Convergence Dream Machine



#2

Just a few things that keep me thinking:

1 The HP-41, especially its form factor, its rich connectivity and configurability and the legendary quality of its hardware engineering still make it the cornerstone of all thinking about the ideal calculator. But it is dated. Even a 41CL will have inherent limitations, when you compare it to some of the following...

2. Emulator solutions - especially the rich, fast, well-balanced and even CAS-capable
i41CX+ on an iPad are very attractive. They combine input and output options with a form factor, that reminds of the 97c. well but this reminds of the technical possibilities of the 97s. The worst problme with any emulator: the keyboard is pathetic. nothing compares to a classic hp keyboard

3. The WP-34s , a machine that opens up the horizon on modern processors, os-flashing and user definability down to the foundations. And there were darn fast emulators from the very beginning.

4. The RPL - family. Just mentioning it. The only one I ever touched was the HP-28c and as I am neither technician nor programmer I just never really got it. Too much of an amateur imprinting of Focal , I fear.

5. The Casio fx-CP400. I can't judge their quality. I don't know how this much more Mathematica-like concept lives up to problem solving in real life. But that screen/keyboard ratio and the graphical interface show, where I always would have wanted the HP to go...

6. Wolfram Alpha, especially as an App on a tablet. I don't think, this can be ignored, when talking about the calculator of the future. I don't want a machine, that has to be online all the time, but this is what I use when I'm doing math and science homework with my children.

The bottom Line:

a. Give me a fast, reliable and community-aware engine like the WP-34s,

b. give me the flexibility of running it off my phone and on my tablet

c. which solves the issue of portability, screen real estate and touch interaction on the fly,

d. integrate it with Wolfram, if I'm online AND

e. connect it with an optional, rock solid, rugged, HP-quality calculator keyboard that may be connected physically or via bluetooth.

f. and for the laboratory guys out there: add an option to gather data via probes, sensors, interfaces...

Is this so far fetched? I mean: It's all out there and possibly it just calls for a team of talented girls and boys to throw it all together. It might even sell: Maths and Science won't die out...

Edited: 9 Apr 2013, 3:29 p.m.


#3

There is a saying 'Don't force it - use a bigger hammer'. So the tool you need depend on your needs. Q: Do you need a swiss knife with WiFi connecting you to HP Forum while taking a outdoor snack in a remote area?

Q2: Why do you think are there so many different 'râpe tout' and one more?

Q3: Are you dreaming of a 'one-fits-all' calculator/car/woman/government/...?

How about this one?

Ciao.....Mike


#4

Yes and no:

You're right: No one wants all this in one box. It would be too big and too complicated...

But then: Emulators are doing lots of different things for many people already. And
I just keep thinking that so much hard- and software endeavour goes into keeping up calculators as a separate category of hardwired tools, when the only thing that a good tablet or fast smartphone need today, would be "just" a decent keyboard.

Think iPhone WP 34S Emulator showing lots of info onscreen paired with a rugged HP keyboard...

What keeps coming back to me is the idea that the keys are there, but it's in the software, whether I use it in standalone mode for an emulated calculator or as an input device to something like the Wolfram Alpha App.

Is this more down to earth?


#5

Yes it is ;)

Ciao.....Mike

#6

Call me oldfashioned, but I think the calculator as we know it is per se "dead". Almost everybody aged 12 and up uses a smartphone today, within one or two years, those will be as powerful as todays desktop computer, which means plenty of CPU cycles available for a calculator application. Modern touch interfaces aren't that bad either.

Probably the only reason we still see releases of updated calculators are exams and schools. But that is a rather political reason.


#7

Saw a presentation of Mathematica 9 just some days ago. Now they come with settable precision - nevertheless one has to stay careful in iterative real number calculations. I asked there if they had something like BCD calculations in their portfolio and got the impression the poor guy had never heard about BCD. Still some distance to a good "old-fashioned" calculator in real life IMHO.

d:-/


#8

This document claims that Mathematica uses a BCD implementation... not sure how true that is, though, because I'm finding other claims that it depends on the host system's floating point representation (which is almost always IEEE, or worse, something system-specific).


#9

This document:

http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/tutorial/SomeNotesOnInternalImplementation.html

gives some clues as to their internals.

M.

#10

Mathematica has always been an arbitrary precision system (you get your numerical results via N[expression, number of significant figures]). Hence running it on a BCD or binary computer makes no difference. (As you can only purchase a few number of binaries from Wolfram they should be pretty confident about that).

#11

I am a bit more "optimistic" there: The Caliper or the Stethoscope also might change in appearance, functionality, inner workings. And they are as indispensable as the abacus that we are still talking about here: highly efficient hand tools...

I just wondered where the next step might take us. And there it struck me that - given all the huge possibilities of modern tablets and smartphones - the lack of a good keyboard still sucks big time!

Blasphemy: Emptying and resoldering the case of an HP-97s to be an iPad mini dock and running a repurposed RPL CAS on it...


#12

Interesting analogies. A style of caliper known as the Vernier caliper was a precision manufactured rule with some kind of attached jaws. Vernier was a mathematician who discovered how to subdivide the smallest graduations of a scaled ruled one more order of magnitude. He discovered that by attaching a moving scale to the reference zero mark, he could subdivide the main scale even further.

Vernier Caliper Link

The stethoscope, while dated is still in use (and apparently kept in the refrigerator until needed).

Both of these old designs still exist today but with an electronic twist. Digital calipers have largely replaced Vernier calipers, and doppler devices allow a much more discerning method to hear subtle sounds deep within the human body.

So far as the "indispensability" of the abacus, it still has a place of honor in my home. Any child that has learned to operate it simply seems to struggle less with math concepts throughout life. While not my first choice to balance my checkbook, it is my go-to tool when sparking an interest in the inner workings of numbers for youngsters,

Very respectfully,

David

#13

Quote:
e. connect it with an optional, rock solid, rugged, HP-quality calculator keyboard that may be connected physically or via bluetooth.

f. and for the laboratory guys out there: add an option to gather data via probes, sensors, interfaces...

Is this so far fetched? I mean: It's all out there and possibly it just calls for a team of talented girls and boys to throw it all together. It might even sell: Maths and Science won't die out...


I wonder if the economics would work to offer several versions of the same calculator. For example, a simple version with typical hardware and no I/O, a "rugged" version (with correspondingly hardy price) and a version with I/O capabilities.


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