Death of an hp

July 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm 3 comments

My hp calculator died today. Or, more accurately, it has been dying a slow death over the past few months, and seems to have finally kicked the bucket.

I’m pretty bummed because this isn’t just any calculator – it’s an hp 48S graphing calculator, circa 1990.

When the subject of graphing calculators came up in high school and all the other kids were getting TI’s, my dad insisted that I have an hp.

You see, my dad has an hp65, one of the original pocket calculators. He got it around 1974, while he was in college, and still uses it every week to balance the checkbook and plan the budget – he won’t use anything else. I was so young when he taught me to use RPN logic that I don’t remember it – I was probably still in the womb.

There are a couple of good websites for antique hp calculators – the hp museum, for example – where I can go to find out how to diagnose, disassemble, and fix my calculator. Normally, I wouldn’t tackle an electronics repair, but I just might try it this time.

There’s something about the unique orange and blue labels, forty-nine buttons, and brownish-gray case of my 48S that contrasts nicely with my sleek, naked, black iPhone. An icon of nerdiness side-by-side with an icon of hipness.

P.S. On a family trip to DC in the early ’90’s, we saw Dad’s exact calculator in the Smithsonian. Apparently, it was used on the Apollo spacecraft in 1975.

P.P.S. If you’ve never heard of RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) logic, check out hp’s explanation and tutorial. And yes, it really is called Reverse Polish Notation.

Entry filed under: Random Stuff That You Might Enjoy.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sandro Gisler  |  July 30, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Oh no! My 48G still works like a charm. I only learned RPN in college, but can still do it effortlessly. And I love these blue and orange buttons…
    Hope you’ll be able to fix it!

    Reply
  • 2. Paul Stern  |  August 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Bummer! I just turned mine on (had to change the batteries). But it still works. Forget the fix and just write an app for the iPhone that emulates the screen and all those buttons. It would be a hit.

    Reply
  • 3. Sandro Gisler  |  August 3, 2011 at 7:33 am

    @Paul Stern, “if you can think of an app, it has already been invented”. There are several, but Coder Calc looks most promising; haven’t tried it, though.

    Reply

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