The folly of dual data-entry modes


Most people prefer a single data-entry mode (RPN or ALG). Why would any individual customer want a calculator that has both modes available?

This dual entry mode approach is nothing but a bad compromise on HP's part to try and appeal to all users and keep manufacturing and distribution costs low. Unfortunately, this approach is going to annoy HP's customers and create additional costs.

Imagine this: You are working on a complicated problem and you reach for your new HP dual data-entry calculator. You turn it on. Can you get to work immediately on your problem? No, because there is something you must do first. You must mentally set aside your work, however briefly, and check to make sure the calculator is in your preferred data-entry mode. This may not sound like much but it has to be done each and every time you turn on your calculator; day after day, month after month, year after year.

I predict failure for HP's dual data-entry mode approach. I would compare using one of these calculators regularly to going on a long walk with a permanent pebble in your shoe.

The additional costs will come when an ALG mode user inadvertently sets RPN mode and then contacts HP customer service because his calculator has gone haywire and doesn't work anymore. Does HP really want to deal with this?

The CORRECT approach for HP is to offer each calculator in its line-up in two versions: Permanent RPN mode and permanent ALG mode. For example, offer an HP-12CP RPN and a separate HP-12CP ALG and let the customer choose.


You obviously have NEVER used a HP with both RPN/Alberaic entry. You set the mode once when you get the calculator out of the box and it stays that way.

If you need to soft-reset the calc, [ ON ]&[F3 C], the mode reverts to Algebraic (and some other flags will be reset to default, too), BUT, you can have a STARTUP program at Home: << myflags STOF >>, which will set them back (as long as you have done RCLF 'myflags' STO). Naturally you can put more stuff on that STARTUP.

In case you loose *all* your RAM, you can RESTORE you latest ARCHIVE from the User Flash "RAM". After that you boot and the STARTUP will kick in restoring your flags. So there you go!

NOW: Do you have other issues that worry you? Regards, VPN


I just tested an 'ON-C' warm boot on my HP-49G+ and it does not revert to algebraic mode. However I did notice one other undesired effect, it seems to detach any libraries attached to the HOME directory. This is something which the previous models, i.e. HP-48GX & HP-49G, did not do. Can someone confirm this behavior?


After further testing, an 'ON-C' does detach libraries attached to the HOME directory but not any attached to a sub-directory, which is the same as on the earlier HP-49G. Neither calculator reverts to algebraic mode.


Edited: 29 Sept 2003, 5:59 p.m.


I agree in general; however, as covered in another note, the NCEES seems to be moving toward providing one type of calc for their exams, with this calc capable of either logic (pretty much narrows the field to those itty-bitty-Enter machines).

Given an announcement down the road that NCEES will only use a dual logic Calc X from Bad Calc Corp for exams, how many engineering students would opt for something else?

As I noted earlier, maybe HP's new approach is designed to allow their calcs to be used both in current programs with algebraic-only text book chapters, as well as in the NCEES-type environments.


I am not convinced.

Imagine, there exists an HP-nnGX2plus(RPN) _and_ an HP-nnGX2plus(ALG), you drive downtown to get one, drive back home to see you got inadvertently the HP-nnGX2plus(ALG) but wanted the HP-nnGX2plus(RPN). You can't change that by phone call.

To realy lower costs (on both sides) how about this vision:
There is only one basic calculator (pocket sized, one-thumb operatable even by a one-armed salesman, like the
and homologous) and the functionality of your choice you choose from internet, test it in a emulator on your PC and transfer it by USB to the real device. You could even "build" a RPN scientific with TVM capability <G>.



I agree with your assessment of the dual mode of the HP-49. I used to be a great fan of the HP-48 and often recommended it to my students and offered help sessions on the calculator. But with the advent of the dual mode and the temporary disappearance of HP from the calculator scene, I gave up on them. It was just too much to ask when a student shows up for help to try to take into account their mode preference. Seems to me a solution would be to make two OS available via a flash memory installation, one for us RPN fans, and another for the rest.


I do not agree. Not at all. In fact, I can't see the problem here. Why should it be bad to allow the user to make his / her choice on the device of his / her preference?

Not to mention that, once you'd want to sell your calc, you could only find buyers for the logic your device has. Silly.

As for myself, I'll never use algebraic mode, of course, but then again, I couldn't care less about the calc being able to to it. My HP 49, BTW, does not revert to Alg on a machine reset (ON + C), only if you coldstart it.



I have an HP-17Bii and 49G, and neither is difficult to toggle between modes, which stay set until they are changed.

Of course, dual mode will cause some unshifted key positions to be unused (e.g., "(", ")", "RDN").

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