HP41c+ : i still prefer it



#42

I didn't have a 15C to compare. I have a 41C with time module for years with quad memory module. I recently - 1 months ago - bought a 15LE with manual.

I was thinking about the 15c as HP greatest one - I was wrong, for me. The 41c is A LOT LOT more lovable than the 15c.

- It have more memory
- It have ABC capability
- It have real world connectivity port
- it is expandable
- it have a real user keyboard mode
- it have tone and beep
- it have great angle on a desk
- programming is greater in my opinion
- you can save programs with external help acc.

I know that it is more bulky, a bit fragile and more hard on batterries. But can you tell me why it is not "bring back the 41" instead of the 15c?

Why no the 42? I think i know : It does not have expandability, that i think is the greatest feature of the 41.

Don't get me wrong : i'm really happy about the 15Cle, but what about a 41CZ instead?


#43

Bringing back the 15c was relatively "easy", because it was based on the already-in-production 12c.

The 41 would be an order of magnitude more difficult and expensive.

#44

It's unlikely that HP will bring the 41C/CV/CX back, or any other old models. The only reason that the 15C is back as a limited edition is that it took relatively little additional engineering after they had already redesigned the 12C with modern components.

On the other hand, Richard Ottosen and I have redesigned the 41CX with some improvements (high-resolution graphic display capable of showing full stack, SD slot, serial port), and demonstrated a working prototype at HHC 2011.

The unfortunate part is that the firmware and electronics is the *EASY* part of designing (or redesigning) a calculator.

How many new and improved 41CX calculators would actually sell per year, given that they would likely have to sell for at least $200/unit?


#45

Like I said before... I'd buy! :)

#46

Put me down for a couple! I prefer the alpha keyboard to the 42s menus, and it IS friendlier to program. For me, it is the BEST calculator ever made - the addition of the modules made it more complete as an engineering tool - especially the petroleum pac.

I don't mean to belittle the efforts of those who put the 15C together - because I am certain that this was a monumental effort in a company the size of HP. I am having a blast with the 15 - I would just have rather it was a 41.


#47

My correction


Quote:
because I am certain that this was a monumental effort in a company the size of HP

because I am certain that this was a monumental effort in a team the size of HP Calculator division.

Patrice

#48

I for one agree with you. The nearest calculator to perfection that HP ever made was either the 41 or the 42. The 41 for it's connectivity, expandability, and off-line storage capabilities, and the 42 for its size and programming power (in many ways better than the 41). Combine the two feature sets and you have a machine that would be perfect.

I think that a lot of people would love to see a new version of the 42 with a few additional capabilities (such as time functions and USB port) added. The problem with the 42 per the experts on this forum is that it would be a lot harder to bring back. There is no current platform that could be easily repurposed with 42S capabilities (unlike the 12C+ to 15C LE effort) and it might in fact require an entire rewrite of the firmware if you wanted to offer improved capabilities.

That said, there is obvious interest in such a machine. The WP34S is inspired by many of the features of the 42S as well as other models and the OpenRPN effort (which hopefully will get restarted and see fruit at some future date) also seems to be driven by a 42S capabilities paradigm.

Cheers,

-Marwan


#49

Quote:
The 41 for it's connectivity, expandability, and off-line storage capabilities, and the 42 for its size and programming power (in many ways better than the 41). Combine the two feature sets and you have a machine that would be perfect.

I think that describes the Hp rationale behind creating the HP 48S/SX/G/GX. Although not RPN machines, they combined the best of both the 41 and 42. Not counting the HP 28C/S - the awkward intermediate species between the Pinnacle of Pioneer Perfection, the Notable Nut Series and the Champion Charlemagne Family.


#50

Quote:
I think that describes the Hp rationale behind creating the HP 48S/SX/G/GX. Although not RPN machines, they combined the best of both the 41 and 42
It still lacks HPIL though, the 41's connectivity to thousands of models of lab equipment via the HPIL-to-HPIB (IEEE-488) interface converter. This is what I bought the 41 for. It can interface to 15 such pieces of equiment simultaneously (the IEEE-488 fanout limit) plus a lot of HPIL devices ahead of it.
#51

WRT rewriting the firmware, there exists Free42 by Thomas Okken. Also there were emulators that run the 42 ROM Image, but copyright issues are complex. Free42, or some initiative based upon Thomas' excellent work looks like a feasible way.


#52

Thomas has stated earlier that the software wasn't written with memory constrained devices in mind. It freely allocates memory as needed which is a problem if you must live within kilobytes instead of megabytes.


