In defense of the 48G+ graphing calculator


KIDDING! This is NOT in defense of 48G+ .. I cannot supply any defense for the 48G+ graphing calculator. It stinks !

However, I will request guidance to the contrary of somebody else wants to defend the 48G+ graphing calculator.

MY STORY: I'm here posting at HP Museum, and clicking and learning, etc., for purposes of determining whether the classic calculators really were the best, or whether there is still an adequate product coming out of the factory presently.

As part of that learning experience, I bought a brand-new 48G+ from the store, and carefully took it out of the box and just study it, see what it does, try some calculations, etc etc.

I SIMPLY REGARD THE PRODUCT AS ATROCIOUS. I welcome any contrary view, BUT MEANWHILE, what I see is this thing is just set up to razzle-dazzle you, intimidate you, then sit in the box and never be used.

I see evidence from the first page of the introductory guide "the power of a computer with a math graphing package, but in the form factor of a calculator, blah blah blah".
OK there it is, written down. The mentally retarded people who ran the calculator division into the ground (the managers and the marketers) saw computers and mathematical software packages and said "we have to compete with that".
WRONG! They paid themselves half a million bux each to say "we have to compete with that" and then they all retired rich, leaving a nuclear waste dump of garbage in their wake.

ANALOGOUS FACT: If you were making hammers, and all of a sudden compressed-air nail guns come out, you DO NOT QUIT MAKING HAMMERS. The new market is additive to the old ones. Carpenters will now buy both hammers, and nail guns. They do not suddenly never buy a hammer again, just because there are nail guns. But the dumb stupid marketers at HP decided they would not make hammers anymore.

BACK TO THIS 48G+ calculator package:

The guides themselves stink. They are in black & white, published like an afterthought. There is no powerful voice from on-high, clearly guiding you through the foundational principles and then building on those foundations with progressively higher clearly defined lessons. An old classic such as 34C is very educational and filled with solid examples, highlighted in various colored publishing.

NEXT, I see the most brazen mental fogginess in the way they set it up. OK they went to an infinite stack. I'm not necessarily complaining about that. However, say I entered a bunch of data into that stack (including matrices, vectors, equations??) potentially a lot of work !!!
All you have to do is hit the "DEL" button and it clears the whole stack. This is absurd. it's not even labelled "Clear". You would clear your stack by accident creating considerable frustration. This is absurd.

convenient alphabetic entry. As a touch typist I type 70 wpm. With their method of alphabetics, I'd be lucky to type 2 or 3 wpm. This is hardly what I call progress. A calculator ("a hammer") does not even need alphabetic characters. If it has them, I want a QWERTY input that allows me to not waste my time. These marketing bozo's do not understand that they do not have the right to waste the time of intelligent educated people

In the 48G+ after taking, cumulatively, one day to study it, I see a thing that is useless, and devised purely to waste my time. I could invest months of study and still not get hardly anywheres with it.

BECAUSE unlike a marketer, I am equipped with a thinger called a "brain", all of a sudden the light bulb goes off ("eureka, idea!") and I say "either I would buy the mathematical software package and run it on my PC, OR, I would use the classic numerical calculator. This graphing product is a malicious attempt to waste my time, and I dont even want it in my house". By tossing it out of my life, I can get back to legitimate work tasks, quite likely using a nice classic calculator as I go about my business. But the key is, I go back to attending to my business, rather than wasting my time with this pathetically devised 48G+.

This is the conclusion that I draw. If i missed something, somebody let me know.

About mathematical graphing software packages for a home PC, I have heard the "MATLAB" package is quite good, and maybe discussion of THOSE TYPES OF SOFTWARE PACKAGES is a natural extension of dismissing the 48G+ and the Carly-droids who created it.

ONE MAGICAL BEAUTY OF THE COMPUTER CULTURE... I can dump this thing on eBay. I dont think the Carly-types appreciate how damaging eBay is to their dictator-ambitions. Before eBay, we were held hostage to whatever pretty tinsel the stores put in front of us. If you, say, preferred an HP-25C, hell would freeze over before you could ever locate a working specimen. BUT NOW, you can get whatever you want, person-to-person, thru the eBay method of communication.

AS TO NEW MERCHANDISE, before eBay, once you bought a thing, you're screwed. Say I didnt like this 48G+ and it took me a month to decide it. Tough! Can't return it! You're stuck with it. And you might as well hurl it into a dumpster. BUT NOW, I can vandalize HP quite tangibly, by reselling it on eBay. I may not get my full price, but I DEFINITELY REDUCE THEIR UNIT SALES BY QUANTITY 1.00 !! :o)

I believe that eBay has subtly altered the "shopping mall to landfill" equation that Carly-types thrive upon for maximal profits. As the economy adjusts, Carly-types wonder "who let the air out of my tires" because there is some sort of drag present that they dont understand. The drag is that if their product is crap, people will resell it, and their "target demographic" marketing baloney will implode on itself much faster than they realized.

Comments welcomed, should my conclusion be erroneous. If somebody actually LIKES 48G+ (like, a crazy man or somebody in the mental asylum or something) contact me and we could even arrange a unit sale w/o eBay overhead.

- Norm


I read a lot of comments about the HP-48 series and the HP-49 and even the HP-28 c/s. I have a HP-38 and tried the HP-49 and HP-48 but, like a lot of you, i don't like them, they are not "ergonomic" and to do SIMPLE math they are getting me crazy...

I have a great question : IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONCTRUCT A GOOD GRAPHING CALCULATOR THAT MEETS what we think is ok in a calculator???

I am a physic teacher and use a TI-83+ a lot in classroom with viewscreen because all sudents have one so...

I think that TI graphing calculators series are more "ergonomic" as a learning tool (ti-83 eries) and even as sicentist or mathematician work tool (the TI-89 or TI-92); they are also, in my opinion, well construct, repairable and good quality, as much as the HP-48 series.

But for non graphing needs, i don't use graphing calculator because of the form factors and simplicity reasons : I prefer the HP-41 or the HP-25

So even if HP or TI invent a very good graphing calculator with all the quality we can expect and all the OS we like, i'm sure we will not like it as much as a HP-15C or a 41 and so we will criticate the "calculator"

This come to me that graphing calculators are not really calculators but are "portable graphing tool" or "learning tool" and none of these tools will meet my "calculators" needs. It's not just only the form factor but some other reasons, that i can't fix in my mind that make me USE A LOT my graphing calculators at school and LOVE A LOT my HP-41 at school and everywhere...


If somebody actually LIKES 48G+ (like, a crazy man or somebody in the mental asylum)

Is really necessary to insult?
Many people is very happy with his 48S/SX/G/G+/GX...The absolute Queen in 90's.
If you can't reach to understand this calculator, it is a pity, but don't insult. Just use that brain you say you are equipped with.


And it is VERY convenient to clear the whole stack with an only key.


Is really necessary to insult? ... it is VERY convenient to clear the whole stack with an only key. - Raul

----->>>it is very convenient to clear the whole
stack BY ACCIDENT ??

Agree'd a "CLR STK" is a favorable function that I wish to have.

It is available on 25C, I dont see it on 34C or 32S

Not having a stack-clear button available is a drawback, but having an "accidental unlabelled" stack-clear is worse.

It could reasonably stated that it must be clearly
labelled and a multi-button press so that it doesn't occur by accident.


Okay, what I hate about modern computing most- MORE than anything- is hand holding. I do not want warning boxes when I delete things. I do not want a warning box when I clear the stack- and I like being able to do it with a fairly easy combination keystroke. Maybe this is part of me coming from the unix world in computing rather than the windows world? (and yes, I have accidentally "rm -rf *"d myself. I learned a lot about backus that way :)

I admit I like the 48SX better than the G series, but both operate just fine once you learn the interface. and it's not that hard.

the <- arrow key clears a space. you shift it to clear the stack. okay. this is not a problem. I'm handy with a STO function and I know what modifies lastx

do you think it was any harder to keep data in the stack with a 41?


When I finally came to terms with the 48 (48SX, 48G and 49G simultaneously), one of the things I had to learn is that the stack isn't just a place to leave things, like a paper tape. When I want to save something, I should store it in a variable. Then I can also take advantage of the hierarchical directory system. Clearing the stack should be a fairly frequent operation before starting a new task, whether I use the actual clear stack function or just hit the back arrow a few times.


i know what you mean but i like mine.

i have personaly known only two people who use one of the 48 series as a calculator but have known many dozens of folks that use canned programs on them. i think that is what it is for. i don't think i could even learn rpl but all that memory and the ability to read and write to a pc come in handy.

maybe if you look at those old joe horn shareware disks you'll find a use or two for yours. or not.


that use canned programs on them. i think that is what it is for

I think a programmable calculator is for using as calculator, for using shareware and for using your OWN programs.
RPL is not as dificult!(I'm not a genius;-)


(AND the User's guide explain the use of the DEL/CLEAR key. And the same behaviour has the DROP and the SWAP keys)


several of your points, i am inclined to agree. the 48 documentation is poor, and could be better. alas, this is the way now. the ti89 docs are worse. personally, i felt the 28c had considerably better docs for a rpl machine and indeed, the 28c build and style are rather nice. the extra alphabetic keys particularly. the 48 keyboard is cramped and many, quite usual functions (eg factorial) are buried away under menus or even sub-menus. the 48, i also found, woefully too slow. graphing would have been considerably improved if it were, say, 4 times faster.

on the plus side, i think its well built. the display is clear and buttons positive. the gx has adequate memory and some very cool stuff is available free to download and install (eg alg48 and that rather nice "java" stack interface - nothing to do with web java). if the 48 was built like a 28c, expandable and faster, i personally would have liked it a lot more. nevertheless, i dont regard the 48 as a failure. a collegue at work uses one every day and says he likes it and once you get used to it, its good.

in terms of competition, you do have to keep looking over your shoulder. this weekend i took a (brief) look at the casio fx4800p. quite a nice bit of kit. fast, spacious, easy to program (uses the fx4000p/7000g program style). all the expected programming features. nice display. 15 digits internal precision. not symbolic though... and i dont think it graphs. a friend with this machine is now thinking of selling his 32sii because, as he says, "all my handy programs i've keyed into this now and it works well. i dont need the hp anymore".


I actually sweated bullets about posting something highly editorial/controversial. Of course, some will disagree with me, wont like my closed-minded cave-man HP-34C attitude.

But it started a lot of replies.

I AGREE ABOUT SOMETHIGN... the fit & finish of the calculator itself is super. The big pixelated LCD display is a work of art, in terms of the hardware itself. The zipper case is solid, the box is a nice pretty shade of purple :o) and if they'd print the manuals in color they'd be OK too. This thing has the POTENTIAL to be a very fine unit. The factory spit out a beautiful thing for ONNLYY $115 . I mean it would cost $10,000.00 to manufacture something like that just 15 or 20 years ago.

But i dont like the way it operates, period.

I already got 3 inquiries in an hour about pricing to re-sell this 48G+

HEY if you guys can figure out how to IR link it to your computer, and download JAVA and Aplets and make it do streaming web browsing and email and all that, and edit the shapes of chemical molecules ("transparent aluminum") hey fine super have at it. Over here its just adding PSI loading to the subterranean foundation footings of my house.

And YES I think HP is absolutely blowing it in the calculator world. Take that approximate form factor,
and, you know, make a 34C out of it for us cavemen.
If they can sell some 48G+ fine. But maybe sell a simpler version to appease the primitive caveman buyer.
Cavemen buy calculators too. We calculate how hard to pull hair on woman to drag behind us (requires coefficient of friction, mass of woman, etc)

- Norm


Ya, the 48G series are nice calculators, but completely different from the older HP's. If you get the 48G with the mindset of operating a classic HP, you will definitely dislike it. Hey, I hated the 41C series when it first came out, with the hard-to-see, cheap looking LCD screen (compared to the LEDs), and functions that required a million keystrokes (XEQ, Alpha, blah blah blah blah, ALpha) and a lot of memorization.


P.S. What is VoidWare?


voidware is me talking bollox as usual and some pictures of calculators :-)


You've got to give an HP48 at least ten years before you give up on it. That's about how long I had my 48SX (and I had added a G along the way) before I spent some time with them in a period of inspiration and actually figured out how to use them. Possibly just because it has a serial port, there is a huge quantity of stuff you can download for it. (There is a lot of stuff for the 41, 71, 75 but no standard way to move it without a little effort.)

I think the 48's are the kind of thing that suffers from being too versatile (had to look that one up to make sure it had the intended meaning and it does: "having the capabilities of doing many different things; having many functions or uses").

I'm not sure the nail gun analogy is the best one - maybe the 48's are like a nice Kennedy tool box with lots of drawers and packed with many fine, carefully made tools. When you first get it, you find yourself opening one drawer after another trying to find the tool you need, which is frustrating. But if the tools you need are in there, in time you will learn where they are. In theory, you should be able to move your most often-used tools to the top compartment, with user key assignments. I'm real familiar with them on the 41C but not on the 48 ...


The top uses of the 48- beyond the basic scientific calc stuff you can do with a 20s or 32sii-

1: coding. algo testing, simulation, assembly- this is really one of the two all time great computer scientist calculators (the other being the 16C) you cna easily write and debug a lot of code on this. and it does translate.

2: field statistics. fantastic. in the lab or in a field situation it's far more useful to me than a laptop with a screen I can't see in the sunlight and a 2 hour battery life.

3: surveying. nuff said.

4: solver, graphing, and integration. Yeah, mathematica is great- and costs far more than my 48G. So- just call it scintific/engineering math. This is the area where people either seem to love it or hate it. *shrug*

5: PDA and games- actual handheld computer stuff. Remember that this came out at a period in time where a 286 laptop was too expensive for most people to buy. there were no palm pilots. and, IMO, it's still a very good handheld for most PDA functions.

(but yes, the typing sucks. to fix it, one could build a serial keyboard)


Certainly companies often err when they discontinue a model just because
they've come out with a model that has more "bells and whistles". I
still use a text editor even though my PC has a word processor that
could accomplish the job. Calculators without alpha and graphing
capabilities are still useful and in many cases preferable. I think that
there's room in the market for a very simple, low-cost, four-function
RPN model, a more advanced model with the features typically found on
"scientific" calculators, alphanumeric and graphing models and various
special-purpose and "in-between" models as well. Let's hope that some
company comes out with well-designed and well-built RPN models (or maybe
even just "resurrect" the better discontinued models) to take advantage
of the opportunities.

Many of us find the RPL models with their extra features to be very
useful. I don't always use the extra features on an RPL calculator, but
when I want them, I don't have to get another tool; the one that I have
with me already has them. Come to think of it, quite often when I run a
named program, I use some "extra features", hardly being aware that I'm
doing so. Complaining that the calculator can do more than one needs
often strikes me as being like a groom complaining that his bride is too

Let's not discard the nail gun just because we can pound a nail in with
a simple hammer. But if you don't need or even want a nail gun, then why
buy one? No one's ever twisted my arm to do so; I'm sure that a hardware
store would be happy enough selling me another hammer. If they stopped
making hammers, I expect that used hammers would remain available for a
long time.

And yes, those who decide what to put on the outside of a package or in
an advertisement generally do tend to depict the product "in the best
light". That shouldn't be any surprise to anyone.

