Old vs. New HP 12c



Reading the commentary on amazon.com regarding the Hp 12c, the biggest complaint seems to be that the newer models that have been manufactured overseas -- China, Maylasia, etc. -- are nowhere near as reliable and sturdy as those made in the 1980s in the USA. I see many American-made Hp 12cs on sale on ebay. Would an old American-made HP 12c, in very good condition (as claimed by the seller) from the 1980s work as well a new HP 12c made overseas? I find it hard to believe that a calculator that's nearly 20 years old would be a better buy than a new one.

Take care,



Peter, I bought a 12c about 3 years ago, and it is fine. It was made in China, but it is just as reliable as my 1983 16c.


Condition varies widely. 12c machines often see enormoius use. I know a real estate agent who has used the same one for about 12 years, and the paint is all worn off!

I have a fairly old brazilian unit whichg does not even have scratch marks on the feet. This is of the old 3-button battery type, and would certainly last a long time.

On a really heavily used voyager, the keys are somewhat mushy or not as hard to push, and occasionally you will even see keybounce problems on really worn ones (never as bad as TI-itis though).

The thing about the "voyagers is that they are an exceptyion to all other electronic gadgets. They were just built really well.




> Peter, I bought a 12c about 3 years ago, and it is fine. It was made in China, but it is just as reliable as my 1983 16c.

The 1983 16c probably has a lot more good years left in it though than the 3-year-old Chinese unit does. I've used my HP-41cx every day for nearly 20 years, and it's practically good as new; but I'm sick of Chinese things that only last typically a few months.


Not all chinese things last for 2 or 3 years. At home I have a vase made in China that I still use from time to time that is at least 1700 years old. These models are not very rare and can usually be acquired for a few $100.



you are right. But if you try to use the vase as a calculator you are possibly not as fast as with an original HP, even doing binary calculations.


I got a Chinese 12C a few months ago and felt very disappointed about its quality. The ENTER key was nearly loose, the keyboard feel was dull, and the general feeling was "cheesy", way far from the usual "pro" feeling of an HP (I own a 48G, a 41CV and a 35).

Thank goodness, it was very cheap....


Mine is a Malaysian one from 91 (3 batteries) with painted keys but I feel the keyboard is better than my 48gx or original 15c.
I only wish these were molded keys.



Arnaud, you're not the only one who misses the molded keys. Paint wears off mighty quickly when a machine is used around abrasive dust. Why doesn't HP (or any other brand I've seen) make molded keys anymore? Is the cost prohibitive even at Chinese wages?


Yes, it is.


Good one. I was interested in the cost of tooling for double-shot keys. Twenty years ago even the cheap little machines from Sharp had molded-in numbers, so it's hard to understand why the "better" HP machines are no longer made that way.


Some day, someone is going to make a top-quality key that has a small, back-lit display in it, so the label is electronically driven. Pressing a shift key would re-label the rest of the keys. Now that would make a nice calculator.


That has existed for 15-20 years already, but they're big and have been extremely expensive, used mainly in military applications like fighter jet control panels. IEE used to make the Pixie, a push-button switch with a 24x36 LCD with a serial interface, for about $50 each. They were about 7/8" by 5/8" IIRC. There is another company making them now with multi-colored backlighting. Unfortunately the name escapes me.


Having US, CN, BR and MY 12C, I can confirm you that the quality is NOT the same.

I use my US 12C on a daily basis, mainly as number cruncher.

The keyboard quality is not the same, The MY and CN units show painted keys while the first models are moulded keys. After some use the paint tend to fade and even disappear. Furthermore the special HP "click" is less present on newer models. Finally the texture of the last series is not as solid as from the earlier series. The keys "rattle" in the last series while they remain well steady even after having been longly used. You sometimes need to press harder on certain keys of the last series.

The case is less solid on last series. The display is lest contrasted than the 1st series.

So I would definitely pay the price of a new 12C for a used on ebay.


I got a 12c made almost 20 years ago at ebay for 60 dollars which is BY FAR BETTER than a brand new condition one, in fact, appears to be never touched..its quality much better than new ones made in china...i recommend this way to get one...its manual still wrapped...

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