12C's sold


Hi. I am trying to figure out a conservative estimate of how many HP 12C calculators have sold since it fist came out in 1981. Does anyone have any idea? Also, any feedback on the new 12C Platinum would be welcome. I am working on an article about the history of the 12C. Thanks in advance for the help!



Wow ... HP has sold tons of the HP12C. I think it's their all-time best seller. Does HP share any info about such a nice success story??



I was amused a few months ago when one of the people at the new HP calcs group asked me how many HP-12Cs I thought had been sold. Does the new group not have records? Or were they looking to see what impressions people have? Has anyone else here been asked that question?

HP, of course, do not release total numbers sold. That's commercially sensitive information! So maybe the previous calculator groups did not pass the information on to the new one. Except that this should be known by the marketing people.

Gene (Wright), do you know?

Whatever... I told them that my opinion was at least 4 million, but could easily be as high as 10. After, all, 10 million would be only 10 thousand a week for 20 years, and the HP-12C has been on sale for longer than that.

On the 12P, I naturally compared it with the 12C. Keys were much more noisy - like the other new models, the case acts as an echo chamber when a key is pressed, and this can be distracting for people working nearby in a quiet environment. Algebraic mode needs parentheses. Lots more has been written elsewhere.

If you are seriously working on a 12C history book, please email me directly and I'd be happy to discuss more.


>>> HP, of course, do not release total numbers sold. That's commercially sensitive information! <<<

Since the serial number indicates the date of production and unit produced, it should be pretty easy to come up with a reasonable estimate.


GG wrote:

>> Since the serial number indicates the date of production and unit produced, it should be pretty easy to come up with a reasonable estimate.

Unfortunately, this does not help much on its own. Say
you have a calculator with a week number and a serial
number. That only tells you that at least this many
were made in that week. Were more made? If you have a
large number of 12Cs, you can get an estimate by
guessing that the serial number of each unit is on
average half-way through the total number made in each
relevant week. But you still don't know how many, if any,
were made in other weeks. What's worse, HP sometimes
began calculator serial numbers in each week on a
number other than 1. Later Topcat models began with
a serial number of 90000 each week!

If we could get a random sample of about 5,000 serial
numbers for each location where 12Cs were and are made
(USA, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, China), we could then
use those numbers to estimate the number of weeks per
year that 12Cs were made, and how may were made in each
place in each week of manufacture. Any offers? :-)


Hello Wlodek,

here are my 12C serial no entries:

3610M03581 (I sold this one),




Since HPQ is listed on NYSE, this kind of info is probably available to shareholders. Did you try to contact HP about their sales figures?

Good luck,



Just because they are publicly owned doesn't mean they'll reveal sales details.

Years ago (1972 or 1973), a bunch of us grad students at Caltech had lunch with HP vice-president Barney Oliver (one of the prime movers behind the HP 35 and an early proponent of SETI). The then-new HP 35 was a prime topic of the discussion for us techno-geeks, of course. I asked him if he knew how many HP had sold, and would he tell us. The answers were "yes" and "no."


HP doesn't provide sales numbers for any model. NPD tracks overall calculator sales, but doesn't break this down by model. The only information HP provides is that the 12C has sold "millions." HP sold 4 million calculators altogether in the first 10 months of this year, so I am sure that over 21 years they sold roughly 8-10 million 12Cs. They sold 750,000 of them the first year. Thanks for your comments.

Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  OT: The Math That Saved Apollo 13 Just Sold for $388,375 Egan Ford 4 1,187 12-01-2011, 08:02 PM
Last Post: Egan Ford
  56 HP-41CX's Sold At Government Auction John M (Ottawa) 6 1,481 10-05-2011, 01:58 AM
Last Post: Dave Shaffer (Arizona)
  15C LE: Will 10K units get sold quickly? Howard Owen 24 3,479 09-16-2011, 04:56 AM
Last Post: Patrick Rendulic
  HP 12C, 12C Platinum & 15C iOS App Walter Lam 2 935 06-02-2011, 01:25 PM
Last Post: Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina)
  Has any HP calc model ever been sold under another brand? hecube 7 1,587 08-20-2009, 04:39 AM
Last Post: jotne
  Stats programs for the HP-35s sold on eBay Bruce Bergman 15 2,644 08-30-2007, 10:52 AM
Last Post: Ren
  Update on the HP 97 sold for $3250 gvnelson 20 3,170 01-28-2007, 05:53 AM
Last Post: Gonzalo Fernandez
  12C vs 12C Platinum Cash Flows Katie Wasserman 10 1,920 12-28-2005, 10:12 PM
Last Post: tony(nz)
  HP86 sold thru HP museum ad, spammers Fritz Bjornsen 4 954 07-20-2004, 04:42 AM
Last Post: John
  12c/12c Platinum programming differences Don Shepherd 6 1,423 08-11-2003, 10:11 AM
Last Post: Gene

Forum Jump: