New Calc market Survey


Well as an update: I've received emails from 5 potential customers so far. Not a whale of a market, but I will perservere for a bit...

What appears to be missed most is:

Keypad feel of classic HP calcs - TI built calcs not a substitute

Desire for simple keystroke programming approach


Some desire to mimic 48 series capabilities

Any other potential customers out there?



I am interested in continued availability of RPN programmable calculators. Keyboard feel is better on HPs, but not the main point. Reliability is very important. I started with TI's (lower cost, I was a student on a budget) and their original calculators were pretty good. I am thinking of the SR10 and the SR51A. When my SR51A was stolen, I replaced it with a TI-55. It developed keyboard bounce almost immediately. I then purchased an HP34C, which was one of the most reliable calculators I ever saw. When my wife's TI developed keyboard bounce (her third TI with the same problem) we bought her an HP32E. Both of them still work reasonably well today (18-20 years later, mine with heavy use for 10 years). The newer TIs are again reasonably reliable, from what I have seen of student calculators. But there is no way I ever want to go back to algebraic entry. TI lost my business due to shoddy calculators, but they won't get it back (unless I have no alternative) without an RPN unit.

Now that I've rambled with my calculator life history, I remember the other idea I wished to suggest: I believe there must be other scientists/engineers like myself who appreciate the advantages of RPN. I think a limited run calculator could have possibilities. Steve Ciarcia of Circuit Cellar made IBM/XT and AT clones that were sold (as kits?), so I would think someone could do the same with a limited run calculator. A LINUX style open source effort, maybe?



Hi Dave,

I think reliability and RPN are the attributes I admire best in a calculator. I do like the tactile affirmation of HP's keypads, though. Thank you for this survey.

Best wishes for our future,



I would like reliability, RPN, Complex numebers and please, more interesting high level functions , like gamma , bessel,hypergeometric.

(I mean 1000 time faster than the 41C or the 48)



RPN and an intelligent keyboard layout would be key for me.

Some form factors:
(1) very pocketable, like the $6.00 TI25X w/added durability and good keyboard.

(4) some midsize calc whose keycaps were replaceable, relabellable, etc. - combined w/firmware programs or user programmability - makes for flex. calc (think Calculated Industries stuff)

(3) a bit larger/bulkier - like an HP25 w/backlit LCD. I LOVE that feel. Calcs can be too small for desktop use.

(4) RPN sci desk calc w/printer. Large keys for 0-9/ Enter/'.'/EEX/CHS.

When I need to do serious math, I have Matlab and/or Excel on a PC. A calc for me is for 'playing with numbers'. Fancy programmability and high speed are far less of an issue for me now. An HP49 is not useful to me. An HP41C or 42S level of programmability would be OK, with something like HP71B BASIC useful for larger programs (no reasone why two can't coexist).

Aside from programmability, the features of the old HP27 (LED) version are nice: sci + financial...

Base features:
- orig. 4-level RPN (not 28S/48S "RPN"!!!)
- hex/dec/oct/bin conv. + math easily used from
keyboard; maybe some HP16C features and IEEE
floating pt conversion functions.
- PV/FV/n/i/PMT & related financial functions;

- cheapie 8-bit microcontroller (80C51, H8, 68HC05/08, etc.)
w/internal RAM, ROM, timers, serial, GPIOs;
external serial EEPROM (24CXX/93C5X series)
for user prgrm storage.

- min. backlit one-line ASCII matrix LCD display

- RS232 serial (5V drivers optional?) and 8bit GPIO

That's my 2 bits...

Bill Wiese
San Jose, CA


There appears to be 3 general categories where HP could do well:

(1) a simple, inexpensive RPN scientific pocket calculator that one could take anywhere, glovebox, etc..., say under $30, along the lines of the HP32.

(2) an upgraded scientific calculator along the lines of an improved HP42, price $50-$125.

(3) improve the HP48/49 series with a faster processor, more memory, and upgraded programming, price about $150 to compete with TI.


I would like to buy a new RPN 4-level stack calculator with Voyager style and size case, dot matrix dispaly with full alpha capability using HP-41 style mode keys, 41 style programming and function display, menus to access extended scientific functions or financial calulations.

Equation solver.

Ability to run 41C, 11C, 15C or 42S programs for backwards compatibility (perhaps via a PC conversion utility).

RS232 mini connector to PC with built in control software and a pc disk packaged which allows full PC emulation and program development plus synchronisation of program files.

Clock, alarms and stopwatch built in.

MUST have the 41 Fullnut or Voyager keyboard feel and click.

....dream on.....


for serial connections, I personally think it's crucial to run a standard serial terminal style of interface. I want something that any system with rs232 and and ansi terminal can connect to and share files with.

*any* propriatary solution requiring special software will lessen the value of the serial port. something that talks ansi I can connect to from just about any computer currently being used without needing anything except standard OS distribution supplied apps.

I can give a lot of ground on the rest- lines of display, graphics capability, expansion possibilities (begrudgingly). But if I can't access and share data with my sun, windows, hpux, aix, and hp48 boxes, it's not really an improvement over the 42s.


I second Christof, who just reminded me of the travails I've had with WinCe (and maybe soon with Palm). Kermit may be slow, but it's very reliable, and works on boatloads of platforms.

However, I've gone over my entry to this survey many times, many lists, and every time I seem to end up with specs for a device that has most of the features of a 48 but with a 49's Algebraic Mode & flashability, and a 41's RPN (one calc to rule them all :). I don't seem to care if it fits in my shirt-pocket, but I sure care that the art of the calculator is advanced.


I would like to share your hopefulness, Glen, but HP-central seems to be playing Frodo to our Sauron and seems to be eyeing Mt. Doom too fondly.

Sorry this doesn't add much intelligence to the discussion line, but I am only a fool ...

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