#53

Hi Marcus, you are right. But looking at Free42 may be a good starting point if you would like to recreate the 42S; the original message says something as starting from scratch, or so.

On the other hand, possibly the best thing to do these days is, of course, 34S... lets hope HP will not discontinue the 30B. And, for new initiatives, perhaps something may be derived from 34S code but with a better display. I don't know if your code can be adapted to a different display or not.

Best regards,

Andrés


#54

Quote:
I don't know if your code can be adapted to a different display or not.

We lost the source code long ago, it's all patching ARM assembly language now. I'm afraid no better display. :-(
























;-)


#55

I hope your final emoticon is the one to take into account!

#56

Free42 is not very memory-hungry in terms of RAM requirements; it uses about twice as much memory as the HP-42S for user programs and data, plus some fairly small fixed amount for things like the stack, flags, alpha register, and some auxiliary data structures.

The part of Free42 that *does* take up a lot of memory is the code itself, about 300-500 kilobytes for the code and read-only data structures, depending on CPU architecture. An ARM-based machine with half to one megabyte of ROM and 32 kilobytes of RAM or more would make a fine HP-42S replacement. Presumably you would need those or better specs for *fix as well.

#57

The 41CL exists and puts the 41 series into the 21st. century - with flying colors, if I may add.

A new unit with larger display (DIY5) will be a success amongst the people in this forum.

#58

In my opinion, a good calculator (not a computer) should have the criteria:

(1) small footprint
(2) all routine functions such as trig and log functions accessed as primary and secondary functions but not from menus
(3) long life battery
(4) abundant functions
(5) abundant memory
(6) sophisticated programmability
(7) fast

What we need is a calculator. We can't expect a calculator to do anything. I think the best calculator on earth is HP-42S!


#59

One huge drawback. Specially with all that memory. No I/O! That was what kept me from switching over from the 41 to the 42. A memory lost condition took hours to recover from on the 42, 5 minutes or less on the 41.

Cheers,

-Marwan

Edited: 18 Oct 2011, 9:43 a.m.

#60

Please pardon the following rant. I admit I am very prejudiced on this subject.

"What we need is a calculator. We can't expect a calculator to do anything."

I can only assume that you never saw or operated an HP 41 system, because an HP 41 system "could" do "anything". And it could do "anything" "anywhere" until the batteries went dead. And once you become accustomed to a hand held device that can do that, all the other devices, before or after, become inadequate substitutes.

Actually I consider it a gross injustice to call the HP-41 a calculator or compare it to one. The HP-41 was the "System Controller" for the HP 41 System. It just happened to be an excellent stand alone calculator in addition to its primary mission.

If you had an HP-41 and you only used the device in the calculator mode, then you simply have no idea about how powerful and capable the HP-41 system was.

That HP-41 system has never been equaled, by any hand held device, by any manufacturer (including HP) ever. Period!

RPL machines - A solution to a problem that never existed, with 1 measly I/O port.

HP-42 - Sorry. That is just a crippled HP-41

HP-15LE - Mediocrity at 100x the speed. But I am glad that some people are finally able to fulfill their desire.


#61

While it is certainly true that the 41 system has no comparison in connectivity, I submit that, except for a few die-hards, this has no value today. What would have value is a calculator with robust capabilities, robust build quality, ease of use, combined with easy I/O.

Does the 50g supply this? If so, we probably won't see anything new from HP, except for perhaps a 50g upgrade. If not, well... who knows?


#62

Quote:
While it is certainly true that the 41 system has no comparison in connectivity
I have the 71 also which does all that and is much more powerful, but is not as practical as the 41 as a calculator, so the 71 mostly sits in the drawer.

Quote:
, I submit that, except for a few die-hards, this has no value today. What would have value is a calculator with robust capabilities, robust build quality, ease of use, combined with easy I/O.
I'm not using the 41 to control things on the workbench much anymore, but that's partly because my work has changed somewhat. The 41's size is an advantage over a laptop though, or even an iPad, making it easier to disconnect from the equipment and go from the work bench to the office 20 feet away and back.
#63

Hear, hear!

#64

Fully agreed!

#65

I would rather call HP-41C/CV/CX a handheld computer. A handheld calculator should not fall into the class of calculators.

I agree with some of you that I/O is a necessary addition to a capable calculator.

#66

Quote:
I can only assume that you never saw or operated an HP 41 system, because an HP 41 system "could" do "anything".

