Most Famous Calculator?



#61

Some years ago, the Ford Model T was voted the Car of the Century. In its 19-year production run (1908-27) Ford manufactured 15 million of them. The HP-12C has now exceeded this level over 32 years of production - and while I'm thankful we're not still driving model Ts, the HP-12C can still hold its own among financial calculators. Would the HP-12C get your vote as the most famous calculator ever?


#62

Sadly, I'd have to vote for the TI-83. It's been in production for 17 years. While that's only about half the time of the 12C, the TI-83 has been used by so many high school and college kids that it's practically ubiquitous.

:(
Dave


#63

Quote:
Sadly, I'd have to vote for the TI-83.

I would say: The Ti-30. On the market since 1976. Almost every school kid will have come across one of them. It spans two generations in our household already.

But the most common and most well-known calculator must be the ugly unnamed cheap-plastic rubber-keyboard four-banger of which millions are produced every day.

Edited: 12 Feb 2013, 4:27 p.m.


#64

I would like to add that both the Ti-83 and the Ti-30 are "brand" models, where the actual calculator has changed and evolved over time. Also the casio fx-82; there are lots in the series altogether.

However, the HP12C has remained constant since its launch (ignoring the recent platinum etc.)


#65

and the battery changes, and the other internal hardware changes...

Maybe it is not so constant after all.

#66

The TI-83 has not change a lot since it's introduction. It is still produce. But it is true that the 83 had kids. Like the silver edition, the 83+, the 84+, 84+ SE etc.

You can still buy the original :

http://education.ti.com/en/us/products/calculators/graphing-calculators/ti-83-plus/features/features-summary

#67

Quote:

Also the casio fx-82; there are lots in the series altogether.


I would like to vote for fx-82 too! As far as I know, there are:
fx-82
fx-82TL
fx-82MS
fx-82es
fx-82es plus
There are other scientific models like 350, 500, 95, 991, but 82 is most widely used among students.

Very few students use graphic calculators here, but almost everyone has a scientific calculator.

Here I mean the situation in those developed cities, however it might be different in different provinces/areas, for example those clones made by local calculator companies occupy a large market in middle and west provinces. Students of some poor provinces even don't own a calculator.

Also I want to vote for SHARP PC-1500 series, though it is not a calculator but a pocket computer excatly. It was imported into China in 1980s. It was used in many fields and many units: geological survey, highway engineering, meteorological department and even the People's Liberation Army.

#68

Quote:
Ti-30. On the market since 1976. Almost every school kid will have come across one of them. It spans two generations in our household already.
The LED model and the first few LCD incarnations (remember the bulk bat version?) had extremely unreliable keyboards. Nearly every unit failed after a while.
And it has a function (don't reember which currently) which couldn't take a negative arg.

However even the high level TI math machines of that time, the TI-58/59 , had unbelievable bad keyboards.


#69

I went through a number of TI's in my high school and college days. Yeah - bad keyboards killed them all. The keys started out marginal and slowly morphed into unusable. But it was a money thing back then. Could only dream and slobber over the thought of having an HP. Now that we're older and richer, we have the HP's and enjoy those wonderful keyboards. Well, on the majority of HP models that do indeed have the good keyboards.

#70

Sadly, I suggest HP-35S for this category. Buggy, difficult-to-read LCD and suboptimal function set (vectors come to mind) add to it. It's a shame that a device intended to celebrate the original HP-35 35th anniversary falls so low.

#71

Keyboard issues -- HP48G series, HP49G too.
Design and display issues -- HP33S (a good calculator with far too few labels for so much memory, but it does have its good features) -- and that tiny decimal point.
HP35S has its display woes too, and there are the bugs (which I haven't been encumbered by)

But the one that takes the cake for me -- it isn't exactly famous but it is a dreadful piece of equipment useful only as a collector's curiosity:

Sinclair Scientific Programmable -- it was RPN and had 24 programming steps. But you had to press a shift key to get to the ENTER instruction, so 3+4 was entered as 3 upshift 0 4 +. Making the entire operation worse than either regular RPN or algebraic! It was hopelessly inaccurate too....


#72

HP48 keyboard issues? You gotta be joking.


#73

I have seen several HP 48 units with the "shrunken foam pad syndrome", which often leads to bad key contacts for the ON key and the rightmost key column. This is repairable with some effort. I have repaired Classics, Woodstocks, and Nuts suffering from keyboard defects or malfunctions. On the latter 3 series, it was dirt between the contact "spring" and the counterpart on the pcb in most cases. Most of the units could be reactivated using compressed air, some needed more intensive treatment using DeoxIT contact cleaners, as Geoff Quickfall wrote a while ago.

In the 49g, apart from the wobbling rubber key caps, the problem are the key contact foils themselves. There was an interesting article on this topic in one of the issues of the HPCC datafile a few years ago.

#74

I vote TI-81 as the worst calculator (a competitor to the HP 48SX).

The graphing was good and programming language was ok. However, it was crippled by having only ~2.4KB to hold BASIC language code.

Worse, it had no external connectivity (no IR, no USB, no serial) so programs could not be backed up or exchanged. You had to writing them on paper.

Worse, the backup coin cell could only maintain program/data if the calculator was off when the AAA batteries were removed. If calc was on and the main batteries were removed, all programs and data was lost. Some variants didn't have the backup coin cell battery at all.

Even worse, the battery cover was made from a flimsy/flexible plastic. When dropped from desk height onto a linoleum floor, there was a decent chance it would pop off and the batteries would spray across the floor. If the calculator was on when this happened, the un-backup-able code and data would be lost.

My entire high school class math bought these. You could hear the whole class groan in sympathy when the batteries popped out over the floor.

#75

HP 15C Limited Edition.

Once the firmware will be fixed, of course it will belong in the 'most famous' category.

Edited: 15 Feb 2013, 3:02 a.m.

#76

The HP 38G is incredibly bad. It's worth having one to see just how bad a design HP could produce.

The HP 6S is a real dog too.


#77

What about the 38 strikes you so?

The speed is horrible of course, but the underlying system design and organization always seemed sound to me. Limited, yes, but still sound logic.

TW


#78

I agree with you about the software; I actually liked it. The industrial design of the 38G, on the other hand, seemed very crude compared to other HP calculators. The flip cover was OK, but aside from that it was just a box with buttons. It had no style, and wasn't comfortable to hold in the hand.

#79

hp 38G: a waste of a perfectly good enter key.

-which is something i never said about the 33s or 35s.

#80

What's your definition of famous?

If it is longest in production, or used by the most people, then the answers already given are certainly in competition.

If, instead, you use a definition of a game-changer (as was the Model T - and I'm pretty sure it did not sell the most cars ever), I'd pick the HP-35. It pretty much did away with the slide rule and lead to a new way of doing engineering and science calculations.


#81

Quote:
What's your definition of famous?

If it is longest in production, or used by the most people, then the answers already given are certainly in competition.

If, instead, you use a definition of a game-changer (as was the Model T - and I'm pretty sure it did not sell the most cars ever), I'd pick the HP-35. It pretty much did away with the slide rule and lead to a new way of doing engineering and science calculations.


I was about to post the same thoughts. The announcement of HP-35 was as much a game-changer to the scientific/engineering world as the British Invasion was a game-changer to the music world (or at least that's how I remember it!).

#82

I'd say the HP-35 and the HP-65, in that order.

Both made the news worldwide and every scientific, engineer or technical professional worth their salt would beg, steal, or borrow to get one.

Best regards.

V.


#83

I second that. The difference between B.T. and A.T. is hard to imagine for anybody who didn't experience it, however.

d:-)


#84

Ok. I've spent a couple of minutes on it with no luck. Maybe I just haven't had enough coffee this morning.

B.T? A.T?


#85

Quote:
B.T? A.T?

Before Thirtyfive ...

d:-)


#86

Ahh - it's a German thing - making one word out of many ;)

I guess it wasn't the coffee and I was just being dumb.

M.

#87

Hard to believe no one has mentioned the 41 but IMHO it oudsold all the other HP calcs - possibly combined. So if we're to identify being famous with block-buster success and overwhelming acceptance of its capabilities (shown stil today in the different sequels and projects) - the 41 has my vote, FWIW/


#88

I second Angel for the 41 vote.

Had LCD, easily extensible, tons of modules and peripherals, etc

It was THE calculator that bridged the calculator world to the computer world.


#89

No,no,no,...

You can't vote for the HP-41, this threat is only about calculators, not about computers !


#90

That thread is a real threat, isn't it?

d;-)

#91

I'll admit that I don't have sales numbers, but I'm reasonably certain that the HP-41 family did NOT outsell all the other HP calcs, even individually, though I'm sure it outsold some of the less popular models. Most of the low-end HP calculators sold really well. There are two reasons it might not seem like that to us:

  1. In this community, we've self-selected for interest mostly in high-end calculators, and don't tend to pay as much attention to the low-end ones
  2. The older low end calculators aren't as commonly found now, because people are more likely to just throw them away when they no longer need them
Of course, there's one HP calculator model that everyone here should know has vastly outsold the HP-41 family.

#92

Can I vote for the 48 series? :-) My personal favorite anyway. I wonder how many of them were sold in total?

#93

That would be the 12C.

#94

Quote:
... but I'm reasonably certain that the HP-41 family did NOT outsell all the other HP calcs...

At least not everywhere in the world. When it came out, I was just starting at university and wasn't even aware of it's existence. They were only sold in very few shops and at prices that were far beyond what a student could afford. I can't remember ever seeing an HP41 being used! When people replaced their LED calculators with more modern hardware in the early eighties, they bought Sharp and Casio BASIC programmables. I really saw a lot of those, but no 41 ever!

Edited: 13 Feb 2013, 3:06 p.m.


#95

Obviously, Maximilian, we weren't in the same University... ;-)

Massimo

#96

I concur. In our whole (nuclear) physics institute, only one professor got one at that time. And he was known for his hobby ;-) All the people with lower pay relied on less costly tools. You can't imagine how exorbitant HP prices were on our side of the pond.

d:-/


#97

That's true but a TI-59 wasn't significantly lower priced. The TI-58/58C were, though; however in 1979 there weren't so many BASIC calcs around.

#98

1st day results...real mixed bag:

12C, 48 series, FX-82, TI-83, TI-30 all one vote each.

HP-41 -> 2 votes

HP-65 -> 3 votes

HP-35 -> 4 votes

Does rare = famous? If so, then maybe the Busicom LE-120A could be a candidate as the first truly pocket-sized calculator? (and first with LED and first calculator on a chip IC). 1971 launch at $395. Four-digit prices if you find one today.


#99

Quote:
Does rare = famous? If so, then maybe the Busicom LE-120A could be a candidate as the first truly pocket-sized calculator? (and first with LED and first calculator on a chip IC).

Not a well-known machine but certainly a game-changer. Though it wasn't the calculator game so much as the entire electronics game.

Even a museum was named about it...

Joerg

Just to support the HP-35, in 2009 it was awarded the prestigious "IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing"

Dave Cochran (center) wrote a wonderful and insightful article related to the history of this calculator:

The HP-35 Design, A Case Study in Innovation

I also vote for the HP-41 !

Jean-Marc.

If the question was 'what is the Best Calculator', I would answer diffently.

As for most famous, I would have to suggest the TI-30, if one is allowed to include its many variants. It was a device for the 'common man' (similar to the Model T), and many an elementary and high schooler has gotten their start in electronic calculators with it.


If most famous is understood to be known by the highest number of people, I am afraid it must be the TI-30 family. There must be a hundred TI-30s even to each HP-12C although I'd be astonished if there are half as many still working. (Before borrowing my father's HP-15C on a permanent basis I went through a roughly HP-shaped TI-30 with LEDs plus a "flat" LCD one in junior high, both dying the ignominous "multiple keypresses registered" death, with most of my class sharing this experience.) At least in this part of the world our beloved HP calculators seem to be mostly unknown outside a small circle of engineering and/or maths and/or gadget/programming oriented people. I am always surprised when I meet someone who knows or even likes HP.

I am not really sure what to vote for. The HP35 must have been amazing when it came out. And the HP65 not only added programmability to a hand-held, it also allowed the user to save the programs - also amazing!

But from today's point of view I would have to vote for the HP45. Apart from complex number support and the obvious battery lifetime limitations, it is very close to what an engineer needs on a daily basis. And to me, that is just astonishing for a 40 year old calculator!

Or should I vote for the HP42S, because it offers the two things missing from the HP45? No, I think I'll stick with the 45.


Most famous?

HP-35, HP-65, HP-9100, HP-41, TI-59.

Quote:
But from today's point of view I would have to vote for the HP45. Apart from complex number support and the obvious battery lifetime limitations, it is very close to what an engineer needs on a daily basis. And to me, that is just astonishing for a 40 year old calculator!

I think you're right, there. For daily, back-of-an-envelope work, which is what a calculator is really for (anything more complex is more easily done on a computer), the 45 was pretty close to the sweet spot - although I've always thought the addition of a TVM solver, like on the original HP-27, would be worthwhile.

In terms of fame, I'd have to say the 12C is probably the one; it's unique in the way it dominates the finance industry. TI own the schools market, of course, but no one single model of TI calc seems to stand out.

However, I'd also say the HP-35 and HP-65 were the most influential calculators. Each one was a massive leap over what was previously available, and was imitated by competitors. The 41C was also a massive leap, but its unique features (ROM's, peripherals, etc.) were never copied in the same way.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

I personally don't think that "famous" simply means "widely known". I think that being famous implies being celebrated or held in some esteem. Gallo wine is probably more widely known than Chateau Margaux but that doesn't mean it's more famous ;-)

And so, while I agree that the TI-30 or HP-12C families might be widely know, I would not really consider them famous.

