A glimmer of hope


I received the following in response to an inquiry about the future of HP and RPN. I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. This came from HP's Consumer e-Support.


Yes, we will have a new RPN scientific coming out sometime this year.
We are not sure of it will be a direct replacement of the 32SII (the
latest discontinued RPN scientific) but it will be a small RPN.


*Small* RPN??? With virtually (I've been watching the posts lately) all of the RPNs ever made being HP ones, they shouldn't have to downsize functionality much (all that code inhouse).

And they can't be meaning the size of the _calculator_ (hmmm, maybe that ugly red thingie that Katie spotted, http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/forum.cgi?read=26987, WILL be turned into an RPN, the mind boggles at the very suspicion).

So the very word small is disturbing.


I think they mean small in comparison to a 48/49. My impression is that something roughly 32S-like is in the works.


Ummm, perhaps not (HP having code in-house)...

> *Small* RPN??? With virtually (I've been watching
> the posts lately) all of the RPNs ever made being
> HP ones, they shouldn't have to downsize
> functionality much (all that code inhouse).

HP calc division has been rearranged/re-org'd to near-extinction - meaning conversion from engineering-driven to marketing-driven, essentially a branding operation now that good old stuff is gone and new stuff is OEM'd. With skilled people gone out the door, there's a high probability they may well have code they don't know what to do with (i.e., patch/modify/adapt to new design) or hardware available to on which to run this firmware. Indeed, they might not even have anyone that knows the Saturn architecture anymore.(!!)

In many computer endeavors, when there's specialized old code hanging around - esp if commenting/docs not complete or clear - and several generations of folks have cycled thru the door carrying all the 'unwritten history' out the door in their heads - code bodies can become almost unmodifiable in reasonable timeframes: the code has to be almost reverse-engineered. In many cases it can be easier to start from scratch. For example, it'd be relatively easy to do a new calc firmware pkg written in the C language, using BCD arithmetic & CORDIC math functions. Would take a tad more ROM than hand-tweaked Nut/Saturn stuff, but ROM space/area is not at a premium in modern cheap microcontrollers, and performance & power consumption are now very good - and time to release is a lot quicker.

These days new HP calcs seem to be "specified" now more than "designed" by HP. If an RPN calc were to be implemented, HP would just say, "Hey, OEM, make this calc an RPN job, OK?". Thus the recent request to this website's Dave Hicks (from Citizen, an HP OEM) for RPN user manuals.

For a calc co that still has calc firmware guys around, Citizen (and others) would readily be able to adapt an algebraic calc into an RPN calc. If it's a true old-style RPN calc (4-level XYZT stack + LastX) instead of an RPL setup [which I PROFOUNDLY hope!] then the firmware needs will be SIMPLIFIED in contrast with an AOS-style calc. (Thus, no need for order of operations issues, hierarchies, parentheses, etc.)

I'm just hoping the new RPN calc has a large Enter key, CHS and EEX above the numeric area. I can also see a screw up happening - creating an RPN calc and forgetting to include a RDN key or LastX register, believing those are extraneous luxuries. :)

Another problem: they may be too cheap to change the molds from an existing calc and just make the '=' key an Enter key. (Booo, hiss...) The classic "HP layout" variants have stood the test of time - I don't really care if +,-,x,/ arith funcs are on left or right side of numeric keys, but I do want ENTER on top. I'm pretty used to CHS & EEX being up there too.

Bill Wiese
San Jose, CA


I think Bill has some good points. One of the things that boggles me is that the two most elegant and widely used/recognized designs of all time are not used as even a basis in modern designs (guess)

Okay, sure, you want to make something that matches a rice boy Civic... can you at least keep the key arrangements and format right?

The other consideration is that- IF IF IF they can get the RPN implementation right, you've just opened up a whole new possibility for the future of RPN calculating. If the OEM manufacturer is making it, there's nothing that says other resellers/rebranders can't go providing RPN calcs.....

(voyager and pioneer, of course)


No, No … here's what I think they mean:

Large RPN = HP-48/49 with unlimited stack
Medium RPN = tradition HP with 4-level stack

THEREFORE, Small RPN must be a one-level stack. :-)

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