HP Spice Legacy in the former CCCP (MK-61)



#19

I recently acquired a new-in-box RPN calculator that was made as flimsy (or..."economical") as the HP Spice units. It's the common Elektronika MK-61.

It's an odd beast for something made as late as 1993, or even for something that was introduced as this was, in 1983.


#20

Except that it is not nearly as flimsy or cheaply made as the Spices were. As an example, compare the connector for the AC adapter on both models. The Spice used the printed circuit lands on the strip connector, and always eventually separated and wore off or got green corrosion. That's why I discarded my first HP-32E. The Elektronika MK 61 uses a proper pin connector with a battery bypass, so that you can operate the calculator w/o batteries using the AC adapter. Also, the battery springs don't have the nasty habit of breaking off the way they do on the Spices. The plastic cases are tougher and the slider switches are better. Other than the truly awful keyboard buttons, the Elektronika is in every way far superior to the cheap and junky construction on the Spices.

Edited: 6 Apr 2013, 1:38 p.m.


#21

Yes, almost anything would have been a better battery and compartment design than what Spice models used. That's more HP shame from the era that many include uncritically in the HP golden years!

This very common machine has been discussed here a number of times. If one could have only one Soviet handheld programmable calculator, I suppose the MK 61 best represents the model that was most frequently used (there's probably a few in the ruins at Chernobyl). Mine must be one of the last units made...it was new with the protective film over the display, and was made in April 1993, serial 152331. But the more I work with it, the more I conclude that in terms of functionality it is the most bizarre and slowest electronic machine that I've ever come across. It compares extremely poorly to the HP-11C that was around in the West, two years before the MK 61 was introduced, or even the SR-56 from almost eight years earlier.


Edited: 6 Apr 2013, 4:12 p.m.


#22

Actually, a lot of what has been sold recently was made in the 1990s. Mine was made in June 1992, S/N 038521 and was also new in the box with all accessories, although the box was moisture damaged and there was no protective film over the display. Did you get the electrical schematic with yours ? It seems that the government expected the owner to perform any needed repairs.

I also have the MK 56, which is the desktop version that has a much nicer keyboard and display.

Edited: 6 Apr 2013, 10:19 p.m.

#23

Does anyone know what colors these came in? I've seen the typical brown in many photos and I have one molded in blue. I've not seen any other color, but I'm guessing that if they did a blue one, there may have been other options as well.

Thanks,
Jay


#24

Mine is black, and that's the only color I've ever seen.


#25

Mine is black...also the only color I've ever seen on a MK 61.

My April 1993 MK 61 came with a slim user guide, not the 200+ page manual of earlier machines. There was no schematic, though I did print one out from the files at this Electronika MK 61 article.

I've never found a pdf of the full manual, nor anything very useful in English other than the short guide of keyboard functions found at Greg Escov's site.


#26

Maybe I misinterpreted the black color in photos with brown.

Other than my own blue MK-61 I've not seen another in that color, and I can't seem to find any photos of another blue one online. Anyone have any recommendations on where I might be able to ask about the blue color? I'm curious now as to what the reason for blue might be.

Thanks,

Jay

Edited: 7 Apr 2013, 5:36 p.m.


#27

What is the date code on yours ? Perhaps it's a very early model and they stopped making that color in later production. You may have a real collector's item in your hands. :)


#28

09 91 is the manufactured date.

The other number on the back is 613187

There are three photos here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jay_vavra/sets/72157622400654015/

When I first got it I asked on the various soviet calculator websites if anyone knew anything about the different color, but I never got any responses. If anyone here can shed some light on it I'd really appreciate it. I can provide additional photos if anyone is interested.

Thanks,

Jay


#29

Very interesting. That other number is the sequence number part of the serial number. It's interesting that on your calculator the date code is in the format month / year (09 91), whereas on mine it's in the format year / month (92 06). This might indicate that it was made in a different factory than mine, since the factory markings are different. Yours looks like a K, whereas mine looks like a diode symbol. I think mine was made in the Ukraine, but they were also made in East Germany, at least in the early days. There used to be a Russian guy who would post on the forum, but I haven't seen any posts from him lately.

Edited: 10 Apr 2013, 7:32 p.m.


#30

I have never heard about DDR-made MK-61. Are you sure? B3-19 & B3-19M (non-programmable RPN) were definetely made both in DDR.


#31

I'm not sure, but had heard that Elektronikas were made in the DDR into the mid 1980s and the MK-61 started production about 1983. However, this would probably not apply to this blue case MK-61 anyway, since it was made in the early 1990s. You may indeed be correct that only the early models like the B3-19M, which has a DDR twin in the Konkret 500, were made in the DDR. I have a B3-19M and it came with a German Netz-Ladeteil AC adapter.

Edited: 11 Apr 2013, 8:50 p.m.

#32

The factory mark on mine doesn't show up on the Museum of Soviet Calculators page of marks:
http://www.taswegian.com/MOSCOWx/factory.html

Again, if anyone has any suggestion on who or where I can ask I'll certainly spend some time looking into it and will report back on anything I learn.

Thanks again.

Jay


#33

In the future, please embed your Link by clicking on the Link button of the bottom of the text box and typing / pasting the link into the line provided, after which you can type a name to click on. I chose "Link" in this case.

#34

This document identifies the manufacturer as "Kontinent":

http://www.bellradio.co.uk/Tech-Files/trade-mark.pdf


#35

Thank you very much for the information. I'll continue my search with a name to go with that symbol.

#36

My 61 and 54 both have the black case/body/whatever that you refereed to.
They have different screen covers though. One is nice and clear green, one is a bit milky green.

Nice units; if only they had better keyboards....


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  CLASSIC/SPICE KEY LEGENDS Mike T. 2 199 08-21-2013, 04:53 PM
Last Post: Mike T.
  OT - Elektronika MK-90 Keith Midson 9 339 08-31-2012, 06:24 AM
Last Post: Keith Midson
  Working around broken Spice battery connections Les Wright 7 357 06-06-2012, 06:50 PM
Last Post: Mike T.
  Woodstock/Spice Keyboard Cleaning Revisited Matt Agajanian 0 131 05-12-2012, 03:43 PM
Last Post: Matt Agajanian
  Keyboard Cleanup for a Spice (or any other HP) Matt Agajanian 7 301 05-03-2012, 07:50 AM
Last Post: Matt Agajanian
  Spice repair - dilemma & opinions, please McAllan 1 133 02-09-2012, 03:41 PM
Last Post: McAllan
  Manual for vintage Russian MK-61 RPN programmable calculator? Cristian Arezzini 14 517 10-15-2011, 07:03 AM
Last Post: Cristian Arezzini
  Trying to understand Spice ROM/RAM Layout Michael de Estrada 4 224 06-17-2011, 08:43 PM
Last Post: Michael de Estrada
  Repairing a cracked Spice case Jeff Kearns 3 196 04-20-2011, 07:27 PM
Last Post: Jose Poyan
  Can I assume a Spice Calc with S/N 22xxxx is soldered? Ernst Fueloep 1 119 01-10-2011, 08:55 AM
Last Post: Randy

Forum Jump: