Discontinuing HP-12C Financial ?



I was wondering, is HP going to discontinue
the HP-12C Financial calculator also ?

Reply to this forum, or to analogee@gte.net


I don't see that happening anytime soon. That's probably the longest running product in HP history...in fact I can't think of another high-tech gadget product from any other company still producing the same model of anything for 22 years straight. The 12C will probably stay in production long after even the new 9G becomes obsolete.



I recently bought a brand new HP-12C and am quite pleased with it. I noticed however that HP recently updated the design. While I was shopping for it, I found that there were two distinct versions of it. The difference was the batteries that it used. The one that I bought had 3 Panasonic LR44 1.5v lithium batteries. However there seems to be a newer version that uses only two 1.5V batteries (I do not remember the designation on the batteries). I had to search four different stores to find one that still used three batteries (I am a collector and am primarily interested in the older varieties). Anyone else have any input to this?



the HP12C has four major types, being three of them already out of production (all of them with three LR44-type 1.5V cells) and the updated one with one 3V lithium cell.

The two "first-of-the-kind" used the same chipset in two different internal architecture, the same used in all voyagers: one keyboard and a flex circuit assy with all chips and LCD in earlier models and an updated internal design with one single, all built-in PCB. The HP12C kept this design, but reduced the chipset to a single one, based on the fact all other Voyagers were out of production and there was no need for a separate, all-Voyagers compatible keyboard scanner. This model kept the three batteries.

The last and fourth model was adapted to a single 3V lithium cell and uses an Agilent chip.

Hope this helps.

About continuity... maybe, just maybe God knows what HP intends to do.


Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil


What makes me laugh about HP-12C and about Carly

(the CEO of HP, and you can write complaint mail
at the HP website

and her "Carlyized" calculator division is that
they discontinued the classic HP-15C and HP-32Sii
which is for ENGINEERS and SCIENTISTS but they keep
HP-12C which is for stockbrokers and money manipulators.

There is an obvious bias there, indifference
for the needs of the scientific/technical community
but continuing product shipment for the business
and money people , regardless of whether the
calculator has 2 batteries or 3, you can still
buy an HP-12C financial calculator.


The 12c is still being sold because the demand for it continues to run incredibly high! People continue to buy this calculator.

HP tried to kill off the HP-12C several times. They raised the price hoping people would move to the 17B and 19B. Instead, people thought "higher price = more valuable" and bought more 12c calculators.

Unfortunately, as a business person who ALSO likes scientifics, somewhere the cost-volume-profit analysis didn't make sense (and I use that term loosely) in the 15c and 32sii case.

There has to be sufficient volume to do things. The 12c has that volume and then some. Other HP calculators? Probably not. After all, do you really think there are lots of 49G calculators being sold or were sold in 2002?




... as Gene himself will probably support my words (or not?), computational demands for financial market have not changed that much in the last 40 years (maybe more); even computer programs have changed their face with a common core.

What about sciece? An HP15C is O.K. for the major hardwork, but there are moments where an HP48 IS the math tool (or other graph/algebraic calcualtor).

Replacing the HP15C for a more powerfull calculator to achieve new perspectives is one thing. Replacing the HP12C for another that does the same with clock, calendar and agenda (plus memory) is a different story. That's what we have for the HP17BII: it's already off-production. And the HP12C prevails.

In this particular subject, HP staff did not mess up... so far.

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil


I agree. I have trouble thinking of new functions that a financial calculator really needs to have. PDAs don't count.



In an opposite direction to Gene's, I'm more to science than to finance, and it's just a matter of taste, I guess. Let's face one thing: in today's society, cientists and researchers are those who need funds to do what they are supposed to do. The financial benefits of researching are felt longer after the research team starts the play. And there is no way to "schedule" their "discoveries", what lets the money guys p...ed off. And this is a fact.