Yes, the 48G series "guides", to put it kindly, leave a lot to be
desired (the 49G guides are even worse). Unfortunately, it seems that as
products get more complex and potentially more useful for more purposes,
the documentation that comes with them gets thinner and more simplistic.
Maybe they're trying to give the impression that using the product is so
intuitive that no instructions or reference information is needed. If
you want to put the 48G series to best use, you pretty well need extra
documentation such as the "Advanced User's Reference Manual" and
"third-party" books such as "Insights". Online resources such as,,
and the comp.sys.hp48 usenet newsgroup are also very helpful. Keep in
mind that information on the 48S series usually applies to the 48G
series as well. I'm glad that I had previous experience with the 28S and

I'm surprised that anyone would complain about being able to clear the
stack with a single keypress; don't the guides mention that? When no
command line or other editing environment is active, keys meant to be
used in a editing environment, such as CursorLeft, CursorRight, DEL, and
backspace do what's printed above them, CursorUp (with STACK above it)
gets you into the interactive stack, and CursorDown (with VIEW obove it)
puts you into the "best editor" environment for the object on level one.
In my opinion, this is very well thought out and useful, although I can
see that it might be a bit of a surprise to someone not familiar with
the calculator.

By the way, if you do manage to accidently clear the stack, then use the
last stack recovery operation, labelled "UNDO" on the 48G series.

But the choose boxes and input forms on the 48G series can be a bit too
much. I usually prefer the 48S series style menus (available with a
LeftShifted keypress).

And yes, I'd prefer to have the alphabet keys in QWERTY order instead of
alphabetical order, but that's a bit hard to do with only six columns of
keys. I've often thought that it may have been been better to have a
"horizontal" instead of a "vertical" form factor for the 48 and 49G. I
guess that the designers felt that the vertical form factor fit in the
hand better, and perhaps they were right.

Of course, if you really want a QWERTY keyboard, you could always
connect the 48 to your PC and use Kermit's remote host capability, but
then you'd probably be better served with a mathematics application on
the PC itself. But the idea of these calculators is that they're
handheld and very portable, and they're designed to be used primarily as
calculators, not as general purpose computers or PDAs. You could write a
letter on the 48, you could use it as a terminal emulator, and I think
that I've read that you can even use it as a web browser, but I wouldn't
recommend doing such things with it. When RPL calculators were
introduced, many of us didn't have a PC available, so these calculators
filled more of a need. Even now, I don't always have a PC available when
and where one would be useful. Also note that employers are often
extremely fussy about what they'll allow on their computers, but I've
never had one question my having and using my own "Personal Calculator"
on the job. I suppose that I could get one of those little touch-screen
PDAs (or whatever they're calling them now) and install a calculator
emulator on it, but I don't think that I'd like a calculator (or
computer) without real keys that I can feel with my fingertips.

Give the 48G+ a chance and approach it with the attitude that it was
probably designed as it was for good reasons, rather than with a hostile
"why didn't they design it just like the calculators that I'm familiar
with" attitude, and perhaps you'll learn to like it. But if you want to
get rid of the 48G+, I expect that eBay is the best way. Certainly they
usually go for more than I'd be willing to pay for yet another 48 series
calculator; I suspect that the ones that I already have will last longer
than I will.




Others have mentioned that there is a lot of software available for
downloading. True, but sometimes it's available in binary format only,
and I have a tendency to distrust a program that I don't have the source
code for; it doesn't always work as intended, and often the
documentation is poor. If it's written in SysRPL, assembly language, or
uses SYSEVAL, and has a bug, then there's a potential for a "Try To
Recover Memory?". Note the word "Try"; sometimes recovering memory isn't
successful, or only partially successful.

I'm not saying that you should never use a program or library that you
don't have the source code for (I often do so), but do at least take the
precaution of having a recent backup available just in case things don't
work out.

Usually, I prefer to write my own programs; it isn't that difficult and
you can do a lot even with just UserRPL.




For projects that require a lot of keying in, such as writing a fairly
long program, I prefer to write the source code file with a text editor
on the PC, if it's available. This has the advantage of the QWERTY
keyboard, more advanced editing operations, a bigger screen so I can see
more of the program, and comments and formatting that are lost when the
object is compiled are still available in the source code file.



I believe that a qwerty keyboard would classify the calc as a computer at some schools, making it forbidden. It's been a while since I've been to college, so the rules may have changed.

That said, I have to say that I WISH that the 48G was available while I was in engineering school!
It's a little much for adding up a few numbers, but we can not fault it for being too powerful.



I have 2 questions for NH:
1. Which one of the classic do you pick as the best?
2. Which calculators did you use in the past?


I don't mean to step on any toes, but Norm has made it very clear that he thinks the 34C is the best HP calculator. The Spices seem to be slighted for a couple of weak points, but I have also felt that the 34C is the best of the LED calculators without magnetic cards. I've never chimed in on the favorite calculator discussions because I've never been a very heavy calculator user (actually I am very heavy, but you know what I mean!) and I am just recently getting familiar with the calculators I have bought over the years, thanks largely to the Museum's resources. At this point, I tend to think the 41 family is the best, but my judgement is based more on the fun factor than actual performance!


Hello Chan,
in answer to your question, yes I prefer the HP-34C calculator, and that preference is for all types of general purpose casual computing. I prefer the display, the cosmetic appearances, and the feel of the keys. The 2 slide switches, which set the two most important "modes" of the calculator, are also very suitable.