The HP-41 might have been the acme of calculator design but it was introduced at a time when the target market had other options to consider. Furthermore the Apple II had already been on the market for a couple of years and was selling well, Visicalc had been launched, and there were now starting to be other accessible computing tools for people to take seriously. I can't believe that the launch of the HP-41 caused as much of a buzz as the launch of the HP-35.

So, I guess for me its all about buzz. Famous = buzz.

Although I did not get to experience it, from what I have read, for the raw impact that it had on the scientific/engineering community, my vote goes to the HP-35.

I have more than one famous calcs:

My first is HP-35: Creator of the market for pocket sized scientific calcs.

My beloved HP-41C: First alpha-numeric pocket sized scientific cals. With permanent exhibit in Smithsonian Air and space Museum.

The HP-12C multiple incarnations: The de facto standard in financial field.

Both were revolutionary.

Patrice

Edited: 13 Feb 2013, 6:07 p.m.


If you asked most people, the calculator the largest number of people would probably name today would almost certainly be the TI-83 or TI-84. I really don't think anything else would come close.

Again, asking 100 million people, that's what it would be.

Most important, etc. is a different question.


In the UK: Casio is by far the most widely-known calculator manufacturer today. Shops often stock nothing else. I occasionally meet a student with a TI-83 or TI-84, but it's rare. Ask 100 people: "Who makes calculators?" and I expect 90+ would name only Casio.

Historically: Sinclair! He didn't just make cheap computers; before that, he made a whole range of cheap calculators (of dubious construction quality) that I remember being wildly popular when I was at school. I'd vote for either the Sinclair Cambridge Memory or Sinclair Cambridge Scientific. I suspect that Sinclair calculators didn't have such an impact outside the UK, however.

Nigel (UK)


Quote:
Historically: Sinclair! He didn't just make cheap computers; before that, he made a whole range of cheap calculators (of dubious construction quality) that I remember being wildly popular when I was at school. I'd vote for either the Sinclair Cambridge Memory or Sinclair Cambridge Scientific. I suspect that Sinclair calculators didn't have such an impact outside the UK, however.

I had the opportunity of handling and trying several of them at their time of reselase and, frankly, I found them quite bad.

Their construction quality was abysmal, calculations were slow, accuracy was very poor, the RPN implementation was quite limited, and so on and so forth.

Their good points were their really small and convenient size, they were stylish, and any calculator at the time, despite their limitations, was a source of awe and admiration.

Best regards.


V.

Quote:
Historically: Sinclair! He didn't just make cheap computers; before that, he made a whole range of cheap calculators (of dubious construction quality) that I remember being wildly popular when I was at school.
I have one Cambridge just for its nice design and the Bowmar display, but the misplaced decimal dot and zero is a serious design flaw in the best Sir Clive tradition.

OT: Recently saw 'Micro Men'. Not so much about calculators, but very interesting :-).

If your criteria for famous is that it's recognisable to a large number of people I think it has to be the HP-12C. Anyone who has worked in a commercial organisation or consulted with an accountant or other financial bod over the last 30 years must have seen one. They have a distinctive look - distinctive if you haven't come across the scientific Voyagers that is. I still remember as a (younger) lad back in the 1980s browsing the Spicer's stationery catalogue for green and white stripy listing paper for the enormously huge and noisy IBM impact printer which sat next to my right ear. I did of course deviate to the calculators section and was immediately taken by the good looking 12C which really stood out against the morass of Casio and TI ordinariness and lusting after it even though I only had use for a scientific calculator. I was very jealous when out financial controlled took delivery of one.


When i got my 15C LE and took it to work it was widely recognized by my coworkers as a 12c and i'm not sure i ever fully convinced them otherwise. Lol. I think a TI83 would have also been widely recognized.

Well, if it's down to popular interest defining "famous", then according to google, the Ti-83 absolutely blows the HP-12c out of the water:

Google Trends: HP-12C vs TI-83

The interest in the TI-83 is definitely US-centric, but it appears that Brazil is a hotbed of interest in the 12C.


Now I had to google this TI thing to find out what it is, thus skewing the results ;-)


Anything to do with the Heisenberg Principle? :-)

Edited: 20 Feb 2013, 10:57 p.m.

Quote:
but it appears that Brazil is a hotbed of interest in the 12C.

Perhaps because not too long ago we had extremely high inflation rates (prices increased overnight and at the peek even during the day. The HP-12C must have been a great tool back then, I guess. I remember for a time I was a millionaire :-)

http://i918.photobucket.com/albums/ad30/gwbarbosa/bills_n_calcs_zps92d69fa6.png

The 50k bill in the lower left corner was worth US$ 18.18 by the time it was discontinued in '94, when the real was introduced.

It is between the 12C and 41C.


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