I bought a 41C in 1980, and a 41CX in 1984. I used them for many years. The system was state-of-the-art in 1979, but six years later it was just an extremely extremely slow, mediocre, rather expensive system to which a lot of other expensive items could be attached to run slowly, with output to an extremely limited display or some very limited thermal printer. Sorry...it is certainly hyperbole to claim the the HP-41C series could do anything. Only the quality and feel of the HP-41C-series keyboard is missed today (that's why I still have a 41CX in mint condition). And here's a cheap shot...it started HP on its long-lived trend producing calculators that were grossly ugly and flimsy, when compared to earlier series. (Don't you love that charger plug door cover on the 41C...if one of the legs hasn't broken off and ruined it, just wait.)

Quote:
Actually I consider it a gross injustice to call the HP-41 a calculator or compare it to one.

Get accustomed to it, because it is just a very slow calculator...always has been...even though HP tried unsuccessfully to sell it as a "handheld computer" (without providing any customer access to the machine internals and firmware) to knowledgeable and experienced technical people who would have none of that nonsense.

Quote:
HP-42 - Sorry. That is just a crippled HP-41

HP-15LE - Mediocrity at 100x the speed.


I suppose you must have carried around with you in every theater your HP-41C and ALL those expensive gee-gaws in your perfect unmatched "system". I have the honor to suggest that only a vanishingly small percentage of technical calculator users have ever wanted to carry anything around except a small light-weight handheld. Few will ever have need to make that device a "system controller". There have always been devices better suited for that than any handheld calculator ever made.

The HP-15C firmware mathematical function set is considerably more sophisticated and capable than that of the 41C. The kludge known as the 41C Advantage Module was a very poor attempt to provide some of the 15C's capability for the 41C. The almost universally acknowledged RPN high point, the 42S, overwhelms all mathematical function capability of all earlier and later RPN machines, while providing much more RAM and much greater speed, accuracy and precision in results compared to earlier models including the blessed 41C. Would it be unfair to mention also battery life? In fact the HP-41C did cripple the 42S in the sense that 42S firmware had to be designed to be compatible with the much less capable 41C.

So yes, I am familiar with the HP-41C system.


#67

Quote:
The system was state-of-the-art in 1979, but six years later it was just an extremely extremely slow, mediocre, rather expensive system to which a lot of other expensive items could be attached to run slowly, with output to an extremely limited display or some very limited thermal printer. Sorry...it is certainly hyperbole to claim the the HP-41C series could do anything.
I started with the Thinkjet printer, not the thermal printer, but in the last 15 years have only used the bigger desk printers with my 41. I've also used the 80-column video monitor with it, but usually I have no need for much of a display. I recently bought the little thermal printer on TOS for $35 since it takes so little space on the workbench.

This 41cx was getting used for controlling a stack of automated test equipment in '86-'87, and I was taking it home at night for other work. It was nice that it was so much more portable than a laptop, and faster to get programs going too. As far as execution speed goes, yes it was slow, but we replaced it with an HP-9000 series computer with a 68000 processor, and the speed was hardly double. Why? Because both controllers spent much of their time twiddling their thumbs waiting for filters to settle and readings to come back from the instruments.

Quote:
(Don't you love that charger plug door cover on the 41C...if one of the legs hasn't broken off and ruined it, just wait.)
The 41's battery life was too long to worry about using rechargeable batteries. Even when we were using it many hours a day in atomated testing, a set of alkalines went a few months. I've never used a card reader or bar-code wand. I have the tape drive but seldom used it, with the 41's extended and continuous memory which has never failed me.

Quote:
And here's a cheap shot...it started HP on its long-lived trend producing calculators that were grossly ugly and flimsy, when compared to earlier series.
IMO, style in general peaked about 1980 and has been going downhill ever since, whether it's calculators, toasters, stereos, or cars. At least HP realized that their chevron keyboard on the 49 (I think it was the 49) was a big mistake.
#68

Quote:
I suppose you must have carried around with you in every theater your HP-41C and ALL those expensive gee-gaws in your perfect unmatched "system". I have the honor to suggest that only a vanishingly small percentage of technical calculator users have ever wanted to carry anything around except a small light-weight handheld.

To be fair, Mike, I don't think anyone suggested they carried around any of the HPIL system. These were likely used in laboratory or office settings, and apparently by more than just a "vanishingly" small number of people, since there still seem to be a lot of these peripherals out there.
Quote:
Few will ever have need to make that device a "system controller". There have always been devices better suited for that than any handheld calculator ever made.

Maybe, but in its day, the 41 certainly had a huge following in many scientific, engineering, and other technical fields; hence the large number of peripherals and ROMs made for it. Someone must have put these to use, at least for a certain time period.

#69

Quote:
Few will ever have need to make that device a "system controller". There have always been devices better suited for that than any handheld calculator ever made.
I missed that one the first time around. At the company where I got my start in automated testing in about 1985, we got an HP3421A data acquisition unit for evaluation, and set it up on one of the production workers' test benches for testing of VHF power transistors. I did the wiring to the power meters, RF relays, etc., and, since I didn't have my own 41 yet, had a friend who worked there come in with his, which he did very willingly since he was interested in it too, and in 20 minutes of his lunch had the program written and working. A requisition was put in for the same equipment to automate the repetitive taking of data in the engineering lab, but the company said the 41 was too easy to steal, and approved an IBM PC and IEEE-488 card in stead. A few weeks after it was set up, the two engineers working with it were still having problems with the communication between the computer and the IEEE-488 card, and getting results that worked right.

I said in my previous post that at the next company I worked at, the 41 eventually got replaced with an HP-9000 68000-based computer which was made for such system control. What I neglected to say was that the 41 was easier there also for getting a program going.

If you wanted to write a test program, even to test only a few dozen of something and then dump the program, the 41 may have been the very easiest to get a program going on, in spite of lacking things like program structures.

#70

I still have not found a calculator that replaces my 41. Yes it is slow by today's standards but...

1.  Easy to program
2. Extensible
3. All the memory you need for a keystroke programmable
3b. I have never run across a program that I would want to run on a calculator that is too large for available memory (CV or CX)
4. I/O so that I can save all those programs I write (and I have written hundreds, perhaps thousands for the 41)
offline and recover them in the event of a "MEMORY LOST" condition. Try that with the 15C or 42S.
5. Use it in my astro classes one day and in my stats class or economics class the next. Just write a WALL card or file and
switch out the machine's target functionality. Again, try that on the 15C. One could argue that the 42S with all it's
memory can do both at the same time but lose that memory and you spend hours recovering.

The 42S is a great machine but it is missing I/O and that has proven to be a deal breaker for me. The 15C still has mnemonic programming and therefor is somewhat harder to program. It also has less memory and also lacks I/O. The closest machine(s) to the 41 are the 48 series where they have all the power (and more) of the 41 as well as the I/O capabilities in regards to offline storage. The problem there is size and lack of portable offline storage (although I believe that there were some 3rd party portable solutions and you could always backup to a RAM card for some added security).

To sum it up, I still use a calculator almost daily and my calculator of choice (even after all these years) is still the HP-41.

Just my 0.02

Cheers,

-Marwan


Edited to correct misuse of tags


Edited: 18 Oct 2011, 4:32 p.m.

#71

Quote:
Get accustomed to it, because it is just a very slow calculator...always has been...even though HP tried unsuccessfully to sell it as a "handheld computer" (without providing any customer access to the machine internals and firmware) to knowledgeable and experienced technical people who would have none of that nonsense.

Please, this is verging the hilarious.

- The 41 system was sold to (literally!) thousands of scientists and engineers who very well knew what they were doing. Facts before theory.

- The 15C was introduced LATER and (surprise) was way slower than the 41. Go and figure.

- If speed is the name of the game, then turn your attention to the 41CL and behold sheer amazing beauty.

-HP released the MCODE and specs way earlier than usual, where do you think all those 3rd. party accessories and peripheral came from? We're still waiting for the 42S or 48 internals to be released to the public, BTW.

Cheers,
'AM


#72

Go Ángel! Go!

:-)

#73

Actually HP released a great deal of internals information on the 48. They haven't released the actual ROM source code, but they did make available everything needed to develop in System RPL or Saturn assembly, including documentation for supported entry points.


#74

Point taken. It's a shame it didn't have wider success then, a sign of the times it had to live in or perhaps due to its design choices (RPL et al) - we'd never know.

#75

Quote:
The system was state-of-the-art in 1979, but six years later it was just an extremely extremely slow, mediocre, rather expensive system to which a lot of other expensive items could be attached to run slowly, with output to an extremely limited display or some very limited thermal printer..

The truth is, few of the machines people rave about here have much value for me in an absolute sense. What you seem to be missing (or perhaps ignoring) is this is a calculator museum. I love the old machines out of nostalgia, appreciation of quality (power cover notwithstanding) and the thrill of squeezing remarkable feats out of ancient hardware and software. The HP-41 was an interesting and important milestone on the path to modern computers. It was also the device I first learned to program on. The fact that it got overtaken and surpassed doesn't affect my attitude about it in the least. I love that machine, and I'm thrilled that others who love it have been so productive in keeping it green over the years.

Others claim practical value in the pocket calculator format and I see no reason to doubt them. They have some very nice choices now, between old HP machines, newer HP models and the WP-34S. I own two of the latter, but I'm using them as fun techie toys. You may prefer Mathematica or Matlab, if your work involves obtuse mathematics on a daily or even occasional basis. I own the former, which I use - as a toy!

If you don't derive that sort of enjoyment from old machines, that's your privilege. But I get a little miffed when you try to disparage the machines that I love so well, based on feature lists and performance. I just think you are missing the point entirely.

#76

Quote:
The system was state-of-the-art in 1979, but six years later it was just an extremely extremely slow, mediocre, rather expensive system

6 years later? In 1985? What was there to challenge the HP-41 in 1985?

I would argue, as others have, that the 41 has never been bettered. Sure there are faster machines, and laptops, and mobile phones with calculator apps but is there a single device available today, or at any time, that has the total capability of the 41 in an easily portable package? And even now, 32 years later, my HP-41 still does the job I need it for.

Just take the example of using the 41 as a instrumentation monitoring device. Sure you can setup your laptop to accomplish this but away from the office, away from a power source, that will last all of 3-8 hours depending on the laptop in question. An HP-41 can potentially run for days and weeks on a single set of batteries.

Cheers,

-Marwan

#77

In addition to general use...

HP-41 was a critical back up computer during many space flights (used in space) for calculating mission critical paramaters in the event primary computers have failed. It was a handheld computer many scientist and engineers have bet their lives on (literaly). Can you think of another computer, you could bet your life on its accuracy, reliability and performance?


Smithsonian Air Museum

Regards, -K2

Edited: 18 Oct 2011, 7:09 p.m.

#78

YES!! YES!!!


#79

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! :)

#80

Okay,

Started with RPN so that is were this essay begins:

25-25C-41C-41CX-42S and now back to the 41C with the CL conversion.

lets say 'personal preference'. You start out with RPN (1975 for me)and it becomes familiar. As each RPN generation comes to market you adapt your programs and continue.

Then comes the 41C, the ultimate, at the time, RPN machine. Yes, it ran HPIL and some of my lab equipment in the mid 80's. Mag cards, tape deck, floppy drive, plotter all in the era of the 8088. We had an 8088, never touched it, would have had to learn to do things differently while writing and researching and working. Besides the mainframe and the 41 performed flawlessly. Didn't need IO to the 8088 as I had back up galore.

Into the cockpit and it works wonderfully except for th dreaded ESD prevelant in the cockpit environment. Used it extensively in the cockpit from 1986 to 2009. Produced flight plans (1991) with it in Tapei when the typhoon grounded the flight planning computers. The F/O's laptop did not produce as accurate a flight plan as the 41 did.

In 2009 I went to the HCC2009 and was given a 42S. Wow, faster and just as easy to program EXCEPT for the lack of timing functions and a real time clock. All programs with minor rewrites worked. Never the less, once loaded and increased to 32K it worked with the IR printer but I was always concerned by a sudden 'Memory Loss' and all the work that would entail (14K of programs). So the 41CX was in the flight bag as backup.

Yes, I had a 48SX, 48G+, 48G and etc but I did not grow up with RPL. I did convert programs to RPL but was never happy with the learning curve (or my lack of ability ;-). On the other hand, had I never seen RPN and started with RPL as my first machine, then I may have another story.

Back to the 41CX, ALONG COMES MONTE with the 41CL and now the primary is the 41 again with a 42S backup. It has not suffered from ESD, nor Memory Loss at work. It is faster at some things then the 42S and as fast at others.

Here is a demo which I presented at HHC2011 showing an extended memory data base search comparison between the CL and the CX with identical 'calculator states':

cl versus cx

I guess my rambling can be condensed to this:

"You use what you are familiar with, be it the RPLs 48, 41, 50, 28 or the RPNs. For me it is the RPNs. And now with the CL board, speed is not a disability with the 41, nor is I/O or memory. I have four different fully loaded HP41CX's loaded into my single 41CL. I just switch from the Palynology computer to the flight computer with the execution of a short routine. I also have a PDA built into the memory.

I don't need graphing capability, or teaching tool and etc. It fulfils the need in the 21st century with the updated board and still works with the HPIL I have accumulated over the years.

Just saying!

Geoff


#81

Amen to all that - I subscribe entirely to it, also to the RPL part not being my cup of tea for the good reasons you list (even if it's technically superior and all that).

Best,
'AM


#82

Cheers, Angel

and thanks for the updated Clutils. My machine is never out of turbo50 so I never saw the alpha display.

Now I have to clean up Gene's machine, boy is he needy! Just kiddin Gene.

Geoff


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