I don't see 34C as any more sophisticated than what it is. I won't be trying to get it to do any graphs. What I see in 34C is an item that was VERY WELL THOUGHT OUT for what it is.

I trusted HP entirely and went to 32S due to being tired of
dealing with batteries and charging them. I bought 3 of them. Almost immediately, I found the item less intriguing to work with, it seemed cheap, the display dim & grey, and tedious to work with due to the extra menu's. The coloring of the unit is uninspired. ORANGE & BROWN what's that remind me of, maybe Halloween ? I kept the faith for 10 years however. The 32S does not age well, it gets dust into its display, the paint around the display chips, etc.
With the chaos erupting as HP discontinued the 32Sii, I re-evaluated carefully (thanks to HP Museum) and now I am buying HP-34C with confidence. I'm going backwards into time and none of you can stop me :o)

I have memories of the HP-25C being around, and they were
cute little items when first released, but the 34C has more capability and the best cosmetics.

The owner's manuals for the HP-34C are very good, color, as I was saying, and highly instructive. ("a voice from on-high", you know, authoritative and showing leadership, as it should be).

The graphing calculator concept is flawed. The screen is too small. If I want to do those sorts of things, I will purchase some commercial mathematics software and put it on my PC. Then i can enter equations and solve them abstractly, with a screen big enough to do that. I can graph on a relatively HUGE display, in full color, and
even have multiple windows, etc.

A calculator is small, and therefore it should do smaller things than a desktop computer. Above all, I seek products with a very clear vision of what they are, and where they are going.

For the 48G+ to work as a concept, it should be bigger, and have more buttons. Even the display is TOO SMALL for what they are trying to do. It's way smaller than a radio shack TRS-80 from around 1980 . Although I did something wild by putting up the loud editorial on the chat board, I am not a foolish person. Let me give you an example. I can see that the 48G+ should have sections of the keyboard that are divided up into these different areas of functionality. For example, the foundational "HP-34C" type of qualities should be sectored into an area of the keyboard. Then you can just run the thing without a lot of foolin' around. Another area can deal with the abstract math and symbolic formula entry.
And another area of the keyboard could deal with programs and downloads, etc etc. If they did that, the unit would start to make some sense, and each user could grow with it.

FACT: The HP calculators are not popular anymore. I chatted with a knowledgeable clerk at the college bookstore. She said the only thing that is popular with the students and professors is a "TI-86" graphing calculator. Even then, bet nobody really uses it for much. I think HP shot themselves in the foot really bad when they discontinued the 32Sii (the obvious ancestral descendent of the 34C).

EVER SEEN ONE OF THOSE CASIO KEYBOARDS and its got a bunch of "demo" buttons on it? You hit the "demo" button and it starts playing like crazy. And half the customers, they take it home, but they dont even know how to play it, so they just hit the "demo" button a few times, then forget about it. That's how I see the 48G+ . ESPECIALLY when I found those demo modes regarding plotting.

It gives me a number of sample plots. A sine-wave climbing linearly, a lissajou pattern, an ellipse. Whooopie tilt.
You coudl probably do that with a TRS-80 a full 25 years ago, and you'd have a better graphic display. (I'm completely sarcastic here, because I know what a hunk of junk is a TRS-80).

ANYWAY you asked me my story & situation, so there it is.


- Norm


Thank you Norm for answering my questions. The HP25 was my first calculator and I liked it very much but with limited battery life it was a pain. Also, without a card reader or continuous memory it was not very useful as a programable calculator. I later bought the 34C (after I broke my 25) for a week. I did like it well but exchanged it for the 41C then CV and CX. I bought the 48SX and then GX when they were introduced. I have a 97 later on and did have a 28C for a number of years.
The 48 is not a perfect calculator but if I only can have 1 calculator I would have to pick the 48. Like the 41 it has long battery life and a way to permanently store program.
I agree the graphing feature is not neccesary or useful.


Have you tried a 15C?

No leds, but long battery life, the same blue/gold colors that 34c, and much more RAM for programs.
For me, is the best. (Leaving my 48GX apart, of course ;-)

Best regrads.



Thanks for mentioning the hp-15C.

I have every high regard for that calculator.
Knowing it is quite close to the 34C and 32S
not sure why I never reached for it.

At the time, I was still quite busy my 34C.

I see 15C as similar, sort of a 'me too' item
but I totally understand that if you are familiar
with it, no need to stop using it.

What's quite highly offensive is that HP still
makes one flavor of the 15C, but for the
business school (12C ??) . It's for financial
work. BUT even though they make the exact
same unit, very much the same as 15C (meaning
they have all the circuit boards and all the plastic)
they dont keep making the 15C alongside of it.

That is beyond any justification of any kind, just showing favoritism to the Wall Street types. Apparently it got so entrenched on Wall Street that it is still the standard to this day, sort of like how billionaires only drive around in "Bentley" cars. So why should they get to have a classic calculator kept as production but we dont get any brand new 15C calculators kept as production.

If 15C were available new i might grab one. Not ready to pursue it on a used-market basis.

And i do prefer the RED LED calculators. I'm getting really intoxicated with that clear crisp glow. Who could've imagined, back in 1980, that the first units would be the best units. LCD pretty dim, pretty dull.


Are you confusing favoritism with supply and demand?

//That is beyond any justification of any kind, just showing favoritism to the Wall Street types. Apparently it got so entrenched on Wall Street that it is still the standard to this day, sort of like how billionaires only drive around in "Bentley" cars. So why should they get to have a classic calculator kept as production but we dont get any brand new 15C calculators kept as production.//


I have a theory that the financial people would like to keep RPN to themselves - gives them an air of superiority - and in support of my theory, all I can offer is that the financial people in any company (like HP) have a lot of influence over what products will be produced.

Massimo found what looks like an RPN financial calculator made by an Asian company, Aurora. See his post:

In case that post was swept into the archives and isn't available from here, this is the website linked by that post:

Look at model FN1000 - programmable, financial, no "=" key, what looks like an "enter" key on the lower right corner. I wonder if it is an HP12C clone? Note the yellow and blue shift keys.


Hello Jon,

To answer your question:


There is no such confusion, in the earlier comment that was written by yours truly.

- Norm


James, I believe that a qwerty keyboard would classify the calc
as a computer at some schools, making it forbidden. It's been a while
since I've been to college, so the rules may have changed.

Good point. This may have influenced the design decisions. For
non-students, a qwerty keyboard would be nice. But I think that to be
successful in this field, the manufacturer has to keep students as well
as non-students in mind. People will tend to stick with something
similar to what they're familiar with when they make a new purchase. And
for advanced calculators, it may be that more are purchased for students
than for non-students anyway.

The "Rules" are often arbitrary and don't always apply common sense.
What, besides a pencil, paper, and his mind, a student should be allowed
to use, is a good question. There are some things that he has to have
thoroughly learned and kept in memory, but after all, when he finishes
school, he will, at least some of the time, have reference materials,
calculators, and computers available, and be able to discuss problems
with others, so trying to memorize *everything* is a waste of time and
effort and counter-productive. I certainly never attempted to memorize
tables such as trig or log tables, and although I learned to extract
square roots with pencil and paper back in grade school, I'd have to
look that method up to use it now. I remember one person who had several
sheets with lots of formulas derived from the law of sines that he felt
he just had to memorize; he didn't do very well in trigonometry.

But it must be difficult to define just exactly what a device must have
and be capable of doing to be classified as a "computer". After all, I
suppose that one could learn to type just fine with the keys in a
non-qwerty arrangement.

At work, we once had a nifty little gadget designed for handling
statistical process control (it actually printed and drew using a tiny
four-color plotter). I always had trouble typing in the alpha characters
on that thing, and at first assumed that it was because the keys were so
tiny. But I noticed that one of my co-workers could type on it faster
than I could, and much faster than he could type on a regular qwerty
keyboard, where he used the "hunt and peck" method. So then I realized
that the main reason that I found it difficult was that the alpha keys
were in alphabetical order, even though they were arranged in three
rows, so I had to "hunt and peck" through the alphabet. But for him,
having the keys in alphabetical order made them much easier to find.

And now there are those little touch-screen devices. I'd probably call
them computers, even though they don't have keyboards. And devices
capable of wireless connections that could cover the whole classroom
(and beyond). I suppose that new technology must cause some
consternation to the rule-makers. Maybe forbid anything that uses
electricity? But then they'd have to go back to using slide rules or
tables. Makes me glad that I'm not an instructor.



First of all, let me say that I appreciate simplicity. (Heck, I still keep slide rules around for quick calculations and even carry one in my pocket). But I don't think the 48 is overly complicated for what it's designed to do. True, there's a lot of study and practice necessary to use all of its capabilities, and personally I'm still a lot more comfortable with RPN than with RPL. Most calculator programming I do is of the "do it right now, no time to plan it carefully, just throw something together and see if it works" variety. Anything more complex usually is reserved for a "real" computer. My 41CX is perfect for that sort of thing. But for running canned software I love my 48GX. I use it daily for all sorts of things that other people use a PDA for -- keeping up with phone numbers, appointment calendar, notepad, etc. Plus it's nice for filling an odd moment or two with Tetris or Sokoban. With good math software (like Erable) I can play around with algebra or calculus in a coffeeshop or at the library without carrying a laptop with me. The graphing capabilities help me quickly check my son's homework without having to draw the graphs myself. (I'm much more verbally than visually oriented, so I usually have to graph an equation on paper rather than just "seeing it in my head" like many people can do.)

Sometimes I wish it was smaller and lighter. The 41 beats it handily there, as well as in simplicity of operation and keystroke programming. But for early '90s technology the 48 is pretty good. I still like a 4-level stack, and especially the T-register, but sometimes an infinite stack is nice too. If I accidentally clear it (which happens occasionally) then UNDO brings everything right back again. (Of course, as a UNIX sysadmin, I'm accustomed to powerful and dangerous commands -- without the luxury of UNDO!)

One more thing: I'm certainly no fan of Carly. (In fact, I keep hoping Walter Hewlett eventually can dig up some hard evidence of vote-rigging or bribery in the Compaq merger and then we might get to see Carly do some jail time.) But whatever you think of the 48 series, you can't blame (or give credit to) Carly for it. One of the principal people behind the 48 was Bill Wickes. Dr. Wickes was a very well-known user back in the PPC Journal days and was a major player in the development of synthetic programming for the HP-41. His interest and expertise with HP calculators lead him to a job with HP and he became the "father of the 48" (and the 28 before that). The other people on the 48 design team were part of the "old" HP too, before the coming of the Carlyites, and many of the 48's features were based on things suggested by users from the PPC years. Many people thought the new design departed too far from the 41 and its predecessors, but most of the new features came from engineers and enthusiatic users, not from marketing types. Your 48G+ has more memory, but otherwise is the same as the 48G that's been available for years.

The bottom line for me is I wouldn't give up either my 48GX or my 41CX (or, for that matter, my 16C). Each is suited to particular tasks and I use them wherever appropriate.


>If somebody actually LIKES 48G+ (like, a crazy man or somebody in the mental asylum or something)

I LIKE HP-48GX ... it is the best calculator ever made. I have three of them (all with 128K + 2048K RAM cards) as well as HP-48G+, HP-49G and HP-48G expanded to 1280K.

But to use them, you have to know them ... I am sick of negative comments about HP-48GX/G+/G/SX/S calculators from people who don't know anything about them.

Just 0.01 EUR from someone who is (obviously) crazy or in mental asylum (whatever does it mean). And NO, I don't want to buy your HP-48G+.


My $0.02,

I like the Hp48G series, all things considered. I do not like their large size, but that is my only real gripe. No, I don't need or use the graphics, and I actually prefer an Hp42s, but I often need units conversions of every sort, and the 48g has nearly every conceivable one.

The 48 series is actually easier to program than a 15c (which is similiar to your 34c). It can be more complex also, but it can be used as a simple keystoke progammable, just like the earlier Hp's. I for one feel Hp should always have a flagship calculator, for bragging rights and for the individual who wants ALL the BELLS and WHISTLES.

But I don't think you will ever get more than a handful of people to go back to LED technologie. I use a 33c on my desk for fondnes and nostalgia, but I would not trust it for more than a couple hours of use away from a wall socket, ie meetings or field work. And I program a few small quick and dirty programs for my 33c, but these programs displace each other vs on a 48, they get to complement each other. I admit a 34c does have more memory here, but you are still limited only a few programs are you not?

The 48 also allows me to tap into a much larger library of programs without any real pain or effort of keying them in by hand. Just load them onto the 48G. That is one of its greatest strengths.


"This is the conclusion that I draw. If i missed something, somebody let me know."

You missed a lot of things, I will break it down for you.

"I SIMPLY REGARD THE PRODUCT AS ATROCIOUS. I welcome any contrary view, BUT MEANWHILE, what I see is this thing is just set up to razzle-dazzle you, intimidate you, then sit in the box and never be used."

I disagree. I use mine efficiently every day at school and many days at home. Most of the time, I use the basic scientific functions, and about 10% of the time, I use something fancy like unit conversions or the Constant Library. You didn't bother to learn about that stuff, did you?

"All you have to do is hit the "DEL" button and it clears the whole stack. This is absurd. it's not even labelled "Clear". You would clear your stack by accident creating considerable frustration. This is absurd."

If you had bothered to read the Quick Start Guide, (not a whole lot of work) you would know that when you are NOT entering or editing a line of the stack, the stack functions automatically perform the purple shift functions labeled above. This is simple operator error. No one is dumb for gradually improving the design over the years. Have you ever heard the acronym 'RTFM'? Read the F------ Manual. If you had only read the Quick Start Guide, you would be well on your way.

"In the 48G+ after taking, cumulatively, one day to study it, I see a thing that is useless, and devised purely to waste my time. I could invest months of study and still not get hardly anywheres with it."

Then you're either very closed-minded or very slow on the uptake. After one day of studying it myself, I knew all the basics and could probably utilize about 30% of what it can do. (which is about 170% of what a 34C can do, in my way of reckoning...)

"BECAUSE unlike a marketer, I am equipped with a thinger called a "brain", all of a sudden the light bulb goes off ("eureka, idea!") and I say "either I would buy the mathematical software package and run it on my PC, OR, I would use the classic numerical calculator. This graphing product is a malicious attempt to waste my time, and I dont even want it in my house". By tossing it out of my life, I can get back to legitimate work tasks, quite likely using a nice classic calculator as I go about my business. But the key is, I go back to attending to my business, rather than wasting my time with this pathetically devised 48G+."

Here is something that perhaps you didn't consider. What if you're at work, and you would just like to see something graphed quick and dirty style. Let's say your employer doesn't let you install your own choice of software on your work computer. It would be an easy matter to do a quick bar graph or scatter plot. What if you're student, and you just need to get an idea of what a function looks like during a test? "Hold on, professor, while I go and get my laptop. What? I can't use a laptop on exams? But Norm said I could just fire up Matlab!!??"

You knew from the start that you like the vintage HP LED calculators the best. I think you tried an LCD model after that, then came here and started whining. All the newer ones suck, all the older ones are great and all that jazz. After all that, you bought a 48G+ and proceeded to complain about that one too. Why didn't you learn after the first one?

