The low popularity of the HP-34C.


The HP-34C scored quite low on the popularity score.

This is not because it isn't the best calculator on Earth, since of course, it is. :o)

However, the unpopularity is for a different reason.
It's because it was sold in-between the 25C and the 41C .

Even though it is the best looking unit, with a nicely coordinated set of colors, including multi-color keys,
and its got the RED LED's and it is an extremely logical layout, it seems that the 34C was sold right after a time-period where many buyers had already gotten the 25C.
Those buyers had already parted with all their money and had to use their 25C calculators, because they could not afford to purchase again and get a 34C.

Then, the 41C began to be sold even as the 34C was just getting into gear. Even though the 41C isn't the best calculator (because 34C is best) people bought the 41C because they wanted extra features and extra programming capabilities, and to have something so complicated they would never figure out how to use it.

Therefore the 25C and the 41C created a lot of division of the flow of money and the demand, for the 34C.

This "in-between 25C / 41C" is what made the 34C relatively un-popular.

It happens that I was going thru high school and getting read to buy a calculator, at exactly a time-period when it was too late to buy a 25C, but the 41C was not seen to be widely available (and may have been far more money).

Hence I was naturally introduced to the 34C due to the ideallic time at which I happened to be ready to buy something. I can still remember digging thru photographic
'discount' advertisements at the back of magazines, and looking for the lowest price from the camera sharks back in New York.

Therefore I dont have to undo any errant brainwashing that the 34C is NOT the best one, and and I prefer it and consider myself lucky to have needed a calculator at exactly that time, so that I just naturally received the best calculator ever made w/o even having to think twice about it.

The RED LED's are so much nicer than the LCD of the 41C
(although some insist on focusing on outdoor sunlit computational situations, like field engineers or petroleum engineers, where obviously the 41C would be preferred.
I would rather carry around a 34C and a black folding umbrella, than a 41C of course.

A boxed-34C just sold on eBay at a very high price ($273). Since the 34C was unpopular by the poll, then it says that all those eager bidders didn't really like the unit. My interpretation, then, is that all those eager bidders were collector/packrats, unlikely to use the unit for its inspired and timeless beauty.

Fortunately, being free of any close-minded biases, excessively strong opinions, or erroneous consideration that any calculator other than 34C is best, then I can use it (and promote it) w/o any restraint .

Best looking little calculator on God's Green Earth.


> However, the unpopularity is for a different reason. It's because it was sold in-between the 25C and the 41C .

So did the HP-67 and 97. And even in spite of their (much) higher price, they sold quite well.

There's got to be a different explanation. Of course, one presents itself almost immediately: the sample used for the poll is too small to be statistically significant. But this conjecture I leave as an exercise for those forum members who know Statistics better than I do -- and that includes almost every one. 8^)



The sample size is absolutely perfect. The poll was not...

"What is the most popular calculator for all people of all time.

It was "What is the most popular calculator, of those that can read this post."

Given that, the sample size is perfect.

The reason the 34C scored so low is because many people have many calculators. The 34C was a piece of junk, interms of how long it would last. Contacts would break rendering it a piece of junk. I must have had 30 of this series and over half had corroded or broken contacts.

The other issue is "age." How many voting were even around for the 67. They probably never owned one, as a user. Many of us have used every one of those calculators. But many others aren't old enough to have used them all :-) So, there is a bias in that respect.

I'll run another poll that asks the age of those voting and participating in this poll.

We shall see.


>The sample size is absolutely perfect. The poll was not...
>"What is the most popular calculator for all people of all
>It was "What is the most popular calculator, of those that
>can read this post."

No, it was "What is the most popular calculator, of those that can read this post, given only this list of calculators from which to choose."



The response that I gave was with respect to the sample size, as an explanation as to why the 34C was not as popular, as the others.

Adding other calculators to the list (your agrument), doesn't make the 34C more popular. There is no way that a larger list, could be the explanation.


But a smaller list could be!


The 29c/19c probably come into play there as well, as do the TI58/59 and later 58c. Personally I had just bought a 29c in late 1977 for the 195 plus tax along with the TI58 and Commodore M-55, and noted with interest the spice series when released and expanded, but could not justify with what I had, with money reasonably tight then anyway at 2.50/hr. Same with the 41c when it was first released, however it was much more tempting so I put it in my procurement plans for the next year when I'd be working as an engineer full time, though did not get around to buying so the next bought back in the early 80's was the 15c. Having had the spice series later, I noted they represented a cheaper construction/cost reduction than the woodstocks, though had desirable expanded functionality.


Hello, Norm,; my regards to Captain Zener!

I used and programmed the HP34C when I was studying at the university (E.E.) and the HP34C had his popularity, it was and will be a powerful calculator.

I just think you forgot two other characters in this plot: TI58C and TI59. Their price and available resources, together with the "WYSIWYG" AOS, made them rule for long time. And the HP34C "shared" part of his success with these two, too; they also share part of the same existing "era".

I have been using an HP34C for a few days and I saw that it actually uses less power than the other spices. I also compared (at least this unit's) LED's brightness and found it a bit lower than others I could put side by side. Is it a fact? While an HP38C with the same batteries (NiCad 700 mAh, from Gama Power) "wanted some more" once, the HP34C is being used a bit more (I'm trying some routines on it) and did not stop for resting so far. Would it be a better power management? I don't think so, it seems their P.S. unit is the same.

Well, looking at the HP25C, the HP34C has plenty more. Even if we compare it with the HP29C. In time: the HP29C is a must! I think the HP29C as the one that lost place for another HP calculator, the HP67.

When I was about to buy my first HP41C (with one memory module) I was offered an HP34C for about half the price and three-years warranty (from the local shop). I declined. Not because I wanted extra features and extra programming capabilities, and to have something so complicated they would never figure out how to use it, but because I wanted low-power consumption and no need to plug it in an AC outlet to recharge batteries for ten to twelve hours so I could barely use it for 3 to 4 hours before plugging it again. I wanted to use a calculator I would not care for batteries till it showed me the BAT annunciator and give me 'bout a month or two to replace them. ALPHA is a nice feature, too, and sometimes helps a lot, mostly when it allows a program to be used without a written/printed procedure. And I must confess: I use calculators under plenty of light, I like reading, writing and studying while using them. LED displays are hard to read under, let's say, sunlight. Well, my own preference. When we're ate the office under "regular" light conditions, LED's or LCD's are just a matter of preference.

It took me a long time to actually get acquainted with all HP41 features described in the Owner's Handbook. I mastered all of them because I wanted to know about them all. Except for the ALPHA features and memory requirements in some very specific cases, everything else can be done in an HP34C, considering a few operation limits.

I like the HP34C and I can tell that because now I have one and I'm using it. But for me its greatest opponents are the HP15C and the HP11C because of their similarities: keystroke programming, program listings with keycodes, numerical solve and integration (15C only), flags, subroutine calls, key-touch execution (A to E labels), gamma function, and a few others. For me, the HP15C is a plenty enhanced HP34C and the HP11C is an HP34C without solve and integrate. In the particular case of the HP11C, both have the same amount of memory. and of course they are "virtual" opponents because they lived in different eras.

Based on this all I tell you that each one that selected the HP11C or the HP15C as preferred calculators have implicitly chosen the HP34C, because this would be their choice if we are talking about this, let's say, twenty years ago.

I wrote too much.

I'm expecting comments, agreements and disagreements as well.

Best regards, Norm, folks.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil



I agree 100%. All the time I subscribed to Key Notes, HP was always pushing the 41+++. And maybe rightfully so. After putting out all the cash for the 67 I never did buy one. But I must say that the 41++ must be the most sucessful and most popular of all the HP calculators.



The poll did not show that the HP-34C has low popularity. It just showed that few people consider it as the best calculator. It could be quite popular in its time as it represented a good compromise between features and cost. I bought one in 1979 as the replacement for my broken 25. At $150 it was less than the 25 I bought in 75. I thought it offered significantly more capablities at the cost of somewhat poorer quality than the Woodstock series. I did not experience any problem, however, as I only had it for one week before I returned it for full credit toward the HP-41C which was a $300 calculator. I don't want to elaborate but at the time it was very clear to me that either the HP-67,HP-97 or the HP-41C was a better calculator than the HP-34C. I think the only reason one would buy the 34C was because of its price.


You might be right, Chan. Maybe the main reason people bought the 34C was price.

The 34C was cheaper, and at the time, it was definitely
all I could afford, so I fit right into your theory.

I remember people saying how much the 41C cost them and I would just roll my eyeballs because i could not afford that.

But I also recall liking the simplicity and straightforward layout of the 34C, focusing on numbers, and actually not containing any alphanumeric qualities.

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