"Completed Voyager" redux: the HP-10C


Several weeks ago, I joined the relative few who own a complete set of HP Voyager-series calculators -- the 10C, 11C, 12C, 15C, and 16C. (The "KinHPo" 12C Platinum is not included in this set, nor do I intend to purchase one.)

The last and most difficult one to obtain, of course, was the 10C. Introduced in 1982 and discontinued in 1984 -- presumably due to poor sales and lowered prices -- the supply of these is quite limited, and high prices are the result. For a functionally-perfect and cosmetically excellent 10C on eBay, I paid the price of a 15C in a similar state. I hadn't seen too many offered on eBay; the opportunity was enticing.

The 10C, I'm sure, was an attempt to fill the price/product niche of the entry-level scientific model, much as the 31E and 32E models did for the Spice series. (One can infer that the 15C was the successor of the 34C, and the 11C similarly replaced the 33C).

Where HP erred with the 10C, I believe, is omitting useful functions in order to provide rudimentary programmability. It's as though HP considered it unthinkable not to fully exploit its Continuous Memory technology by producing a nonprogrammable scientific calculator. Instead, they foisted off a substandard product that only the unknowledgable and the budget-conscious purchased.

The programmability it offered was the simplified paradigm also built into the finance-oriented 12C -- no insert/delete editing, no labels, no subroutines. The most a user could enter was 79 lines of unstructured programming, displayed as numerical keycodes. And yet, in the 10C User's Manual, 40 of the 125 pages are devoted to programming! (By contrast, the 15C User's Manual had 293 pages.)

The 10C, with only one shift key, had a limited number of keyboard positions. Ten of these were allotted to functions pertinent only to programming (GTO, R/S, PSE, SST, BST, P/R, MEM, x<=y, x=0, CLEAR PRGM).

I believe that the HP-10C might have been a viable quality "entry-level" product as a nonprogrammable calc with more mathematical functions -- like a modernized 32E with Continuous Memory and one shift key. I have an idea what it should have been, using the contemporary Voyagers, Spices, and other previous models as guidance. I'll save that for later...

See also an archived thread: The Complete Voyager

-- KS

Edited: 22 Feb 2005, 3:43 a.m.




Mike --

I appreciate the greeting, but I can honestly say that I've been a "club member" since November 1983, when I bought my 15C new for US$109. (Still have it, still works great). However, I acquired the other four models only within the past three years -- two from eBay, and two from a local electronics reseller who also appreciates the 1980's HP calculators.

I've always been delighted with the 15C. Like Namir, though, I've learned only recently just how superb it is. (Valentin Albillo's treatises have helped me to "see the light".)


My greeting was for complete your collection of all Voyager.



I bought a 10C when I started going to college... I had a 41CX but I was worried that it might not be allowed for use during tests.

I liked the 10C a lot: it had all the functions I needed and then some, and it was just programmable enough so that you could store a function to make plotting it easier, or to program a basic regula falsi root finder on the fly to check results.

I'm sure the 10C would have sold a lot better if it had been introduced at the same time as the 11C, but as it is, it was always a bit too "low profile", I think. How do you hype a new model if it has *less* of everything than all the existing models in the series?

One reason why I liked it especially, and why I'm really sorry I don't have it any more, was because it was so pretty. The lack of a blue 'g' key made the keyboard look tidy, and the whole machine was just so elegant compared to the other Voyagers.

- Thomas


I remember buying both the HP10C and the HP11C when they first came out. The programming features of the 10C reminded me of the HP-55 (except the HP11C has more memory steps). I was also using the HP41C since it was launched. This made me prefer label-oriented branching that line-number-oriented branching. I sold the HP10C to a fellow engineer at the office and kept the 11C. Today I have the entire Voyager collection--all bought from eBay.

I have come to appreicate the 15C more now than when it first came out. I feel the same way about the HP42s.



I remember seing a 10C back in the mid-1980s, and it indeed looked tidy, lacking a blue shift key. A minimum RPN, I thought back then.

After quite a while looking for one, I finally got myself a 10C in December 2003. The manual was well-written and a significant part of it was devoted to programming. And while its capabilities are rather limited, it is good for programming a function on the fly or do some repetitive calculations when there is nothing else at hand.

It is interesting to note (have anybody tried this?) that some HP-25 programs can be ported to the 10C without much hassle. An interesting porting (for me during a while) was the Russian Roulette game, about a year ago. I had to visit the doctor frequently, and I found myself using any number as a seed and playing while I waited.

A basic calculator that has RPN, some lexibility of its own and a nice look. My choice for simple calculations instead of a four-banger, and a good companion to ease the tension while you wait for the doctor...

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