New Design


I read a lot of threads and I did not see this approach discussed. It seems there are many people here well-versed in hardware and/or software design. One of the TI cases/keyboards seems to be a possible start.

Why not approach TI with a plan, with a team of designers, and much like the famous PPC ROM Project, ask TI if they will build our software into a very similar platform that they already have. Minimizes acquisition costs, levearges off purchase of many existing materials, TI gets a lot of design time "free" by our hobbyist community.

I am willing to donate $1,000 US Dollars to such an effort (I might have to sell a few "keepers" on ebay), but I am serious.


We need a Project Leader/Mannager.

You are right, and efforts are fading away again.

If we are (at) ACO, one would be set as Project Leader (I remember Wickes was the Team Leader for the HP28C, right?) and guide/focus/restrain the others.

Linux was built this way. But Linus Torvalds has been the actual "virtual" leader.

I will not dare asking "Who's gonna be a volunteer?"...




Writing with a tooth-ache; so I don't know if my words will be as lucid as I'd like them. Just have to try to keep the horse in front of the cart.

Sure, you'll need a Project Co-Ordinator. But THAT is maybe Step Four in the Planning Stage; the group has to come together on certain other items FIRST...

This is not to criticize, not at all. But a leader will not take on a task which has no focus. If you take on a leader expecting him to supply that focus, the group's goals will be secondary to his vision-- which he will have already acted upon with or without you-- only expecting you to provide the legitimacy (and possibly capital) to back his next actions.

Right now, what we've got are a lot of nice dreams, and some very capable people, possibly with the will to act IF the goal matches theirs, and if the odds of success seem favorable (each individual has their own risk/rewards standard). That's not a bad place to start from-- but it points out what the next steps have to be:

a: explore the various options/dreams

b: based on that exploration, come to an agreement (consensus) on the goal(s) to be supported

c: evaluate what it will take to attain the goal(s)

d: organize people and resources to work on specific areas that will bring the goal(s) closer to fruition

And, Luiz, do not look at this as a two-dimensional array; the plurals in the list should indicate to you that there is reason in accepting that two or more goals may be aimed at-- for TOTAL unanimity is as likely as there being a single all-encompassing distro of Linux. Further, some goals may be immediately (or quickly) attained, while other goals no less worthy of attainment may be inherently have a longer "gestation"-- so hatching two or three projects is not as dangerous as some might at first imagine. The only danger is in not clearly defining and managing each with its own scope and direction.

Here is a partial (haven't done a comprehensive look, just what I remember most) list of activities that have been suggested so far:

* develop an IMPROVED, Updated 41-compatible calculator (from "scratch")

* develop a "drop-in" calculator board for renovation of old calc bodies

* re-engineer a PDA to act as an efficient RPN/calc device

* re-engineer a TI or extant design calc to act as an RPN device

* develop software to make PDA an efficient locally-programmable ("on the fly") data capture and calc device

* develop new, RPN-style code on a software emulation of a suitable CPU, for porting to later hardware designs

And some of these could be grouped or split as needed, as your plans for Action continue to develop and grow.

Of course, you are at the stage, right now, where everyone has vague ideas of what they want, and even vaguer ideas of what everyone ELSE wants, and of what it would REALLY take to attain any one of these dreams. So gathering INFORMATION becomes the critical task of anyone interested in furthering the project...

Let me speak, Luiz, to both you, and all in this Forum on three points I have personally observed about collaborative projects and the nature of people in them.

To begin with, you will ALWAYS find a large percentage of "interested" parties who are, nonetheless, PASSIVE (usually 80% to 90% of a group); they follow YOUR efforts, even cheer you forward, but will wait patiently for YOU to come up with the goods. Ten to twenty percent of your "interested" group are active; it is they who actually carry on the tasks required. THEY tend to require little directing beyond occasional co-ordination. Do not fret that so few respond to a call for action. It is always this way, as those in leadership positions in community organizations and user-groups will attest. It is not a bad thing; but a leader must understand this in order not to be discouraged, and also to recognize that even small efforts by inexperienced hands are to be valued and rewarded, as every charging activist began first with a small, contributory act; and if nurtured, "newbies" can bring fresh life and talents into the pool of activities.