The whole attitude of your post is one of someone who has already decided how things should be, and how dare anyone ever change them in some crazy scheme to improve. Let me get this straight: because YOU accidentally deleted the stack, it is a bad idea to have that feature so easily accessible? I would think that if you had spent a few hours reading the Quick Start Guide, you would know that ahead of time. At any rate, now you have learned your lesson and you won't do it again. Problem solved. Isn't it a bit easier to just adjust your mind a bit than to ruin a design that seems to work so well for so many engineers and engineering students?

What it comes down to is this: If you want to use a 48 to its full capacity, you have to dedicate more than one day to it. If you're not willing to do that, either don't buy one or just use it for the basics. I am the type of person who likes to use his stuff to the fullest. However, I'm quickly realizing that it's not going to happen, since the 48 does so much. I'm learning to live with the fact that if I can only get 50% out of it, I'm still WAY ahead of the game.

Here's my real defense of it. I bought my 48G on eBay for $40. My thanks goes out to someone like you who got intimidated by it and thought it was poorly conceived. Even if I only use it as a basic RPL (not RPN, mind you) scientific calculator and ignore all the fancy features, it is worth $40. The screen is great, you can see 4 levels of the stack at once. They keypad is great too. (just my opinion) I have a 45 with the old-school keypad, so I'm no stranger to a Classic HP keypad or the Classic LED display. Actually, the new ones are built to tighter tolerances. If you pick up a 48 and shake it, nothing rattles. Try that with your classic and at the very least, the keys all rattle around. The battery pack might move a bit too...

Yes, there are some drawbacks, as you pointed out. But there are many improvements which you have totally brushed off. It is a shame, because there are features that you could probably use that you will never discover because you gave up so easily. It is almost like you made up your mind before you bought it. I can hear it now: "If I can't learn to use everything in one day, and with very little effort, it's CRAP!"

There is another possibility too though... Maybe you're trying to reinforce your relationship with your 34C by buying newer and totally different HPs and systematically denouncing them? That is fine. I am really happy for you since you have found a calculator that you love so much. Why don't you just stick with it then? You have already decided that it is the best for you, so why make it so hard on yourself?

Now I will say it again, the 48 series is not for everyone. I think probably about 1% of the HP48 owners out there can use it to its fullest. Some people will give up easily, when they realize it has no = key. Some people will become master programmers on it but never learn to use unit conversions. Some people just want a scientific calculator with a great display. To each his own.

I have reread this, and I hope it doesn't come out too hostile. I'm not trying to start some kind of flame war on an obscure calculator forum. I'm just defending my baby with as much enthusiasm as you have attacked it with. ;)

Background: I bought a tired 45 and fixed it up first. I love that thing. The charm of the LEDs, the clunkiness and ruggedness of the keys, the whole package. Next, I bought a 48G. I used it on an Advanced Communications test and the constants library saved my bacon. I had no idea he assumed we memorized the charge of an electron. If I had only my trusty hp45, I would have been up the creek. Next, I bought a 32SII, which I think you might have had too. It is nice because its thin and light compared to the 48. It will do as a basic scientific calculator. But it still pales in comparison to the 48G in terms of features. If you don't need those features, it is true that the 48G is overkill. But even so, a 32SII is going for $100-200 and the 48G is going for $35-55. Wouldn't it make more sense to buy a 48G if your money was tight? Luckily, I'm not one of those poor suckers (hehehe) that has to make do with just one calculator. I also have a TI85, which I enjoy using tooo. Sometimes, I will even go back to my vintage TI-30. (LED) There are +s and -s to each one, and when one of them gets to me, I just switch and be happy. I advise you to do the same. If it is THAT bad, and there is simply no room in your collection for such a fine machine, then sell it with no regrets. But when the day comes when you need a feature you don't have on your trusty 34C, you might feel just a twinge of regret. A few years ago, I bought my first hp, a 48GX. It was during the middle of a school term, and I couldn't spare the time to learn how to use it. So I sold it on eBay for almost what I paid for it and went back to my TI-85, cursing HPs name. Now that I have a bit more time and will to learn, I'm glad to be back in the family. I can use that TI-85 like an extension of my hand. Sadly, I will probably never achieve that level of mastery with my HP48G. On the other hand, I have been using the TI-85 since Algebra II in high school (1992) so to be fair, I should give the 48 another 8 years or so to catch up... Yes, it does suck that the learning curve is so slow, but it has been worth it so far. When I'm done with college, I might not need any fancy bells and whistles, at which point i will switch back to my 32SII or 45. Variety is the spice of life, Norm. ;)



Ah, my same thoughts, more or less!
A PC is much easier to use, you can communicate what you do
easily, integrate the results in other documents, it is way ahead. And now, with laptops at $1000...
A true calculator (32SII, 42S), is way faster to use
for normal calculations (try to do the equivalent
of a STO A on the HP 48; how many keystrokes?
And how intuitive? Come on!)
I have a 48GX, but it's basically a deadweight in a
drawer. I haven't sold it because I don't need
the money now, but maybe I should, just to free up
the space - I mean, I never ever use it...

Maybe I am spoiled because I have more PCs, laptops, etc
(due to work) than I care for, but certainly all those
PCs don't make my 32SII less useful...



To paraphrase DeBeers, "An HP is forever."

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