[OT?] The strangeness of the programmable calculator market


Some time ago, out of curiosity, I bought a Sharp EL-5250. (At a bargain price, otherwise curiosity wouldn't have been enough.) It's obviously targeted at high-school students -- x^3 on the keyboard, as a primary key, no less? Check. Quadratic equation solver? Check. It is also programmable in a kind of pidgin BASIC, with 4 KB of storage shared between programs and equations.

Now, there is a good reason why the above link is to Sharp's Australian site -- it's the only English-language page with non-bare-bones specs for the calculator. Of other Sharp regional sites, only the Italian and Central/Eastern European sites have that model listed. The German site offers EL-5120, the predecessor of the 5250. The rest may have a few non-programmable scientifics, or no calculators at all.

I'm sure that Sharp has done its share of marketing studies which translated into this pattern of availability, but what I'm wondering about are the underlying reasons -- what is it that makes a programmable scientific calculator marketable in Italy and Australia, and not in France and the UK?

As for the 5250, it's a nice enough machine, although in a cynical mood I would call it a monument to non-orthogonality. (HP-33s, as constrained as it may be, is probably a better machine.) Programming is a bit awkward, there is no debugging, and the programs consume memory with abandon. But it's there, it's useful, and yes, it's fun.

(An interesting parallel: the 5250 is powered by two CR2032s. The manual warns that batteries must be replaced one at a time to avoid memory loss. Sounds familiar?)




Even more OT and no answer to your question, sorry:

I've owned the EL-5120 since this machine has basically everything the 32SII has and I was looking for a cheap replacement. When I got it, I noticed that there was no reasonable way to work with arrays and the interface was quite awkward so I sold it a few days later. No more Sharp 'scientifics' for me! (Of course, I still have my PC-1500 :)


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  OT: Graphing calculator for Android ? Ivan Rancati 4 664 11-18-2013, 12:33 PM
Last Post: Alberto Candel
  OT-The ideal calculator Matt Agajanian 0 309 09-04-2013, 01:11 AM
Last Post: Matt Agajanian
  OT: Reversing Sinclair's amazing 1974 calculator hack - half the ROM of the HP-35 Egan Ford 6 952 09-02-2013, 10:54 PM
Last Post: Thomas Klemm
  OT: Simulating a TI calculator with crazy 11-bit opcodes Egan Ford 8 902 08-13-2013, 12:06 AM
Last Post: Paul Dale
  who uses programmable calculators? John Ioannidis 24 2,053 06-18-2013, 04:11 PM
Last Post: Steve Simpkin
  OT: anyone use the TI BAII Plus calculator a lot ? Gene Wright 1 405 06-15-2013, 01:08 PM
Last Post: John B. Smitherman
  OT: RPN calculator/dmm by ESI Kees van der Sanden 2 571 05-25-2013, 01:38 PM
Last Post: Kees van der Sanden
  [OT] Unknown Olivetti calculator? Cristian Arezzini 4 635 05-24-2013, 01:17 PM
Last Post: Thomas Klemm
  HP85 Programmable ROM cardtridge 82929A-service ROM not working- inaki 2 572 04-25-2013, 08:08 AM
Last Post: inaki
  OT: The HP Calculator Cult (HCC) Geir Isene 8 856 02-27-2013, 04:29 PM
Last Post: Marcus von Cube, Germany

Forum Jump: