Looking for HP calculators... I´m frustrated


[NOTE: This is a long story out of frustration, not a technical one. Please read it only if you have time to spare!]

I am not a collector as some of you are, but only a hard-core user: my sin was that my father brought home an 11c when I was about to enter middle school (in the middle of the 80´s). For fun, wanting to show off, and a lot of spare time, I learnt rpn. Well, as most of you, I became adicted to it. Most of middle school I used it, as well as my first semester in college. Then HP-28s came around, but was way out of my reach; I even worked to make some money, but only managed to save like 1/3 its cost. I ended up buying a casio (yes, laugh or cry as much as u want). I was so frustrated with that that promised myself I would buy an HP 28s as soon as I could. That only happened when graduated from engineering, but by then HP 48GX was on the shelves and got mine in 1997. I used it very little in the following years, mainly cause my then boss gave me a 32sii. I loved that one, and used it every single day, from 6 to 10 hours daily, from somwhere in 1999 to somewhere in 2004, when it died. Then I started using again my old HP 48GX from somewhere in 2005 until mid 2011 (last august), when I realized that the keyboard was close to useless. I didn´t know about the hp situation nor about this forum; I was naive enough to think that I could get something like the 32sii. I called a friend and he told me he was using the 35s, so I ordered one. As soon as I opened the box, the yellow (turning quickly into red) alarm lights started flashing. You may defend or not the system/firmware of it, but just judging by the quality, it is awful (bear in mind that all I had in life was an 11c, jump to a 32sii, and then my 48GX, all "clasical" ones, at least in the middle level). As I started to look for more models, I realized that there were no "more models", and completely panicked; and then I found this forum, and found the "ugly truth". In desperation I started buying calculators in Ebay and other sites, trying to stock for the rest of my life. The result is that I have now:

HP 28s:

1 like new HP28s (I had to take my frustration out now that I can, in terms of money) from Ebay. 225+int´l shipping.

1 badly used HP28s from Ebay, that feel awful when pressing the keyboard (I don´t count this one for anything other than an expensive paperweight, 129usd+int´l shipping).

1 useless HP28s, bought in Ebay, whose keyboard does not recognize the last 4 keys in the bottom. 125+int´l shipping

1 decent HP28s. not the best but usable. 125+int´l shipping, from Ebay.

1 decent HP28s. offered as mint and the best I could find, but it is a bit worst than the previous one. 325+int´l shipping (it was a rocky mistake...).

HP 15c LE:
2, from samson. one bought in 100, the other one in 150. sent through Fedex, paying somwhere between 50 to 80 usd each, plus around 80usd in taxes, each.

HP 27s:

1 bought in Mexico, useful but it clearly looks was refurbished. aesthetically awful, to say the least. your fingers cry just when touch it.

1 HP 27s bought in Ebay. On it´s way still.

HP 42s:

2 bought in Mexico, one made in Brazil and the other one in Singapore. First one looks to be refurbished, but in great condition. The second one also refurbished, and in very bad condition aesthetically.

1 HP 42s offered as mint, like new, in Ebay, for 375usd + 75ups shipping + 110us taxes. Well, the best way to waste money: while aesthetically it looks really nice (it was originally boxed), it has been used as much as possible so that the keyboard is starting to feel a bit loose.

1 HP 42s offered as "in excellent condition" in Ebay that arrived today, but the faceplate is slightly lifted and with two very small deformations, so I am asumming it was also refurbished.

1 HP 42s bought in Ebay, on its way yet.

HP 48:

1 48GX offered in Mexico as new. Well, it was really new, but stored with bateries so there was some leaking in the batery compartment. I cleaned it, but there are traces of slight corrosion on the metal.

1 48S, bough it for 6usd in Mexico. It has a stain inside the display, that makes difficult to read the fourth line in the stack, but otherwise it is in good shape.

So, as you can see, in my desperation I have put a lot of money and effort to stock for the next 30 years (the span I expect to be left of my working life, clearly if I am not "called" before), and beside the 2 brand new 15cLE, I barely can say that 2-3 calculators are actually in a great, or excellent condition. So, that is my frustration: I can understand HP made the 15cLE for all of us, but it is made in China and don´t expect it to last that much (5 years of everyday use, as average, in my case for the classic ones). We may argue that most things these days are that cheap, but in terms of durability and availability expectation for it in the next 10 years that makes little help. And for the rest of my calculators, I have only to resign myself to live with a lot of them that vary from extremely used (or even abused) to highly used at least, with the suspicious that some of them are refurbished, with most of them with a scratch here and there, and then with the expectation that each will give me only 2-3 years of useful life.

I´m frustrated. Call me an old guy, but I miss the old hp...

PS. And am not talking about how close a cheat some ebay sellers are!



My 17 years old has access to 3,200 TI calculators. He recently picked a TI Nspire CX and I don't expect it back till he graduates from high school!

He is an Apple guy with an iPhone 4GS, iPod Touch and Apple TV and disliked all the TI-84 iterations and early Nspire's but is hooked up with the new CX model.

Give it a try!



I was considering ending my other post in this thread with:
"There are worse addictions; some people here actually use Texas Instruments calculators!"

Looking forward to seeing you and Stefan again in April - maybe i'll convert him to RPN.



My 17 years old has access to 3,200 TI calculators. He recently picked a TI Nspire CX and I don't expect it back till he graduates from high school!

Our son got one of those at school too, recently. The kids love it, because they can download games from the internet and play secretly while pretending to study algebra :-)

But I'm not so convinced of this thing. It really should be called "educational toy" instead of calculator. The display size for simple numbers is microscopic, most functions are hidden in menus and worst of all, it is not programmable!
I also have one of its predecessors, the Voyage 200, which I think is far superior in every respect and which I consider the best pocket calculator ever (apart from the Hp25 of course...). This also reflects in the eBay prices that are twice as high for a Voyage compared to the Nspire!



it is not programmable

The NSpires have always been programmable, in BASIC. And it is very fast. The current NSpires (CX) are also programmable in Lua, I believe, which is much more powerful but a bit more cumbersome than BASIC.


I also have one of its predecessors, the Voyage 200, which I think is far superior in every respect and which I consider the best pocket calculator ever (apart from the Hp25 of course...).

You must have really big pockets.


Bienvenidos al club de hombres viejos.

You can find good articles here on re-fixing your fixed calculators. There is also someone who posts here who is getting ready to publish a book on refurbishing hp calcs. Another person who posts here, Randy Sloyer of "fixthatcalc.com, does fine work on the models he works on but he is in the US and you'd probably have to pay import duties again.

There are worse addictions.


Bienvenidos al club de hombres viejos...

Hey! Ouch.


I prefer this... bienvenido al club de los sabios.


You can find good articles here on re-fixing your fixed calculators...

How can I confirm that 4 of my 5 HP42s I have now have been really fixed, as I suspect? The only evidence I have is that the face plate is lightly separated upwards, above the display. In some it is evident that it was badly pulled, but in others it is not that evident. As said, I have a dead 32sii, and although it lived for 5+ years the faceplate is still firmly attached to the body of the calculator. Any tip?

BTW, in case they were fixed, what is the usual fail *they*, whoever "they" are, fix in that model?


I am not a collector as some of you are, but only a hard-core user...

Fairly hard-core, indeed. :)

I buy old calcs to play with them. That makes me an enthusiast. I could describe myself as a collector in that I have several examples of all the models I'm interested in. But that's bush league compared to some of the folks you'll meet around here. :)

Welcome to the asylum!



what asylum?

I'm 28 years old and like old calcs also :)

My big interest are 48 series.

I have 16 of them, one of the best I have "created" is a singapore unit in near perfect condition with molded keys and black LCD.

Why don't you swap parts of the calcs between them, so you can have prefect ones and not so nice ones?



what asylum?

I sometimes think of myself as a "calculator nut." In that case, I belong in an asylum for calculator nuts. This place fits that definition for me. :)

Why don't you swap parts of the calcs between them, so you can have prefect ones and not so nice ones?

I think that comment was meant for the original poster, but I personally have several "frankencalcs." Cobbling a working machine together from several broken ones is one of the great pleasures I derive from my hobby. I think that shows why I think of myself as an enthusiast and not a collector.


what asylum?

Yes, we know what an asylum is. In other languages it may have a different meaning. Asilo, for instance, is the Portuguese word for retirement home. This might explain the confusion.


Yes, we know what an asylum is. In other languages it may have a different meaning.

Exactly. And even if the definition was clear, I used the word in a special sense that may not have been clear. The main meaning in English is "refuge," but the way I used it originally was short for "insane asylum," which is a somewhat ironic use of the word, given the history of such institutions. You may have had no trouble understanding that, but I thought the fellow I was responding to may have misunderstood me. My reply was intended both to provide more context to aid understanding, and to make a joke at my own expense. (Note the smiley. :)

Unfortunately I think I may have confused the issue by saying that the term "fit the definition for me." I wasn't trying to be patronizing. My apologies if it seemed that way.


My advice, sell all calculators you have to fund the purchase of an original 15C (or 11C) in mint condition, and never look back !!



Better yet, sell them all and stop worrying about calculators...

I have two 15c but they are hardly the most effective or user-friendly machines. The ones with the algebraic solvers are much more useful, especially the ones allowing variable naming (48 series, 17/27 and 18/19 series)


I didn't see a WP-34s on the list. Give it a try, you will very much like it and won't cost you so much.

