Norm and guys: about Spices, "2" disease and...


Hey Norm, guys;

a few days ago I mentioned I'd be with two Spices in hands for some "transplantation" experiences. It happens that my brother and I have both an HP38E each. I asked him to bring his unit when comming for the regular weekend's "family meeting" and what I wanted to do. Guess what: he brought it!

He is a lawyer and he seldom uses it, but likes it because of its design. He does not like RPN and cannot understand how come a calculator does not have an [=] key! In fact he knows how to use it, but he prefers an HP14B he has and does not give up on the HP38E anyway! I'm trying to take it but he resists doing business...

His HP38E is a "sandwich" type like mine, but... both of ours have the same behavior: the "2" disease. I was almost sure his HP38E was not "infected".

What good would it be exchanging chips so far? Anyway, I'm just pointint out two situations, one of them is just to remember.

I had two HP31E in hands, one solderless and the other with soldered chips. The solderless one did not have the "2" disease and the soldered one did, opposingly to what is expected. Also I had the chance to test two HP38C, also different in costruction, and both showed the same behavior: no blinking 2's while inputing data.

I am posting this because I do not think solderless Spices are the only ones to show the blinking "2" behavior. I called it the "2" disease for fun, I don't take it as a disease.

If you want to test and verify what I call a strange behavior, find a "revision E" 82104A (HP41's card reader)and plug it in your HP41 as usual. To check if your card reader is one of this type, execute [CAT] 2 and wait till the display shows

 [CRD RDR 1x ]
where x is the revision. If x is equal to G or superior, this will not happen. If it is anything below E or also if it is F, I cannot say it's true. Well, it's a good time for testing, right?

Now execute any function that asks for three digits, like:

[SIZE] _ _ _ 
[GTO][.] _ _ _
[DEL] _ _ _
[LIST] _ _ _ (if you have a printer)

Type only two of the three expected digits and press [<-] two times to remove them. Let's say you did this:

[XEQ] [ALPHA] SIZE [ALPHA] [2][3] [<-][<-]

You'll see:

[2       SIZE]

To remove this weirdness from the display you should press any key EXCEPT [<-].

Weird, isn't it? I consider this a bug because the system freezes; it does not crash because there's no need to remove batteries so the calculator resumes normal operation and none of the operations involved is programmable. This is a firmware "disease" that was corrected later.

Well, I think that's all for now. I'd be thanked if someone knows any inforamtion about reader versions with this firmware problem and can share with us all

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieria - Brazil

Edited: 21 June 2003, 10:41 p.m.


Hi Luiz,

Well, we can't do the experiment until later... but we can

still do it. Wait until it is easy to swap the firmware
chips between two calculators, see if the problem is in the firmware.

Luiz wrote:

> The solderless one did not have the "2" disease and

the soldered one did, opposingly to what is expected.

That is really wild information. I would not have expected that. There is STILL an explanation (maybe) . Maybe HP was very, very disorganized in the way they produced these machines. We idolize them, naturally, BUT maybe they were a bunch of screw-ups. That is, maybe they would accidentally keep re-releasing an old version of the firmware, and so every once in awhile a bunch of the "2 disease" firmware chips was released, OR, maybe they programmed a million of them, and now and then they found a boxful in the warehouse, and they would put them into service.

So what I'm speculating is that engineering knew about the problem and they fixed it, BUT, production periodically would build the earlier revision, and engineering gave up on production building the right itme. It's possible... very very possible that they were that disorganized. The absolute opposite of "ISO9000" if you know what that is nowadays.

I AM GRATEFUL for this updated information about "2 disease" and I think we still need to prove, once and for all, whether "2 disease" is something in the firmware chip.

Thanks Luiz, - Norm


If x is equal to G or superior, this will not happen. If it is anything below E or also if it is F, I cannot say it's true. Well, it's a good time for testing, right?

Confirmed: this bug is present in rev. 1E and not in revv. 1F and 1G.

My CRs are from these revisions only, cannot test for earlier or later units.

Well done Luiz!



I have 2 card readers.

The "CAT 2" only shows "CARD READER" how do you find the version number?

The units are 2024S & 2007A

They don't have the bug so I guess they are later versions.



Hi, Chris;

their serial number suggest they are very earlier units, dated 1980. As they do not have revision id. and based ontheir serial #, they probably have the first firmware. I remember I saw an 82104A that showed this header after [CAT] 2. I know it because its owner asked me to see what was going on with it: no card pulling. I opened it and saw gum in the middle of the card pulling gear. I was not aware about that at that time (80's) and I told him I was not able to repair. Anyawy I tested it and clearly remember seeing [CARD READER ] instead of [CARD RDR 1x } in the display. My card reader's serial # is 2712Sxxxxx and its firmware is a G-revision. Also, my 82143A (printer) shows [-PRINTER- ] after [CAT] 2 is executed, no revision ID, and its serail # is 2141Sxxxxx. As far as I know and have used, I identified no bug in regular use. The HPIL printer functions' header is [PRINTER 2x ] and the 82242A IR printer module for the HP41 has [PRINTER 3x ] as header.

Is there any other information about modifications and upgrades in HP41's peripheral devices and extensions? I know some ROM had updated versions, and the only application ROM (programs instead of functions) I know that was updated and had a remark in teh HP Key Notes was teh Financial Decisions Pack. At least one of the programs was modified in [FINANCE 1C] and the modification was present in [FINANCE 1D ]. I also read that MATH ROM had some radical upgrades with XROM number modification. This is something I don't understand why... Well. now it's history, we can only track and identify.

Best regards.

Luzi C. Vieira - Brazil

Edited: 22 June 2003, 4:52 p.m.


I also have an early unit (serial 2025A) which shows CARD READER when CAT 2 is run but it does have the bug - wierd.


Ok, I tried this test again and my 41CX unit with the 2024S CARD READER does exhibit this bug. I must have done something wrong the first time I tried it.

But my 41C with the 2007A CARD READER doesn't exhibit the bug.

I tried the test a few times too. Maybe it depends on what unit the reader is connected to, seeing as SIZE is a 41 function and not a card reader function(shrug)?



Just had another go with my 2025A serial card reader - I get the bug on all my 41s (2 fullnut CVs serials 2120S and2147S and a halfnut CX serial 2819S)


... that this firmware version "tries to answer" or wrongly answers a system call when this sequence happens, so the system crashes.

Just a guess that would justify the calculator (as a system) behavior. Any attachment/device may interfere in the whole process, I think.

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil

Edited: 23 June 2003, 5:54 p.m.

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