C referenced in the following link?

New Blazing Fast HP 12C

Jeff Kearns


Could you get a look at the battery door through the blister pack? If you can get a look at that side of the unit, the battery door should be pretty wide compared to the 3 cell (old) battery door. I'll have a look at Staples here tomorrow!


I could not determine what the battery door looked like, however to quote Allen, it was, as in the above photo "packaged thusly with the blue book behind the calculator in a black package". Of course the one I saw was in a bilingual blister pack but similar to the one pictured above.

Jeff Kearns
P.S. Sorry about the size of the image. I do not know to resize it.

Edited: 24 Mar 2011, 10:23 p.m.


Here's an example of a 12c, 12C platinum, and the FAST 12c ( last photo)

You can tell the width of each of the battery doors while in the blister pack.


You have to look at the top edge of the calculator. Look at the blister-pack from above.


Jeff, I was at Staples today here in Toronto, and saw the 12c there. It was the new fast unit. It looks like the picture you posted, and when I looked at the top edge of the calculator, I could see the wide battery door edge.

They also had the new 17BII and the 35S on the shelf as well!


I finally returned to Bureau en Gros and confirmed the 'new battery door' model and purchased one. Then I decided to return it the next day after examining it and trying it out. As an owner of several 1980's era Voyagers, including a 12C, I am appalled at the Made in China low quality feel and construction of this new 12C calculator and its slip case. There is no printed user's manual, the keys don't have an acceptable feel to them, the case is too small and poorly sewn together, the dimensions are also a little different (more than one mm longer that the originals, although I did not precisely measure it), and the foot pads are too thick. Perhaps a valiant attempt to reproduce the look of a 12C, but it falls short of my expectations of a HP calculator.

I could not justify the $144 price tag for this unit just to have a processor 150 X as fast as the original. I can wait the extra couple of seconds for the types of calculations I need to perform. Verdict: not worth more than $20 IMHO.

Admittedly, I am a little biased: if a similar quality 15C that was 150 times as fast as the original were available at Staples today, I would likely buy one and not return it... Bring back the HP 15C.

Jeff Kearns


Hey Jeff.

I have to admit I'm surprised.

I know full well the terrible 12c units that came from China in the past. It was always funny to show the color drift of the blue and yellow shift symbols to people at HP and ask "Why is this happening?"

But, I have a couple of 12c+ units and I have never thought they felt cheap or low quality.

A shame we can't compare units and exchange ideas across a table at lunch, huh?



Would very much enjoy a discussion with you at some point. I took a couple of snaphots with my BB camera but can not figure out how to load them into this response... Perhaps I can email them to you?

The one I tried out was definitely different than the one pictured above. The % key as an example was made with a different font (more elongated) that did not match that of the D% font. By contrast, older 12Cs, and the one pictured above have a consistent % font. The foot pads were not '~flush' as in the pads of past models, they were significantly thicker and seemed as though they would fall out sooner than later. The calculator body was also a little larger than older Voyagers. It is as though they were given specs, but did not have a 6Sigma process in place to ensure a consistent look and feel with the original 12C.

I suspect your 12C+ units are of a higher quality batch and I would have to refrain from calling the unit I returned a true Voyager. It is a knock-off.


Jeff Kearns



The couple of 12C+ calculators that I have are excellent as well. The key-click is possibly the best of any Voyager I've ever had or used. The plastic used to make the keys feels a little cheap but that's my only nit to pick (and it's a very small nit).

I suspect that the one you had is indeed a knock off one somehow. The dimensions of the 12C+ exactly the match those of the original 12C. While I didn't check with a micrometer, I can't imagine that they differ by more than 1mm.



The serial number is: 4CY02805760. You can see that the % symbol font looks different from the other % on the calculator and looks different my my 12c+ % key.


Is this a bogus HP-12C+ or has quality control gone to pot?

TW, are you following this thread?


Yes. I am investigating.



I recently purchased a similar 12C+ from a Staples store here in Vancouver. The serial # has the same three 4YCxxxxxxxx sequence that Jeff shared at the beginning of this thread. It looks and feels like it`s sturdy enough, well, considering the build quality of many manufactured things these days. The font of some characters definitely does look different, and look just a tad bigger. When depressing the keys, they have a similar feel and sound to my 17bII+ (not the earlier one with the key issues and not the new silver one). The case is definitely cheap and flimsy for a $99.00 calculator!

However, I was very surprised that these newer ones are still going to market with the older 2008-06-28 firmware (i.e. with the bug that Katie discovered). You’d figure that by 2011 they`d be flashed with the latest speedy firmware containing the bug-fixes. Could these particular ones be manufactured in a different plant somewhere in the HP supply chain.

Anyways, I'm wondering if you might be able point me it direction on getting my 12c+ flashed, as it would be greatly appreciated. ;)




James, given you have a Windows PC, Tim should be able to provide the necessary cable and firmware file. The software SAM-BA from Atmel is free. The procedure is non invasive but you will lose RAM contents.


I think these must be genuine. They're widespread in the Staples stores around Toronto. I don't like the key font either, it looks "skinny".

Also, the price of these is jaw-dropping. Around $150 for a 12C and $175 for the 17BII+. For those prices, it's hard to understand what is keeping them from including luxurious manuals and leather cases.

Oh wait, maybe it's because they aren't selling any...

Edited: 4 Apr 2011, 2:37 p.m.


The serial number is: 4CY02805760. You can see that the % symbol font looks different from the other % on the calculator and looks different my my 12c+ % key.

That's not all--the capital "R" (RCL, R/S, Rdown) font also looks quite different from my 12C+. I'm not so sure about the italic X (as in y^x, CLX, and X<>Y), but it also looks like the serifs are different.


Also, I think the subscript for the CFj and Nj looks more like an 'i' than a 'j'.

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