15C re-release may be a good time to remind..


.. folks about this great paper, written by W Kahan:

Mathemtics Written in Sand.

"ABSTRACT:  Simplicity  is a  Virtue;  yet we
continue to cram ever more complicated circuits
ever more densely into silicon chips, hoping all
the while that their internal complexity will
promote simplicity of use. This paper exhibits
how well that hope has been fulfilled by several
inexpensive devices widely used nowadays for
numerical computation. One of them is the
Hewlett-Packard hp-15C programmable shirtpocket calculator ..."



Simplicity! LOL

[The paper] had been typeset on an  IBM PC  and printed on an  EPSON FX-80  at
draft speed with an unreadable type-font of the author’s devising,
and then photo-reduced.

The advanced features of the HP 15C are not very simple to use, but in 1983 (the date of the cited paper) the 15C was the best thing out there for complex domain, matrix, integrate, and solve functions. Not even the HP-41 series with Advantage Module matched it.

But...having spent more time since Friday with the 15C/15C-LE than I have since a HP 42S replaced my 15C 15 years ago, I can say honestly that I'd forgotten how terribly awkward and convoluted it is to use those features. But...it is pretty, and isn't that the most important thing? :-)

Simplicity of use had to wait for the HP 42S, a monumental and stunning advancement over the 15C. It is bizarre that some fall head-over-heels for 30 year old yet oddly immature technology, as opposed to 20 year old mature technology.

Edited: 14 Sept 2011, 4:00 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


It's bizarre that we're still falling head-over-heels for 30 year old technology.

I believe it's not as much a matter of the head than of the heart. Fans of the 15C's power as a calculator might disagree.


If you go back over Valentins's excellent stuff, even he minced no words in the superior nature of the 42s over the 15c.

But to me, neither is worth much programming effort: no I/O = No Start.


But...it is pretty, and isn't that the most important thing? :-)

Especially the box -- don't forget the box. I mean can you recall
when you've seen before (if ever) so much thought and design
go into a cardboard box for a consumer electronic device?
I'm afraid to touch the thing with an ungloved human hand for
fear I may affect its perceived value. Plastic overwrap designer
cover too for that matter.




One could argue that people like us (and probably RPN users in general) have the same sort of fanaticism for HP calculators that Apple fans do for the latest iPhone. Admittedly, my first reaction when I found out the 15C reissue was real was "where can I get one?" shortly followed by "will it be priced such that I can afford one?"

And I'm quite thankful that I didn't have to stand in line at an HP store (which I know does not actually exist) for hours to get one either :-P

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