HP PRIME-Where there's smoke.....


To all:

It appears the PRIME calculator is more than just swamp gas or wishful thinking.

I unearthed the following:

HP has registered the trademark.

My guess is, given their close cloning of certain CASIO products, this apparatus will be a PRIZM-based platform with HP software for RPL,etc.

Not a bad idea, as the PRIZM has an excellent colour screen and impressive battery life.

Hybrid of PRIZM and tweaked 50G. Great idea.

John Stark


The trademark's already been found.

In any case, the only reliable information we have is that it's a graphing calculator, that it's called Prime, and that its product number is probably NW280AA. And that's not even exactly reliable - it could simply be HP throwing trademarks at the wall (big companies do that) and tossing some fake products into NDAed catalogs to see which ones leak their products.

We have no idea what hardware it's using, we have no idea what software it's using. We don't even know if they mean "prime" as in "ultimate" (and therefore replacing or being above the 50g), or "prime" as in a "primer", or first graphing calculator (and therefore replacing the 9g).

Here's my pure speculation - please do not take this as fact, this is almost entirely unsourced, just guesses - about this calculator.

First off, I'm guessing that "Prime" does mean "ultimate". So, we're talking a 50g-class machine. The remainder of this post's guesses are based on that.

I suspect the software stack will be based on that of the 39gII, due to Tim Wessman stating that the 39gII's software is the foundation of future high-end calculators. Therefore, this isn't natively a stack-based machine as far as I know, and has no connection to any SysRPL machine other than sharing some user interface conventions, and I believe Tim's said that it has a C rewrite of the 48-series math libraries. I believe the primary programming model will be identical to that of the 39gII, so not at all RPN-like. It may be possible to have backwards compatibility with UserRPL, but I'm unsure if they'll do that or not (and I suspect it'd be difficult).

I do believe that HP will have a form of RPN input, and I suspect the stack will behave like that of an RPL calculator (infinite stack, with Enter confirming entry to the bottom of the stack - the first I'm almost certain of, the second I'm 100% certain of given that Entry RPN exists and is used by all new 4-level RPN calcs).

As for the hardware, I suspect it'll be reminiscent of the 39gII, but with higher build quality (the 39gII has been reported as not being up to the standards of the 50g, as it's marketed as an entry-level student graphing calculator, and was designed as such). System on chip may be completely different - I believe HP's made something portable enough to be independent of that. I haven't dug deep enough into the binary, but I have a suspicion that there's not any ARM code in the emulator, and that it's a straight Win32 build of the 39gII software. If I'm right, that means that they've got freedom to change SoCs - or even CPU architectures for whatever reason - for each calculator that they release, and not break things.

Display, I think they'll stick with greyscale for power consumption reasons. Maybe better than 256x127 (it looks rather bad when a TI-84+ (even if it is the CSE) is beating you on pixel count), but greyscale nonetheless.


We don't even know if they mean "prime" as in "ultimate" (and therefore replacing or being above the 50g), or "prime" as in a "primer", or first graphing calculator (and therefore replacing the 9g).

And because
53 is prime I would suggest they call it HP 53g :-)


That's irrefutable logic Gerson, afraid you just uncovered their truculent marketing plot :-)


Do you think that HP sees a profitable market for a new (high end) calculator? If half of the world is walking around carrying a smartphone or a tablet for which emulations of the best calculators are available (even and especially developed in an open source environment by devoted amateurs and connoisseurs), I really am curious to see a new high end hardware calculator.

Edited: 3 Apr 2013, 7:29 a.m.


The market is quite small, but it does exist, and I think HP could profit if they do it right.

  • A segment of the higher education market (where they may not have access to a computer in certain situations) can use it, although often educational calculators get crippled so that instructors don't have to worry about someone's calculator taking the test for them
  • If I were working in the field, I'd much rather depend on a 50g that costs $110 or whatever it is to replace now, and runs for months on AAAs, rather than a smartphone that costs $600 and runs for hours on a proprietary LiIon battery
  • Similarly, a laptop running a math package isn't practical in many of those situations
  • There's always the anti-convergence argument - some people want a dedicated device for calculating, which is especially handy when using the phone for something else. Also, most smartphones don't have keyboards, whereas calculators do

That said, the market being quite small, it needs to share resources with the markets where calculators are firmly entrenched. Excluding 4-bangers, that means financial (where HP is strong, but not much can be shared with a grapher - an RPN scientific, yes, just look at the WP 34S, but not a grapher) and education (I don't know how HP is doing outside of the US, but in the US, textbooks actually teach TI-83+ button presses, so that's a market that is extremely weak for HP).

And, HP has shared resources between calculator families before, all the way back to... well, the HP-80, really. But, even the 48, which was its own platform, used a software stack that was originally used on a financial machine (but intended for scientific machines), and shared a lot of hardware resources (manufacturing methods, suppliers, and even some parts) with the Pioneer machines. And, they ultimately released the 38 as a cut-down educational variant.

Not only that, but they've got the beginnings of a suitable software stack (the key will be integrating RPN, as much of the buyers of a high-end HP will want RPN - although, there's a reason why the 49 and newer boot up in algebraic, and it's almost certainly expanding the market - if someone uninitiated to RPN picks up a 50g and it's in RPN mode, they're less likely to try to understand the machine, but in algebraic, they'll be able to do basic calculations on it), and they've got the beginnings of a suitable hardware platform in the 39gII. And, HP has shown that they're able to do extremely niche market releases - see the 15C LE - on an existing hardware platform. Granted, that one was less effort, given that they already had the Nut emulator for the ARM 12Cs, and they already had the 15C ROM developed, so there was less software effort, but still.

Edited: 3 Apr 2013, 7:54 a.m.


I wouldn't be surprised if a business calculator could take advantage of graphing. Being able to spit out a quick pie graph or produce a mortgage remaining over time plot would be potentially useful -- at least it would seem like a useful feature at purchase time which is all that is really important.

- Pauli


Considering the company I work for as part of their financial platform provides many canned calculators for business (currently web based), there is definitely a market for this sort of stuff.

Unfortunately, people won't see the value of a handheld stand alone calculator until someone chops the internet off for a few days or something and ruins their "business continuity plan" (which usually involves waiting until "the cloud" comes back online).


Well considering it's impossible to key accurately on a glass keyboard, normal keyboards are inefficient and awkward at entering math, the best smartphones and tablets last at least 20-30 times less time on a charge, Mathematica and equivalents are hideously expensive, doesn't get swiped the moment you wave it around in public, bounces when you drop it rather than smash into a million expensive bits, is programmable without paying Apple the price of an HP50G and finally it doesn't ring when your wife calls half way through a CAS operation and trash your context, I think the market is definitely there.

As for half the world, tablets and smart phones are pretty much non existent outside the stereotypical Western cities where there is a place to charge them every 8 hours...


Ok, ok. I guess I'll come clean. Here's a picture.


Edited: 3 Apr 2013, 11:19 a.m.


solocalculadoras.com gives a released date : summer late...


The simplicity of this new user interface is elegant and beautiful. But, with that new "ANS" key, why is there need for any others? When I use a calculator, the answer is all I am really after. If all the other keys were removed, that one essential key could be made extra large and easy to use (think Easy Button). It could even double as the 'On' button. You could turn the unit on, and get your answer, with just one button push. And with a reasonable auto power-off feature, there would be no need for an off button, or even a shift button.


That looks nice, but I think I'll wait for the HP Composite Graphing Calculator.

Or maybe I'll just get two Primes and duct tape them together.


That looks nice, but I think I'll wait for the HP Composite Graphing Calculator.

Or maybe I'll just get two Primes and duct tape them together.

Why get two Primes when you can just order a single Composite and break it down into (at least two) Primes. You get two (or more) for the price of one depending which "version" of the HP Composite Graphing Calculator you buy.


Oh, now I get it what a real softkey is! Press the red shift and the left third of ANS for LOG, press the white shift and the right third of ANS for =/ .

Tomorrow is the 4.4.



And Alpha-left-ANS for "V", Alpha-right-ANS for "W"...

What is there under the super "ANS" image, what is on those two hidden keys?

Or ANS is part of a stick-on overlay, in WP34S style?


EEX and +/-?



Ok, ya gave me a start for a moment there, Tim. Then I realized I was looking at a slightly altered version of the calculator sitting right next to me on my desk. Closer examination of the photo soon revealed the devious nature of the evil plot designed to mess with my fragile mind!


I unearthed the following:

HP has registered the trademark.

John Stark

The correspondent is MALIA ABRIL. How unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on how you want to look at it) for the conspiracy theorists that the correspondent's first name is Malia and the last name looks a bit too close to April (as in April Fool).

Han the conspirator

Edited: 3 Apr 2013, 2:16 p.m.


According to LinkedIn and ZoomInfo, HP has a trademark paralegal in the San Francisco Bay Area by that name. Other sites report that Malia Abril is the correspondent for hundreds of trademark applications for Hewlett-Packard Development Company.

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