Desert island calc?


Inspired by the recent thread about calculator collections, I have a question for all you forum addicts:

Which one is your single most favorite calculator model?

I suppose I could say that, for me, it would be the HP-42S... But then again, on a desert island, I'll probably not need that much power, and so I'll give the nod to the HP-67, solid and elegant in every way. Truly a classic!


My desert island calculator will be the HP41CX. If I am allowed TWO calculators, the second will be the HP42s.


PS: Shouldn't you be working on a new update for the Free42??? (said with tongue and cheek)


PS: Shouldn't you be working on a new update for the Free42??? (said with tongue and cheek)

I just bought a new laptop -- the old one was getting flaky and besides a 233 MHz Pentium MMX with 144 MB RAM doesn't cut it any more with most of the recent software development tools. The reason I mention this is because I needed something that will run Microsoft's PocketPC development tools -- work on the PocketPC port of Free42 is now officially under way. Watch this space for an announcement of a PayPal donation account where Free42 fans can help me by paying for my new laptop. :-)



Wonderful! The PayPal donnation is well overdue. You have put in mega hours in this project. I think your labor of love needs some cold hard cash as a "thank you"! I will certainly click that PayPal donnation button.


Edited: 2 Nov 2005, 7:48 p.m.


Well, the 67 and the 41c are poor choices, because they will run out of power.

I'll go for a 15c. I won't even need to bring a spare set of batteries :-)

Besides, being stuck on a desert island will finally give me the time to figure out how to use all that matrix and complex number stuff to best advantage. What else would I use my calculator for--counting coconuts? 1 coconut <ENTER> 1 cocnut + ...... :^)

Edited: 1 Nov 2005, 5:09 p.m.


Funny - I was thinking about exactly this last night. I just received a copy of "Feynman's Tips on Physics" (the missing lectures from the Feynman Lectures on Physics, plus some problems and additional material), and was intrigued by Michael A. Gottlieb's story of how he took six months out, in rural Costa Rica, to read (and understand) The Lectures.

I'd love to do the same thing. I have the books - it's the six months that's the problem.

But if I got those six months, I'd take my 41CX - I've already used it while reading the books. If it could be *any* calc, then I might consider a 42S, in hopes of better battery life and in view of there being next to no need for peripherals and expansion.


--- Les



The 67 really is a poor choice, because the sand will destroy your card reader. :-(

I'll choose the 42s, too - but if I may take a 2nd, I'll also take the 15c (it just lists key codes, where the 42s lists commands, and <450 program steps are not too much for plenty of time on an island, but else it's a very nice calc). With the manuals, of course, otherwise I won't have a chance to understand the real stuff.

With the sand, the waves, the coconuts, the sun and the stars above, there will be plenty of applications (and sufficient space to write formulae in the sand). :-)


With the sand, the waves, the coconuts, the sun and the stars above, there will be plenty of applications (and sufficient space to write formulae in the sand). :-)

Funny you should say that! It was a time when I was vacationing in the tropics that I found myself pondering the fact that the difference between the length of a summer's day and a winter's day depends on your latitude; I worked out the math but having no calculator at hand I couldn't actually compute any numbers or plot any graphs. This was when I decided I really should never be without an HP-42S, and that's how the Free42 project got started....


I'm going to cut against the traditionalist vein here, but before I do, I'm going to impose a condition on my desert island. If I can't have an island with a treadmill run generator connected to a bank of 12 volt batteries, then I'm not going. You can't make me. Forget food and water, I must have electricity.

Given that, I'd take my Zaurus CL860 PDA running pdaXrom with Pocket Debian GNU/Linux, and run Nonpareil on it. That will give me many of the Classics, the Voyagers and the HP41. I'll take DOSEMU as well, so I can run JF's EMU41 and EMU71 simulators under simulated DOS. I will bring along the source code to X48 (and to EMU48) and fix the former so it actually works. That will keep me busy for a while. But if I run out of things to do, I'll also bring a couple of 68K simulators and look into a 9816 simulator.

Edited: 1 Nov 2005, 7:48 p.m.


12C due to low battery consumption and to make date calcs easier to remind myself how long I've been on that island.

If I had an unlimited supply of batteries, a 49G+ with tetris and the bible downloaded. I could get great tetris and have years of reading material!


Stephen's repsonse:

12C due to low battery consumption and to make date calcs easier to remind myself how long I've been on that island.

If I had an unlimited supply of batteries, a 49G+ with tetris and the bible downloaded. I could get great tetris and have years of reading material!

Good answer! A 41CX with Navigation Pac would also be a good choice with an unlimited supply of N cells. It might help you get off the island...

-- KS


You know, reading this thread has me thinking. If we are concerned about which calculator to have on a desert island. . . we are farther gone than what the "normal people" ever have considered.

