Story on yahoo finance about the 25th anniversary of HP12c


Note the link explaining RPN...and how HP represents it...way to go HP!


The PDF history of the 12C on the HP site linked to in the article above is interesting. Reading it, you would never know that the 12C was part of a series of calculators. Was it the first of the Voyager models? The production dates on the museum pages for the various Voyager models show that the 15C and 16C were introduced in 1982, followed by the 10C, also in 1982, but that the 11C and 12C began life in 1981. Which came first, the 11C or the 12C?


Edited: 10 Feb 2006, 3:19 p.m.


1. 11c, 2. 12c


1. 11c, 2. 12c

Hum. In that case, can someone familiar with marketing and The Truth tell me how this PDF can square the two concepts?

I can understand (but resent) that they don't want to mention the less successful bretheren of the 12C on a site devoted to its extraordinary success, but the narrative in the above PDF leaves out any mention of the 11C, even though it came first!? I don't see how they could have gotten away without lying directly, as opposed to indirectly, which is what most marketing material from large companies does. 8(



Howard, the sequence I posted above was based on the museum's "next calculator made" function. Meanwhile, I crosschecked and found BOTH calcs were introduced on September 1st, 1981. So, probably both models were developed in parallel, one for the business guys, one for the tech guys. Besides some minor points (e.g. HP80 as direct predecessor of HP12C), the article may tell the truth nevertheless, but then of an Iowa farm boy with a very selective memory - well, after 25 years... ;-)

Edited: 11 Feb 2006, 5:52 p.m.


Rereading the PDF just now, the only way I can square it with the idea that there was a scientific calculator released at the same time, and sharing enough design features with the 12C that they are called part of the same model line, is if most of the decisions mentioned were made on behalf of both calculators, and not just the 12C. Perhaps Dennis Harms lead a team responsible for both calculators, instead of being ".. the project manager for the 12C .." as described in the article. Retaining RPN on a business calculator might have been a decision that " .. would cause today's marketing people .. to gasp," but surely not those working for HP then. Every business calculator HP had produced up to then used RPN, as had every other calculator except the HP-01 wristwatch! The decision to add a third battery must have been taken for both machines. My 11C has three batteries, and exactly the same sloping profile as my vintage 12C.

Expurgated histories may be easier for target markets to swallow, but to me they are distinctly unsatisfying - and less interesting. And they just tend to confirm my impression that marketing is the art of half-truth in service of commerce. No, I didn't just discover that. 8(


Elsewhere in industry, when you start something like a new product line (let's call it "Voyager" for this post), you begin with elaborating a design to cover everything this line shall include. Suppose HP worked this way, they had all 5 models in mind (11c, 12c, 15c, 16c, 10c) in this early project phase already. These models may have been outlined in a rather coarse, blurred way with not every feature pinned down exactly, but with sufficient data to be sure all will fit into a common "Voyager" frame defined. So, I expect one project manager for "Voyager" (and maybe some deputy managers for the individual models, since many people have "manager" printed on their business cards in USA). Let's assume Dennis was the one (real) mgr. of "Voyager".

The project team started with the 11c and 12c to verify the market demand (some marketing guys may or may not have claimed this demand earlier). They produced the other calcs later. Maybe not every model was on their project list in the beginning, but the architecture was flexible enough to cover all 5. The last was just the lowest in performance, so no problem with the 10c.

This "history" is just based on published production dates, and derived using logic and common sense - perhaps there are some folks in this forum who KNOW at least some parts of the true story.

Edited: 12 Feb 2006, 6:19 p.m.


from the website:

> ... a nationwide competition that asks entrants to submit their
> most incredible real-life success stories involving the HP 12c
> Calculator ...

I wonder whether they'll appreciate the story about the guy who used his HP-12C to display prices when haggling with Indian prostitutes in Bangalore :-)

Sorry I couldn't resist



So I guess that there's not going to be a 25th anniversary model and that this contest is partially the outcome from those questions that Mary asked here last year. (see: and How disappointing.


I seem to recall being very skeptical at the time.

Sadly, this is what I would expect.

it should also be a lesson to the dreamers who keep thinking HP will come out with a new version of the 15c.

Wake up, people.

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