-Cheers, Kerem


You seem to like the same HPs that I do, so you may have some joy with the same "fix" as me. I've got a 16C, 28S, 42S and 48SX. I don't collect calculators exactly, just buy, use and accumulate them. I've also got a 35s, so I know what you mean from your description, although I seem to like it more than most here.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my suggestion: If you want to take a small gamble, please try the 50g. You can get one for a modest sum (compared to eBay prices for the more desirable older models). You know it will be brand new and not trashed, and will come with a warranty.

I bought one to try, and I was - against expectations - instantly delighted. I've grown more and more excited by it as each day passes. It's not as lovely as the older models, either aesthetically or in terms of build quality, but it's certainly not rubbish either. When you consider its 28/48 heritage, ALG48 and Erable extensions, screen estate and clarity, programming ability (user/sys RPL, Saturn and ARM assembler all on board), speed and memory capacity, you may find it to be a winner. I did, and I've since bought ten more of them! My daily use one is coming up for two years old, and it's been completely reliable. In fact it's probably my favourite computer of all time, perhaps *just* beaten (mainly due to nostalgia) by my first computer, a Commodore PET.


I don't know if I'm a collector or also an avid user, and I too dislike most every calculator made in the last 10+ years from al manufacturers (exception Casio slim was nice).

Older HP's I have include the 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 32, 35, 41, 42, 48, 49, 50, (if I recall correctly) and maybe a few others.

The ONLY one that is ever with me all the time is the 42S from 1987. I hope it is never lost or dies because I don't think I can replace it for what I purchased it 10 years ago ($65).


I have to agree with the suggestion to try the HP-50 and WP-34S. I've been using HP calculators daily since July 1975 with my HP-25. Nowdays I use my WP-34S as my primary calculator with my HP-50 as backup (some things it does better; some things I know how to use better on it). Both are fantastic - even with my WP-34S being a repurposed HP-20, not -30.

For those who gripe about HP being untrustworthy, an earlier posting puts it well - we *know* about the bugs in these machines. Who knows how many are in other vendors' products? Better the devil you know...


Hello Fabricio,

Original from Frabricio:
I am not a collector as some of you are, but only a hard-core user...

I've to smile about this: everybody who have more than one calc, becomes a collector, even he uses them as there are made for.
No "normal" human creature will buy and use more than one calc, if he is satisfied with that calc. Why should anybody learn different keyboard layouts, commands and so on?

So don't worry, rarely you get really a "new" ancient calc...



You are making a very good point that is in my head recently. Before my "crisis" began last august (2011), the only calculator I had was my old HP 48GX (remember, I had an 11c and the 32sii, but they are now just skeletons as they both died long time ago; the 11c probably in 1999, and the 32sii in 2004).

And the whole list in the first post was just purchased in the period september 2011 - January 2012. And not all of the calculators are in the same place; I have distributed several sets of them in three different places, so I can minimize the risk. Just think what would happend if there was a fire in my office, and all caculators are there.

But also reality is that now I have in my desk an HP 42s, which is my favorite one (BTW, I didn´t knew the 42s existed before I found this forum last year!), just 5cm away from my right hand. 50cm away, to the left of my laptop is an HP 28s which I simply love (I really apreciate the "infinite" stack and the 4-line display) and is just waiting for my hands when in need of multiple, larger operations. A 15cLE is beside it, just in case... ah! and a 27s, which is not rpn, but just like to play with it.

Yes, maybe am not "normal" anymore, but happy I found all you so we are not alone!

For all of you just curious, I´m a structural engineer. That is the reason I know nothing about fixing or re-fixing a calculator, and also the reason why I use extensively a calculator every single day.

Regards every one,


Do you do FEM?

How often and why do you need or find a calculator useful?

Just curious.


No "normal" human creature will buy and use more than one calc, if he is satisfied with that calc...

Forgot to say, I need all them not in the short term, but in a span of 30 years. I will be using a few at a time, and when they are dead I´ll pick up a spare.

Beside extensive use, apparently I use too much force when pressing the keys, that´s the reason why a brand new HP only lived around 5 years with me. I am assuming most of my used calculators I have bought now will live less than that, and my guess is 3 years. That also applies to the 15cLE, without any basis other than judging the build quality. Doing the math, I need then 10 calculators for a full stock.

Also think about this: if right now it is almost impossible to get a really "new" old calc, or even one in excellent condition, imagine how difficult will be in 2022 to find a usable (forget about aesthetically nice) 42s.


HP are you listening?

I can understand Fabricio. The only difference between him and me is, that I knew about everything going wrong and I was quick enough to get several 32sii and 48GX at reasonable prices before they got discontinued.

That's enough for my professional career. No longer need HP and their current lineup of crap.

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