What Gene mentions is completely understantable: how many HP49G's were sold last year? Whom of us here gave or was given an HP49G? But all of us know many, many people gifted with an HP12C as for being the best salesperson, or for the most profitable account mannagement... Different words, and Carly belongs to... guess which?

Far away from Dave and Bill's first "dream", HP must be profitable and reliable in todays' market to survive. It doesn't mean it has to forget calculator's division. And I wonder if HP staff is not changing it because of both

- it seems to be fancy for business if we have the same calculators others are building AND

- new investors must see new, fresh products, and scientific calculators resemble the ones many people were not able to use (RPN is hard... if you do not think math).

Making a mistake is human. Accepting and taking measures to correct it is more than human. But this works only in a "humanized" world (if this word exists)



I surrender, I'm waving the white flag.

We've got 2 models long-since designed,
"classics" that are superior to the new junk,
the owner's manuals long-since written, the
circuits and algorithms long since figured out.
The investment into creating them was long
since made.

Either of these two calculators 12c and 15c
are built and supported on identical
production lines by the same staff.

Under those conditions, it makes perfect
sense that Carly-types would drop the 15C
for the engineers and keep the 12C.
After all, financial/management/money
people need calculators, and engineer/scientists
don't. And maybe the engineer/scientists
werent buying as many units, so why keep a
stack of parts for either unit, thereby boosting
total units sold and total business profitability.

So financial people should have calculators
that work, and engineers shouldn't.
I should have seen that from square one,
and it is appreciated that a businessperson
took time to correct me.


... unfortunately.

I know you're talking about Gene when you mention: it is appreciated that a businessperson took time to correct me.

I'm not a financial guy, I know. I'm an Electrical Engineer and I teach classes (telecomm and electronics) at the local university. But we must have the feeling for profitability in our own "business". See?

Best regards.


I like HP scientific calculators as much as the next guy. :-)

I also think HP has been very short-sighted in many respects. But, I do know the 12c is fairly untouchable and sells like hotcakes.

If only there were an HP-12C+ :-)



I can think of something that the 12C doesn't have that is very highly useful to someone in business---- *if* they put the time and effort into learning how to use it (which the vast majority won't if they don't get tauight in college/tech/etc schools)

The solver of the 17/19 is really amazing.

If one had produced a 12CS (12C with solver) in the same format, with the same basic key layout, you might have sold it to people to a point whereit could have replaced the 12.... maybe.

For science/industry- the "techie calculator"- I do disagree with Luiz a bit:
"Far away from Dave and Bill's first "dream", HP must be profitable and reliable in today's market to survive."

While this is true to some extent, there are other issues at stake. I findthe modern corporate approach to be a bit off putting. pure profit this quarter for the shareholder isn't really what the top goal is supposed to be.

HP *could* restart the pioneer series with improved versions of the 17, 42, 32, 20, 27, and 18. HP *could* make money doing so. Even more to the point- HP *could* rebuild the famous brand loyalty of the past with calculators. While not the item you save for 2 semesters to afford anymore, calculators are still very widely used and puchased. They also last long enough that it is reasonable to assume (look at us) that some loyalty can be built based on the calculators.

you don't need scratchy plastic lcd covers. you don't need colored faceplates and flush keys that only a 2 year old cna comfortably press. you need quality of design, inside and out- software and hardware- and you need to market the quality. (you think parents wo't shell out an extra $20 for a high school calculator that really works better? -- with the right marketing?)



Hi, Christof! Good post!

You wrote:

>While this is true to some extent, there are other issues at stake. I findthe modern corporate approach to be a bit off putting. pure profit this quarter for the shareholder isn't really what the top goal is supposed to be.

I agree with you 100%, but do the "beasts" (giants) see this fact? I think of them as a "big mass of immense conceptual innertia", and we know from physics laws that the bigger the mass, the bigger is the effort to change it's innertia. I think it will take some time till we can see the resulting changes we are completely sure that must be made in today's economy, so we have the perfect (or close to) environment for a new concept, like the one you precisely mentioned.

