stop the Carly-bashing


Come on, guys, why all the Carly-bashing? This forum overflows with criticism of her, and HP in general, for not building the great calculators we all are used to from the 80’s. Face it, we are probably never going to see the likes of the HP-15c or HP-16c again, from HP or any other company, so let’s just enjoy the antique machines we have and be happy creating new and clever programs for them.


Woo Hoo !!!

The wicked witch is dead !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bring back the HP-34C Re-start the production
line !!! Happy times iz here agin !!!!!!!!!!

Free Vittles out by the Cement Pond !!!!

- Jed


You said it Jed, red leeeeddddddddssssss for ever!

Pass my regards to Captain Zener!


Because rather then admit it is simply not economical to build super high quality calculators, they'd rather have a scapegoat.


Hi, Don;

I agree with you that we'll not see something like the HP15C or the HP16C again, neither from HP nor another company. They actualy do not fit todays needs, todays market. I remember programming the HP16C to test some digital implementations. I do that, today, by using some graphics software (Eagle, TKGate, and a few others), mosty for my own or a few, very few professional activities. I also remember using the HP15C for "crunching" AC circuits, like load flow: the complex stack, the integrate and SOLVER, matrices... All-in-one! Beautifull! Today we have softwares that do that all instantly.

I like using them all, I'd buy (if I can afford) any new implementation from our friends, reserches in this forum. If it is a kit, beter yet! A DIY RPN calculator!

I remember that when I started with Electronics (I was 8 YO, first half 1970) I was never known about copmputers as they are, I was not aware of what they were supposed to do. I was 13 YO when I saw an HP21 and I was not aware of what SIN, COS, TAN, P->R and R->P were for. But the calculator was as beauty!

Professional needs for these days are different, for those who want to survive and be active there's a need for keeping 'up to date', otherwise we're not gonna be inside the market.

While many guys use the topmost portables, PDA's and the like (even pagers already belong to the past), using a calculator may seem "antique". I barely use mine outside home and, most of the time, I use them to find a solution to a problem or develop programs to post here.

I don't complain, I simply accept that Don is right about many things. I'd also add that all new achievemnts had their followers at the same time those wanting to keep existing ones were against the new. I want to keep calculators running because they were the best I had in my time, and I cannot see better stuff now. I think of those using slide rules and against calculators. The advantages of calculators against slide rules are tremendous for those who like calculators, but the advantages of slide rules against calculators are also imperative for those using slide rules.

Who's right?

Carly left HP because her fights against the board were biger than herself. That's a fact. I wonder: would HP, as a company, do what it has been done if Carly were not there? How powerfull was she to define everything without any opposition? I guess all of the final decisons, the "big ones", were taken by the board with her, and I gues not all of the things she wanted to be done were effectively done (maybe for the best of HP they were not...)

I'll wait to see. Fast changes in big companies are like route changes in bigger ships: they cannot be done unless you use extreme power. And if so, you may spend a lot of energy for nothing because when you achieve the maximum changing hability, all extra energy is completlely lost. If current board starts to announce astonishing changes and decide to apply them fast, I guess HP will be in trouble. Again.


Luiz (Brazil)


Yes, leave Carly alone!

It's all about abstraction layers: On a very basic layer, Carly is a bunch of cells. If you get to higher layers, you see her as a human that lives an interacts. You cant't criticise her actions unless you are sure that there are no higher layers. I don't know if there are higher layers, but because I am not sure about it, I don't dare to judge her.

Examples: Once there was the industrial revolution. People were fired and replaced by machines. In there eyes, machines were evil, but today, we see the industial revolution as a process that led us to new inventions like calculators. Today we see the whole thing!


Yes, leave Carly alone!

It's all about abstraction layers: On a very basic layer, Carly is a bunch of cells. [...] I don't dare to judge her.

What's wrong with judging? If a convicted murderer goes to prison for 10 years, that's judgment, too. You disagree with that, too, then?

Then again, I'm not so sure Carly *deserves* the criticism. She didn't invent this system whereby CEOs get paid fortunes, and receive astronomical bonuses whether they achieve their objectives or not; she simply took advantage of it, all above board.

Buying Compaq may have seemed a good idea at the time, and in the long run, maybe time will prove her right and those who forced her out of HP will get to eat their words.

But as far as calculators are concerned, the days of yore are *over*. To speak from my own personal experience: I cut my programming teeth with the HP-25, HP-19C, and HP-41C. They were all great little machines, and I loved them -- but if I had been able to afford it, I would have bought a Commodore PET instead, no question. Handhelds were just more affordable.

These days, computing power is cheap. I do most software development on a used laptop I bought for $175 on eBay. It's a slow machine by PC standards, but it runs circles around any hand-held, and it's good enough for me.

Who needs major power in a hand-held anyway? Students are the only demographic that comes to mind, apart from a few niche markets like surveyors or civil engineers -- and *they* will eventually all switch to PDAs, I'm sure.

Examples: Once there was the industrial revolution. People were fired and replaced by machines. In there eyes, machines were evil, but today, we see the industial revolution as a process that led us to new inventions like calculators. Today we see the whole thing!

Well, I'm sure that anyone who died of malnutrition or disease, back then, as a result of having lost their job (in those glorious days before social security) would have been so much happier if they had seen the "big picture", like we do now! "Hey, kids, we're starving, but it'll all work out GREAT in 100 years or so!" "Yaaaaay, dad!!!"


Today, young men on acid realize that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration....that we are all one conciousness experimenting ourselves subjectively, and that there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are just an imagination of ourselves.

Now here's Bob with the weather.


Klaus, on a basic level you are quite correct and morally right. You are a humble man, and this is a compliment, for you are a rarity among us modern people.

I agree. Let's not bash her anymore; she's gone from the scene. It was okay to critique her decisions while she was at the job, but now may she find better things.

And I wish better times for HP, too. And as someone said, it is no longer feasible for anyone in the world to manufacture like they did twenty to thirty years ago.

I appreciate your sentiments.


Thank you!

I think well all experienced unjustified criticism form somebody that did not understand our reasons. That is why I think we shouldn't criticise Carly---she can't explain her reasons in this forum.


It's sad to see a great company like HP destroyed by bad management. Carly was a major part of that. She seemed determined to wipe out all of the things that made HP unique.

I could live with HP getting out of the calculator business if they thought that there was no market for the kind of products HP excels at producing.

HP is not going to enjoy long-term success if management is only interested in quarterly reports, outsourcing and gutting in-house research and development, like many other American corporations.

I don't work for HP. I wouldn't want to work for them. The current company is a dim reflection of the "old HP", which I greatly admired.



I don't know Ms. Carly but I can see the results of her (and all her staff) in my hands.

This night, I was dismantling my HP-41CX. There was a serious problem with liquids and I had to dismantling it completely.
Starting by the case, very well done and engineered. Remove the small PCB soldered over the main plate. A piece o work and, I believe, very well done for that time.

Removed the plastic rivets (this is the bad part) and get appart the main PCB. So, you can see how every key is so very well done. They are molded in two parts: one gray and other black, in the backs. A piece of art! And in four sizes! Each key independent of other. You must count the yellow key too!

The front case is very well done too. It is plenty of cavities, where the keys are put in.

So, remove the plastic and each steel contacts.

Well, to remove the glue left by the plastic, it tooks almost 1 hour, so good it is, even after 15-20 years - and using heavy chemical products.

When mounting everythng back again, I was wondering: "man, I would like to have access to these very goot things HP used: glues, tapes, varnishes, paints, etc."

When I see the 49G+ pictures, it is very desgusting to see the wires, sticks and other very poor quality work.
I recently would have acquired one HP Pocket PC, but, analyzing its qualiy in calculators, I decided to get one Toshiba.

Other people have asked my opinion about buying one calculator and I enphasize the CAS system of 49G+, but I alert them about the poor quality in project at all. So, my last words are always: "give a look at Texas calculators too ..."

Only to reduce my ignorance about Carly administration: laboratory, medical and test equipments are any more produced by HP or is Agilent an HP subsidiary?

Best regards and desire best wishes for my HP41CX come back to live again after such surgery!



What did you HP41 cost when new, in todays dollars? What does the 49 cost?

People are cheap.


I must agree with you!


I don't agree the price comparison (yesterday's 41CX costs, today's 49G+ costs).

Yesterday (middle of 80ies) I had a choice: I could buy the high end 41CV/X, with many of high priced, but well constructed accessories. Then I got a sophisticated and exepnsive machine with *ALSO EXPENSIVE qualitative FEELING*.
But I could also buy a cheap and crappy noname calculator with the basic functions I rellay needed.

Today we live in a different world: We have only the choice between a crappy simple noname for a few bucks or a crappy constructed HP for a few bucks more. The 49G+ comes with more functions I ever thought to have on a 41. But not with the same qualitative look and feel I would expect from the function list! Even if I'm willing to pay for a qualitative product, I don't get it on the market!

So, you don't compare same things together. The formula (total_math_functions * total_MBytes_external_Memory / price) is too simple and forgets the quality factor.

Where is *THIS* factor today?


People just keep complaining about the lack of quality of recent HP calculators. Come on, folks, do the math: building a quality calculator is expensive. Building a cheap calculator that you simply replace when it breaks is more economical.

It is not evil bean-counters at HP or elsewhere that make the decision to focus on cheap products, it is the lack of consumers who are willing to pay extra for a solid product. The few hundred long-time HP calculator fans that haunt and TOS etc. do not constitute enough of a market, unless they'd be willing to pay hundreds of dollars per machine, and pay more to get such a machine repaired than it would cost to buy a comparable "disposable" machine today (HP-49G+, TI-89, whatever).

Speaking for myself, I don't have a problem with the quality of today's HP calculators; what bothers me is investing in a proprietary platform, and getting left stranded if and when HP decides to abandon it. (And they do abandon even their best products - like the 41 and the 42S.) OK, and they should fix the 49G keyboard problem, but from what I hear that may require moving the keyboard handling code from the Saturn layer to the native layer, which may be hard for them to do now that they've lost so much Saturn expertise!

I think if high-end calculators are going to survive in the long term, the same kind of standardization has to happen as has happened in the computer arena. As long as all computer manufacturers had their own proprietary OS etc., investing in an information system meant gambling that your computer vendor would stick around -- which they often didn't. Today, if your computer vendor goes under, or starts releasing inferior products or providing bad service, you switch to a different supplier, and simply port all your code -- porting from one flavor of Unix to another is easy; that's the whole *point* of Unix.

All we need is a standardized calculator hardware platform, and then it's only a matter of time before things like the HP-49G+ and TI-89 are re-implemented as portable, Open Source or GPL code, and then people *other* than geeks like us will be able to invest in a high-end calculator *without* worrying about their investment going down the drain a few years later.

My money would be on a Pocket PC with a smaller screen and a 40-key keyboard. Now I'm going to hold my breath until someone starts making one! :-)

- Thomas


So you are practically waiting for Qonos to appear?



The Qonos looks nice, but how standards-compliant will it be?

I'd rather see someone build a Pocket PC or a Palm with a keyboard. That would have a much better chance of becoming a standard than a maverick product like the Qonos, I think -- not least because there would be a slew of existing PDA-type apps you could run on it right away.

The Pocket PC platform is going to be around for a long time, and PalmOS doesn't look like it's dying yet either; there's a lot of good stuff there and I think a whole new platform would reinvent the wheel. I can't see people going for it. But the surveyors, engineers, etc., who need a high-end hand-held calculator would probably feel much better about investing in a platform that looked set to stay around for a while (after having discovered what can happen to proprietary platforms like the HP-48).

On the software side, the Qonos looks nice, and being able to run Linux on it is nice, but if Qonos folds, then what?


"All we need is a standardized calculator hardware platform, and then it's only a matter of time before things like the HP-49G+ and TI-89 are re-implemented as portable, Open Source or GPL code"

And companies would profit from this how exactly...?


And companies would profit from this how exactly...?

Well, gosh, um, let me think, that's a tough one.

Hey! I got it! Maybe they could try selling them! If they sold them for more than the cost of manufacture plus distribution, you could make a profit!

I think I should patent that idea, no? ;-)


I mean Texas Instruments would not be interested. They have the education market already. No incentive to change at all. I really can't see TI products "going down the drain" any time in the next ten years.

So, for the sake of the argument lets suppose Sharp, Casio, HP etc invest in a standard platform. How will that help them win sales?

"All we need is a standardized calculator hardware platform, and then it's only a matter of time before things like the HP-49G+ and TI-89 are re-implemented as portable, Open Source or GPL code, and then people *other* than geeks like us will be able to invest in a high-end calculator *without* worrying about their investment going down the drain a few years later."

Why would "people other then geeks" care if their supplier quit making calculators? Money isn't going down the drain as they still own the device.


I agree that the current calculator makers probably won't be interested in making a PDA-with-keyboard (except for Sharp, they're already doing just that; unfortunately the Zaurus it's neither Palm nor PPC-compatible).

The current PDA makers would be a much better bet; they would be entering a new market segment instead of competing with their own products.

PDA makers are also the obvious people to make such a device because it would appeal to (part of) the market they're servicing already. I, personally, would love a PDA with a keyboard; using a pen is sort of OK most of the time, but when I am entering even a two-paragraph memo, I find myself wishing for a keyboard very quickly. Doesn't have to be full-size of QWERTY or anything, either; something with 30 or 40 keys would be fine, AND would allow very nice calculator emulators as a bonus.

Why would "people other then geeks" care if their supplier quit making calculators? Money isn't going down the drain as they still own the device.

Consider a person who uses HP-41s with HP-IL to contol lab equipment. If anything breaks, where do you get repairs or replacements? Purchasing from eBay should never be part of any long-term business plan.

Or consider surveyors or engineers who don't just use the device, but who also invest considerable time and/or money in a software library tailored to their needs. Once their platform of choice is no longer supported by the manufacturer, they'll have to switch -- maybe not right away, maybe not ever (if they're lucky) -- but most professionals will prefer working with something they KNOW they can replace, without putting up with the unpredictability of eBay.


> What did your HP41 cost when new, in todays dollars?

That question is not relevant, partly because even the same high quality plus a hundred times as much memory and speed would be less expensive to produce with today's technology. The old $450 digital tape drive and pile of $10 cassettes can be replaced with a $19 MMC or other small memory cards with much greater speeds and capacities. If I really need a tiny printer like the HP82162A, I can get an industrial-strength (not disposable consumer stuff) graphic dot-matrix impact printer for half the old HP price from someplace like Weightronix, and the paper won't fade either.

The feel of the keys is one thing I keep seeing over and over on this forum. Let me give you an idea of how cheap the rubber keypads are. We're not just talking about a $5 keyboard compared to a $20 keyboard in a $400 product. At my last place of work we had a rubber keypad made for a product. The tool-up was a couple of grand, and then each keypad after that was twenty-five cents. That was with smaller quantities than we see in today's HP calculators, and 15 years ago before China entered the picture too. HP's calculator keyboards today might cost them less than that hard-to-open slightly flexible clear plastic package the calculator comes in. Don't tell me there's no market for a calculator that puts a little more into the keyboard.

> It's sad to see a great company like HP destroyed by bad management.

Another example was what Jack Tramiel did to his company, Commodore.


Back again to this matter. It seens you have been reading an old answer to a post I've done...

Well, I see two kinds of products:
- good quality ones with accordingly prices;
- poor quality ones with very low prices;

At the time HP produced high quality products, their prices were high, compared to the similar poor quality products that always were in the market place.

I believe HP and other companies had their territory well delimited. Now, HP has jointed to them and the mess is done.
HP products are comparable to others. So, why buy HP?
If HP had manteined its quality products, their clients would be paying higher prices until today.

Look at another good example: you have the quartz watches. They have very good looking, precision and are robust and, best of all: are cheap!
Well, how to explain somebody todays still pay thousand of dollars for a mechanical one, inprecise, weak and hard to give maintenance?

Simple question of stillish, quality, history...

Well, I think the world comports space for well planed and worked products and place for the rest. I would like to be in the first group, not in "the rest".

Well, about production costs, I agree with you too. Today thecnologies make good processors, memories for a fraction of the pioneers HP products.

People believe professionals don't use anymore calculators because computers.

My thoughts: computers ares expensive, heavy, expensive, need a considerable power source, are not confident (at least with some OS). If you are in the field, a computer can prejudice more than help.
PDA devices are not the complete answer. They don't have a decent OS and are hungry on power source.

Even in the case we, professionals, do not any more use calculators for work, I believe students still want them.
So, make calculators for students - in all levels! The success of 41 system was achieved because it was a system: peripherals like multimeters, frequency counters, wand, printers and a lot of other very nice options, simple to give the students a way to put their hands in equipments that would cost a fortune if not launched with this intention - make a system for a calculator.

Well, that's what I think ...

Best wishes!


Sounds to me a lot like Qonos with the Sled




Artur posted,

Look at another good example: you have the quartz watches. They have very good looking, precision and are robust and, best of all: are cheap! Well, how to explain somebody todays still pay thousand of dollars for a mechanical one, inprecise, weak and hard to give maintenance?

Simple question of stillish (stylish), quality, history...

I think that your views agree with the majority of us here.

Regarding wristwatches, I believe that a top-grade mechanical chronometer (e.g., Rolex) is typically viewed as "status jewelry" as well as an enduring object of admiration by its owner. Personally, I would not want to wear a watch costing thousands of US$, risking loss, theft, or robbery -- particularly when such watches might not even do their basic job as well as an inexpensive one with modern technology. I also think that many luxury chronometers are rather garish and "busy".

A mechanical chronometer and a Curta mechanical calculator might be very impressive as accomplishments of engineering, but, I doubt that anyone here would prefer to use Curta instead of a quality HP.

Quartz watches also don't have to be cheaply made. I'm still wearing a 1981 Seiko quartz analog/digital Duodisplay with clean design, easy legibility, intuitive and hassle-free operation, and high quality. I recently paid $100 for a new display crystal and other service by Seiko, and I'd do it again instead of buy a new watch. The newer ones aren't as well-made inside, as a professional repairman informed me...

-- KS

Edited: 25 Feb 2005, 2:19 a.m.


I have been using the same Seiko analog/digital watches for many years. Actually, I think the newer ones are better than the older ones. My first one cost over $200, lasted about 2 years, then died. Its replacement lasted about four years. The next one six years. The later ones have never died, but I am very hard on crystals and wind up replacing the watch every few years. The latest ones, I buy on Ebay for around $5-$20.


Agilent is an independent company that kept many of the businesses that made up the old HP, like test equipment. The new HP kept computers, printers, PDAs, calculators, and the surviving bits of DEC, COMPAQ and other computer companies.


HP's calculator design went to sleep in the 90's, this was before Carly.

But Carly was head when the cuts finished off the Australian calculator design house and all their good designs for calculators and PDA's.

Carly was in charge when all the design and manufacture was shipped out to south east asia and China. HP calculator quality and function has gone down during her stay.

The Compaq takeover was pushed through by Carly against some of her fellow directors. This policy does not seem to have paid off, it's probably cost loads of money just to delay the inevitable - PC's don't make good returns.

If CEO's want to take the credit when things go well then they have to take the blame (and bashing) when things go badly.


ACO gave us the rubber key fiasco.

They gave us the color scheme of the 49g.

Try not to give us revisionist history. :-)



In all fairness to the ACO, the rubber keys are probably the result of HP having no injection-moulding and other manufacturing capabilities of its own. Manufacturing has been outsourced to S.E. Asian companies whose production lines seem to alternate between mobile phones for Nokia et al and calculators for HP.

Nor does the new HP have the industrial engineers who could design a key mechanism.

The ACO seems to have been mostly a software development operation. They did have some very interesting and innovative products in the works, though.

But the colour schemes? Yeah, you got them bang to rights on that one. . .


--- Les Bell



Interested folks might care to gander at
this week's Cringely.

The links page points you to (among other things) his September, 2001 column, which appears substantially correct re: the Compaq merger.

I'm no longer emotionally invested -- I suspect the Board is the real problem, and that isn't likely to change. There's probably a lot more down-slope sliding in store for H-P from this point.


The reason Carley gets bashed is because she is the prototype of what happens when businesses stop being run by engineers, and technical people, and start being run by business and marketing people. In short, they suck.

Carley had no idea who her target market was, no surprise there, she doesn’t exactly hang out with folks that find any virtue in math, science, technology or things of that sort. She has never once had to solve for a derivative of a function, a 3 x 3 matrix or even find a square root. She wouldn’t understand the first principal about what makes that slick private jet she fly’s around in actually work. She, like most business and marketing people was/is a simple minded creature, adept at creating catchy buzz words, cute phrases and slick marketing campaigns. Oh and she looked good.

Prior to Carley, HP survived and thrived by making insanely good stuff that marketed itself. It didn’t need focus groups or market surveys or any of the crap that businesses think they need to sell a product. I discovered my first HP calculator simply by asking other practicing engineers what they recommended. There was no alternative that even came close, there still isn’t.

I wish I could be more positive but the damage is done. HP joins the ranks of companies selling second rate electronic gadgets to glutted consumers who have no idea what they are missing. It’s not because there is no demand for better, but because the people at the top of those companies have no idea that there is actually a market for such things, and further, wouldn’t know how to tap into those markets if they tried.



100% agreed.
Carly gets very well-deserved criticism.
If you don't bash bean counters, prepare for more to come.

More and more products today are of low quality, break easily, are not repairable, are 'fashionable'. I find myself liking more and more old stuff.

My bets are that HP has still lots of years of going down. Will probably cease to exist at some point, but not to worry since "HP" is gone already.


Agree. I am out to get calculators (and other office machines) that last.

Do not get me wrong, I really enjoy using my 49g+, and I use it daily. I wouldn't be in the HP world if wasn't for the 49g+ (I starting using HP calculators in 2000 with a very hard to find 48GX, which I lost) But I had to go through three of them to find a keyboard I can live with. (The first one I sent back, the second, I'll probably adorn on my wall as an art object).

I feel that customers would be more loyal if products were built to last at least 8-10 years instead of having to buy a replacement every three years.

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