=) =) =)

Long live our calculators! May our keyboards continue to work oh blessed God of the Calculator! May our LCDs stay bright and free! May our battery terminals not corrode until you come with vengeance to cleanse the world of the wicked and save your chosen few!!! (the ones that use RPN of course. . . ;-)

Tim Wessman


First rational response to an inane hypothetical situation.

I remember a calculus professor, who, in banning all calculators, rationalized it by saying "What if you found yourself on a desert island and had to calculate something?" I jumped through his hoop, but have never forgotten how utterly ridiculous the idea was. If one's situation has deteriorated to desert isle status, you're probably going to be more concerned with basic survival, not calculating anything.

So, the moral is, always take two of your favorite machine, whatever it is, wherever you go. And yes, pour a large libation to the calculator God, so you will always have the service of your faithful machine




Same as Hrastprogrammer : HP48GX , BUT with his wonderful HP41X-Y-Z emulator. Thanks again Hrastprogrammer for your extraordinary HP41 Emulator running on HP48GX , HP49G and HP49 G+



Thanks again

You are welcome :-)


There's nothing like picking coconuts an hour before sunrise...

So it has to be the 41CX. The calc has to have alarms.


Yes, but to pick coconuts an hour BEFORE the sun rises, you'll need....ahem...light.

So, it HAS to be an Hp-80 with it's beautiful LED display showing 8.88888888 to light your way into the dark!!!

...and you can compute the number of days, you've stayed in the island...
...if you short the battery pack, you may even be able to produce heat and fire :-)) to cook your meals...



But HELLO! The alarms! What about the alarms? An HP-80 with a time module. Yes, that would be quite something.


Ok, I surrender...but with an Hp-80...I seldom need to sleep :-)

BTW, your UAC program is a marvel.




New version soon comming up. New features include:

Set alarms for each day throughout the week

and some minor stuff.


But with my Port-X-Light attached to my 41CX I can have a nice, bright light, with several choices of colors. :-)


I'd have to have some way of recharging the batteries, but my all time favourite is the HP33C (SPICE) - it just felt right, not too complex or too simple, though 49 programming steps were a challenge sometimes.
My second choice would be the HP67...

Mike T.

PS. I really did use my HP33C as a torch to read by under my bedcovers at boarding school - torches were banned...


Hi, Thomas:

If I can have either electricity or AAA batteries aplenty then I'd take with me a whole HP-71B.

If power's not available, then the HP-15C is the perfect choice, as its batteries will run for 10 years or more.

I think, given adequate care, both would survive in such an environment for a long time. Matter of fact, I did carry an HP-11C with me to a 1-year stay in nearly desertic conditions (heat, dust, etc) and 25 years later it's still mint.

Not that I'd expect to stay that long on a 'desert island' ...

Best regards from V.


Pack my bags:

    HP-42s (with the 32k upgrade) & some spare batteries.

My "camper" Swiss Army knife.

A mask, fins, snorkel, spear gun, and 400 gallons of shark repellent.

A box of pencils and a half-ton of sketch paper.

My Ovation S771 and a few dozen sets of strings.

A wide-brimmed hat, some durable shades, and 90 quarts of SPF-45.

S.S. Minnow? I'm on it!


A HP15C modified to run on Solar power if stranded on desert island for 20 years with no electricity.


I had to make that choice in December '96. The desert island was Ecuador, which is neither an island or desert (it more closely resembles a toilet). I chose my 41cx with the math chip, surveyors co op module, and two extended memories.
The difficult decision was "which ten albums?"


With no time to think about it or no reference material, I would probably grab an Hp48GX with two memory cards loaded up (or I might even consider a plain 49G as its libraries 1 & 2 are much more reliable). Battery life may be a premium and extra AAA's would also be on my list. Having these is like having a calculator and a couple of reference manuals.

I may opt for a 42s if I had access to other reference material as I actually like the form factor and traveling abilities better.

I chose the Hp49G for its durability as solid number crunching might not be all that practical. Now, if I was at the South pole with weeks and months of spare time and lots of supplies without regard/access to external distractions, I would choose a 42s.

The more I think about it, the more certain I would take the FHB (Frozen Hamster Butt) Blue Hp49G (I chuckle every time I recall that famous color). Sand wouldn't be as destructive to its keyboard as to the typical Hp keyboards and it might actually hold up better to the elements on an island. Of course the Acrilic lens may scratch beyond readability (time for the ice skate method to repair like Tom Hanks used B^O. )


Been there! Done that!
whilst working for a survey company in the early eighties I spent six weeks on a couple of the monte-bello islands off the north of western australia.
took my 41CV, which i'm still using, and a copy of hofstaders Godel Escher Bach book. It was marvellous, I only wish I could get a gig like that today!


Hmmm, let's see. Does the island have a store that sells a lot of "n cell" batteries for my HP-41CX, or should I pick a solar-powered throw-away junker from China?

Jim Chumbley

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