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil


The last and fourth model was adapted to a single 3V lithium cell and uses an Agilent chip.

One other thing I noticed about the new 12C is that the bottom half (which, on previous generations, was plastic with a label attached) now seems to made of metal with a plastic surround for the feet and battery compartment cover frame. The back label info is now printed directly on this new metal "shell".

If any of the intrepid internals folk ever open one of these up, I'd be very interested in knowing how these new Chinese units are arranged.



yes, I have. Look below.

This is the third internals version, Indonesia origin: it still has the three butoon compartment but already has the one-chip design.

This is the newer version. You see that Agilent was elected to produce the almighty chip. The batteries terminals were so market because they are not so explicltly found.

Hope this helps. As you can see, these are partial views. I have the complete scanned image (it's not a picture; it's a scanned image), if you want, with the rest of the keyboard.

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil


Thanks for the look inside! :^)

Is the metal (aluminum?) bottom panel actually the bottom half of the calculator case on the Chinese version? Do you have any images of the disassembled unit?


Hi, John;

my Chinese units (I have two of them) still have the classical plastic halves with aluminun bezel only, as the classical cases.

The one you mention has a bottom half completely built in aluminum? I have not seen anyone like this so far. Is it cheaper?

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil


> The one you mention has a bottom half completely built in aluminum?

Not entirely, but pretty close to it. The bottom seems to be aluminum (or some such) with a plastic surround that has the molded frames for the rubber feet and the battery compartment door (which is also plastic). I didn't notice the difference until I looked closely at it (the info on the back is in fairly small print) and noticed that the "label" seemed to continue under the plastic near the feet.

> Is it cheaper?

Depends on what you mean by "cheaper"... :^)

If you mean "is it less expensive," well, I paid retail for it (US$70) this past weekend, so the price on it hasn't changed.

If you mean "is it of lower quality," then I'd have to say the jury is still out. The weight and solidity remind me of the older Singapore versions, but it has painted keys (well-registered printing, though) and the soft, somewhat vague keyboard feel others have complained about on the newer machines. Using the "hold the thing upside down and shake it" test doesn't result in any noticable rattling from the keyboard, so that's probably a good sign.

I'll see if I can borrow my friend's digital camera (mine doesn't have a macro setting) and take some pictures of the back.


I just got a 3 volt unit (sorry, John, I paid $25 clearance price for an unopened unit at WalMart!) And while I haven't opened the case yet, I did notice that the back looks different (in addition to the different battery door). The original Voyagers had a quite thick metal plate (with the instructions printed on) glued to a recess in the plastic back with the only opening in the plastic under the metal being where the ESD protection spring goes through to make contact. On my new unit, the metal seems to be thinner, judging by the fact that the edge of the metal curves back toward the case MOST of the way around. I've seen this on other items and it seems to be done to give more stiffness to thin metal. I say most of the way around because there are two spots where the edge of the metal is flat. One is just below the top left (from an "in use" perspective) rubber foot and the other is along the left calculator edge just above the bottom left foot. Unless those spots are just omissions from the tool that forms the metal, it looks like something structural is going on under them.

One other note on quality: a while back I got a Chinese 3 button unit (also at Walmart, also clearance priced) with S/N CN0 vs CN2 on the 3 volt unit. I didn't notice till I got home that it was a 3 button unit - I had heard the Chinese units discussed here and I thought they were all 3 volt. This unit looks like earlier Voyagers in the plastic molding (other than the color) and the metal plate on the back. Around the opening in the case back for the battery door, the surface texture continues perfectly along a narrow strip of plastic. The 3 volt unit has a larger battery door and the strip of plastic surrounding it is narrower, but it is not textured and a very unattractive effort was made to transition from the textured to the smooth surface. It's a small thing and probably based on practical considerations but it is an additional degree of cheapness. I'm afraid to open the unit for fear of seeing ugly unfinished surfaces on the inside! I know it doesn't matter but it seems to me that the appearance of the inside of molded pieces is a reflection of the care that the manufacturer has taken in the whole process.