Next, note that, among your ten or twenty percent of active folk, if you make them do so-called "LEADERSHIP" activities, they are next to useless contributing elsewhere! Look at your own experiences as leader, or under a leader, and this becomes kind of obvious: Somebody has to keep lists, make contacts, write letters, track changes/bugs, report, refine plans, and so on-- but don't give these jobs to people who shine in OTHER activities, because no matter HOW committed, people only have so much time/energy to spare. Find those who have leadership experience and talents FOR the leadership positions; don't choose the ones who understand the tasks best!!

Finally, everyone needs to have an understanding of the processes by which an idea may become reality, AND just where and when CRITICISM is really needed.

It's incredibly easy to shoot down an idea. Pointing out its high expense (usually before anyone has specified or elaborated his/her vision of it); questioning its legality or defensibility in court challenges (often when no one has suggested violating copyright or patent-- and tell me of ANY thing/one not subject to the POTENTIAL harassment of a legal challenge!!); "it's been done", "it hasn't been done", "it can't be done", "if it could be done, somebody woulda done it"-- all irrelevant to whether it was done RIGHT or SHOULD BE; and of course, "it will not sell enough to justify its cost"... which is a common way to eliminate consideration of an idea before a market is even determined or its marktable potential is explored.

You can't blame anyone for being negative; in our own lives, we have to make assessments of what is the proper, most efficient vector for our own efforts. This involves being acutely aware of the blocked roads. What is often unrecognized by the well-meaning of the negativists, is that a group effort, over time, is different... it is an off-road vehicle... and roadblocks, no doubt there, will either be identifiable as impassable OR a path around them will be found.

The strategy of developing an idea involves a shifting of perspectives UNTIL a pathway or two is found; it is THEN that an evaluation of the efficacy and dangers of each path become useful.

Wozniak was told by HP that a personal computer did not fit their marketing profile; Apple resulted. IBM, in the formative years of its Harvard collaborations, saw perhaps fifty computers being sold a year, MAX. Of course, if their conception of what a computer WAS was correct, that would have probably been true. GNU existed pre-Linux; they concentrated on free tools for Unix until Torvalds came up with a usable kernel that gave those tools new meaning in a context of free Operating Systems. I'm sure someone with a better memory of history will be able to add to the list of reasonable views that included road-blocks that, in retrospect, were NOT impassable. How this happens is easy to diagnose: people have a tendency to view the future of their circumstances as a mere extension of their present. So the shadows that loom from HERE will overtake us, even if we move over THERE.

Being negative also has another advantage: if your criticism results in inaction or discouragement of an idea, you were right, after all. And no one had to study it. No one had to ask his brother-in-law for a favor. No one had to plot, plan, or draw a map. Indeed, nobody had to get off their haunches or rub two sticks together or engage their rustiest gears. And nobody looks foolish for obeying the call to "reality".

Everyone should feel free to criticize. But no one should out-of-hand reject an idea, based on such criticisms, UNTIL a better, clearer path can be identified, or potential workarounds explored. What is easiest does NOT automatically qualify as "BEST": the greater rewards often are attached to OVERCOMING difficulties, not skirting them.

And the clever sometimes innovate the way to do something formerly expensive, on the cheap. Or find a new company, eager to win acceptance for its designs. Or adapt an existing thing or process to fit a new need. And then the difficulty we once voiced as "reality" disappears; while a rare occurrence, encouraging and searching for the clever solution is just what idea development is about.

Well, anyway, Luiz; I understand that you do not want to see efforts fade away into obscurity. A leader won't help change that. You REALLY need, rather, to have the proponents of these ideas honestly STATE them, put them forward as full proposals.

Let the ideas lead, at least for the moment. Ask QUESTIONS. EXPLORE an idea FURTHER. If someone says "I want a 3-line display, and graphics", ask how the display is to be addressed, what graphic commands, character-based or what--- make an idea become more specific. Solidify what is being discussed by visiting display manufacturers on the net. Discuss power requirements and ambient-light rejection. Make a ghost of an idea put on clothes and rattle chains; by becoming real in people's minds it may capture their imaginations.

You need a small critical-mass of people to take on a project; they need to feel, first, that it is POSSIBLE.

Then, Luiz, you will ask for volunteers. But the response needn't be: "well, for what, exactly?"

An unfocused, unvisualized goal never rises out of the mist. Guidance without a starting vision is guidance with no essential mission.

But we could work together on defined goals, with a fair probability that, given long enough, we'd achieve them. So let's hear MORE than sketches, shorthand wisps followed by dispirited naysaying. Those who would teach, put it into words. Make your points REAL.

Then let's get to it. I'd really like to see something come out of this Forum that embodies what we've all hoped HP would bring to rescue us. ;-)


As always, your texts are brilliant.

Hello, Glynn;

nice reading from you, again.

As always, you show us again your crystal clear expression of your own mind. Your posts are not supposed to be just read, they must be tasted, slowly swallowed, taken line by line. I myself feel delighted reading them. Forgive-me, folks, I cannot let it pass in by without expressing my feelings.

I'll print your post and read it again and again, not only because I want to have it well understood, but mostly because it's a "brief" guide to the "first steps". And when I say "brief" I actually mean that there is a lot more expressed on it than the simple words. The more you read, the bigger it shows itself.

I'd only change a slightly bit the contents of one sentence, purely based on historic events. I remember watching a documentary where Ed Roberts mentions that they got success building the first PC because they didn't know it was impossible. So, I'd take this sentence:

"You need a small critical-mass of people to take on a project; they need to feel, first, that it is POSSIBLE."

and change it for:

"You need a small critical-mass of people to take on a project; they must NEVER FEEL that it is IMPOSSIBLE."

I'll post something later. And you surely remember that this subject leaded us both to start an e-conversation about one year ago, and at that time, HP did not signalize so strongly that it would leave calculator market. I'd continue that e-trading, but I was so busy that I could almost not handle my own time. Now it seems that I'll have a good time sharing. So help me God!

Again, nice reading from you. (I cannot even dare imagining what would you write if you had no tooth-ache... Hope you have a successful teeth care)


Just a quick market survey.

Send me an email if you would purchase a new calculator with specs and design you would prefer:

Proposed design:

Solid click action keys
HP-42S or 41 key programming
1-2 line built in LCD screen - digits/soft menus only
IR or wireless Interface to either PC or PDA

Software allows graphical displays, larger stack on PDA or PC screen

Any CAS is built into PDA or PC software could supply soft menu selections via IR/wireless connection.

Would like to get an idea of the level of interest. Please don't spam with lots of emails from same source...




Chris wrote:"Why not approach TI with a plan..."
Renato comments: because if we do that, we will lose any possibility of having minimal help from HP - even NOMAS would be out of reach.

Chris wrote: "I am willing to donate $1,000 US Dollars..."
Renato comments: we need a project manager. Maybe if enough people donate something, we can hire a person.

Even without payment, I decided to state here: I can think about managing this project (Luiz and I talked on the phone about this). My points are: i-this is a not-for-profit endeavor, ii-this is a "open-source" project, meaning that schematics, design and software will be licensed on a GNU style, iii-this is dedicated to the brave, noble and skilled community of this forum only - I don't care about TI users or students, iv-this is not a democracy, I am not going to deal with flame wars or personal preferences or business interests.


I'm virtually certain you will get no help from TI. They don't seem to answer their phone unless they see multi-megabucks on the other end of the line.


Why design a new calculator? What is missing from those that exist already. It would just be "another" calculator that does "same things" as other calculators.

Plus, no mater what you put in it or how you design it, others will want something else.

It's an interesting project but I see no real practical use.


I agree with you, Mike. What would we really have in the end? A non-HP HP calculator?!


I've got a ton to type abotu the rest, but to respond directly:

The *available* calculators do NOT do what I want. The exception to this is possibly the HP48GX.And even that has lost a lot of it's field utility. it's really not terribly quick to code a mass change program for chemlab on the fly (which I did tonight, in under 20 minutes, and punched in data for a rough dozen people, even allowing the fingers of 4 other people to touch my 42s- which could have cost me $300 if someone had borked it!)

And even then- I don't have a real timer on the 42S, I don't have serial, I don't have the space and interface to code a data transfer to SAS,

I could go on. I'd like a bit bigger display (NOT the size of the 48, but another line and some decent graphics routines), I'd like enough memory to store the entiure collection of hp41 roms or equivalent.Now I'm getting "silly"- until you realize that the computer I'm typing this on is about the same size as an HP48 and has a 256 meg CF card installed. (jornada 720).

I- personally- feel that there was a break in the development. the evolution of HP calculators along the lines of the 42SX, GX, etc- well, that is what's missing.


What is it that you want to do, that you can't do on a 48?
If fact, you can program anything into a 48 that you need. And I'm not talking about simple 48 programs.

But, I doubt that you want a great HP-type calculator on a TI-type frame. The thing that makes HP great is not the calculator functions. It is the quality of the devices.


I never said that the 48 couldn't be programmed to do just about anything. I'm not sure how to explain the difference between a 48 and a 42 (especially an updated 42 that is faster, has more ram, and some form of i/o)

I guess you could start with gross physical differences. size. balance.

The whole model of programming is different. I tried to explain that in my last post. what I need is not week long development efforts, but code-on-the-road. Something I think is much easier with a 41 or 42 than a 48. There's also the issue of non-programmers using their calculator effectively. I can teach just about anyone to make use of certain elements of keystroke programming to get more out of their calculator. RPL isn't quite that accessible. (though I imagine that someone could build a language into the 48 that matched the 41/42 style without reducing the 48 to an emulator.)

And the 48 just isn't going anywhere. In addition to the fact that it will likely no longer be available in a few months. This doesn't change it's utility, only it's utility to more people.

There's somethign else I'm not expressing well. A couple things- movement in a continuum? Buildign new things, advancing, whatever- it's necessary. The 65 will do anything I could ever really need, but that's kind of like saying that the technology of the 16th century is all I need. Sure, I can live with it, but it doesn't expand my horizons.

And there's a certain quality of form/function/feel that doesn't exist in any current production calculator.

It's an interesting idea, though. To build a language and programming model into the 48 that is similar to the 41/42 without being an emulator. I think I'd really go for that.


Well, OK, they aren't improving it any more. But I'm hard-pressed to see *how* the 48 could be improved, it's just about perfect as is :).

I haven't seen any posts where someone claims the 49 makes any advances, this in spite of the fact that it's more powerful, faster, has more RAM (slices, dices, _etc._ :).

OK, OK, HP probably *could* take a long look at the 49 from our POVs, go back to the 48, and improve it. But will they? When pigs fly, maybe.


>>> OK, OK, HP probably *could* take a long look at the 49 from our POVs, go back to the 48, and improve it. But will they? When pigs fly, maybe.

Well, that's sort of the point. No one else is going to, why not us?

Besides, I think what I'm wanting to do is more like what the 48 would have been if it had been a "proper" descendent of the 41. (yep, I still want a 42gx)






1) First search for the caps-lock key and press it. :-)

2) Then go to and use the search function to find

the file

It's th HP 48G Series User's Guide.

Beware that it's a a relatively big file.

The site has also several useful tutorials.


You can find a scanned-in copy of the 48SX manuals on the Museum CDs. See The 48S is simply a "low-cost" version of the 48SX, without the ability to use plug-in expansion cards. Ignore any reference to the plug-in cards or ports 1 or 2 that you find in the manual. is a useful place to search for answers to any questions you may have about the 48S.

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