My Chinese 3 button and 3 volt units look pretty much identical on the top side. The printed keys are the same, even the "enter" keys with the letters appearing to be crooked or tilted or sliding off the key!

I just remembered something that I saw when I first got the Chinese 3 button unit, which has been propagated to the 3 volt unit: I was comparing every inch of the 3 button unit to my earlier 12C (the one I found in the street in pieces on election day, 1988 while waiting for a bus) when I noticed that in the instructions on the back, they had changed the years in the dates used for examples. I guess they did it to keep the machine from looking out of date - the original years were around the 80's and they were changed to the late 90's and the new millennium. The book says the calender functions are good till 4046, so I don't think it was a Y2K change, just a cosmetic one - something like a botox injection! But on the second line of the first example, they enter the date in D.MY mode incorrectly - 31/5/98 is entered as "31.51998" when it should be "31.051998". This same error is on the redesigned metal plate on the 3 volt unit. The examples portion of the graphics is shorter (to make room for the URL) and wider. It could just be a photographic alteration but some details make me think the text was re-set: the relative size of the triangle vs. the letters in "[delta] DYS" and the vertical centering of the characters in the boxes representing the "X<>Y" and "roll down" buttons.

BTW, regarding the fact that WalMart seems to keep closing out the 12C, I don't think that reflects the idea that HP will discontinue it. The recent letters from HP that have been posted here say HP means to keep it and the fact that they have made efforts to cost-reduce it, while we might not like the changes, suggests that they want to keep making it. There are certain things that WalMart sells at clearance periodically and then later re-stocks. It is my belief that a lot of WalMart's success has to do with creating the impression of freshness. Things are frequently moved to new locations and I think they do this to clean out the dust and create a newly stocked appearance. Whenever I go there in the middle of the night I'm amazed at the amount of activity.

The continuing popularity of the 12C has hatched a conspiracy theory in my mind. Apparently, accountants and business administrators like the 12C (judging by the fact that it keeps selling). They used to be in charge of the computers, back in the old days, and when personal computers and networks became available, I understand they put up a certain amount of resistance to the free distribution of the data they had previously controlled. My point being that the bean counters like having control over things. Bean counters also have a lot of influence over the selection of products to be manufactured and sold. MAYBE THE BEAN COUNTERS WANT RPN FOR THEMSELVES!


I paid $25 clearance price for an unopened unit at WalMart!

Honestly, it never really occurred to me to check for HP calculators at WalMart. I usually associate that name with cheap junk and kitsch-- Oh, wait a second... :^)

Actually, this new Chinese 12C seems to be pretty well made. In fact, other than the printed keys, it feels a lot like my US-made (vintage 1984) HP 16C. Of course, we'll have to wait for a while to find out how well it's held up after nearly 20 years of use.


I never saw HP calculators in normal stock at WalMart but I found the two 12C's and a 10B on clearance tables! I hadn't actually looked at their normal calculator display before then.


I did a little poking around to day at the local WalMart, but they don't seem to carry HP calcs in their retail stores. They do sell the 9S, 9G, and 12C through their web site at about US$5 less than full retail. It looks like they normally sell the 30S as well, but they seem to be out of stock at the moment. I guess Fortuna was smiling upon you that day. :^)

I also noticed a rather interesting eBay auction as well. I'm not sure I'd pay US$1550 for them though...


Okay, here are the pictures of the back of my Fabrique en Chine (ain't French cool?) HP 12C. Hopefully, this all works as advertised...

First up, the back of the unit.

Next, a close-ups of a couple of corners.

Next, a close-up of the right side of the battery compartment.

Sorry if they're too big. :^(

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