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HP 12c Calculator (great article on a timeless classic)
Mass Made Soul ^ | September 21, 2018 | N/A

Posted on 10/24/2019 7:07:53 PM PDT by DoodleBob

The 12c calculator from Hewlett-Packard is one of those products that is so ubiquitous and familiar that you almost forget it exists, yet at the same time is so different that there's almost nothing like it. Whenever someone pulls it out of a drawer or pocket to do a calculation, no matter how trivial, you know you are dealing with a professional. Remarkably, it has been in continuous production for over 35 years, with very few changes. While there are now fancier and in some ways more sophisticated calculators, such as with screens for doing graphs, the 12c remains a cult status symbol for professionals.

And people really bond with their 12c's. I'm reminded of the chant from the movie Full Metal Jacket, when the recruits are first learning to use their rifles:

“This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle I am useless.”

The 12c has much the same aura: They are mass-manufactured, yet individual. Learning to use it well involves a pretty steep curve, and, like a sophisticated piece of software, the learning curve keeps going as you get better, egging you on to dive deeper, deeper. For accountants and other financial professionals who need to go beyond basic adding and subtracting, there's a host of sophisticated functionality. Amortization? Yes. Compound interest? Certainly. Calculating Net Present Value and Bond yields? Of course.

Toda the 12c can be bought for under $50. But when it was launched on September 1, 1981, it retailed for $150 (equivalent to over $400 today). Even at that price it was an instant success.

(Excerpt) Read more at massmadesoul.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: calculator; hp12c; technology
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Almost a year ago during a thread on things made obsolete by smartphones, several of us cheered on the relentless HP12C, which is still a big seller.

I just saw this great article and hope it resonates with others.


1 posted on 10/24/2019 7:07:53 PM PDT by DoodleBob
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To: DoodleBob
The main calculator on my cell phone is an HP-48 simulator.

1 <enter> 1 + is 2.

2 posted on 10/24/2019 7:14:00 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (Who's the leader of the club that feeds on dead babies? M-O-L... O-C-H... M-O-U-S-E.)
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To: DoodleBob

Still have mine. Not quite as pretty as that one, but it works fine.

They’re still available...and still roughly the same price they were when I got mine 25-30 years ago.


3 posted on 10/24/2019 7:14:04 PM PDT by moovova
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To: DoodleBob

I remember in the mid-70’s being frustrated with HP calculators’ RPN-Reverse Polish notation.

However, it was a huge deal when HP came out with a calculator that didn’t lose it’s memory after it was turned off.


4 posted on 10/24/2019 7:16:04 PM PDT by be-baw
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To: be-baw

I can’t stand RPN calculators.


5 posted on 10/24/2019 7:17:09 PM PDT by ConservativeMind (Trump: Befuddling Democrats, Republicans, and the Media for the benefit of the US and all mankind.)
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To: DoodleBob

A lambaste of mine had the first HP-45 on campus. Every electrical engineer just stared at it on his belt.

https://www.hpmuseum.org

shows much of the old inventory. Reverse Polish notation; those were the days.


6 posted on 10/24/2019 7:17:27 PM PDT by organicchemist (Without the second amendment, the first amendment is just talk)
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To: organicchemist

Make that lab mate. My apologies


7 posted on 10/24/2019 7:18:27 PM PDT by organicchemist (Without the second amendment, the first amendment is just talk)
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To: DoodleBob

I’ve had several of those. Plus, I have my old HP-45 that I paid $125 for in about 1978. The battery died years ago but it still works if you plug it in.


8 posted on 10/24/2019 7:18:50 PM PDT by super7man (Madam Defarge, knitting, knitting, always knitting)
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To: DoodleBob

Back in the 70’s, my dad bought one of the first plug in digital desktop calculators. It could add, subtract, multiply and even divide.

As I recall, he paid about $400 for it.

At the time he was an estimator for a commercial glass company so it was well worth the investment.


9 posted on 10/24/2019 7:19:27 PM PDT by cyclotic (Democrats must be politically eviscerated, disemboweled and demolished.)
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To: DoodleBob
I never could get the hang of RPN.

I was a TI man through and through. I saved up my pennies and bought a programmable TI SR-52 while I was in High School, 1977.

I wrote a couple of games based on physics equations we learned in HS Physics. They were rip-offs of BASIC games: Battleship, and Lunar Lander.

with Battleship, you were given a random distance to the enemy ship, and you had to input an elevation for the main gun. You shot, then the calculator would display how far your shell fell short or beyond your target, or if you hit. Once you hit it, it would display how many shots it took.

With lunar lander, you were given an altitude and vertical velocity, and fuel quantity. You entered a thrust amount from zero to 100. Then the calculator would give you a new altitude and vertical velocity, and new fuel amount. The object was to get altitude to zero within a narrow vertical velocity, before running out of fuel.

You really had to use your imagination when all you saw were digits.

10 posted on 10/24/2019 7:22:35 PM PDT by Yo-Yo ( is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: DoodleBob
Here's mine. I think I could use about 5% of what it could do...


11 posted on 10/24/2019 7:23:14 PM PDT by EEGator
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To: moovova
I lost mine somewhere in the move from California to Florida ... still have the instruction book, tho.
I loved that calculator.
12 posted on 10/24/2019 7:24:19 PM PDT by RightField
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To: organicchemist

When I started college in 1971 there was a big controversy over whether calculators should be allowed on exams. The argument was that it gave “well off” students an advantage over the slider rule. By 1976, it was no longer an issue, everybody had calculators.

For awhile I had a Sinclair that was also RPN. It was great until it started to make mistakes. After that I could not trust it and got rid of it.


13 posted on 10/24/2019 7:25:38 PM PDT by super7man (Madam Defarge, knitting, knitting, always knitting)
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To: DoodleBob

80085


14 posted on 10/24/2019 7:27:44 PM PDT by Mr. Blond
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To: super7man

In the last year I’ve picked up a couple of slide rules from the ‘Bay. An aluminum Pickett and a bamboo Post Vesalog. Both for a reasonable price. Am slowly learning how to use them. There is a learning curve involved, but there is something elegant about them.


15 posted on 10/24/2019 7:31:13 PM PDT by hanamizu
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To: DoodleBob

Haven’t had time to go through the entire article, but right off the bat, it’s wrong.

The HP-12C was NOT the first HP calculator with RPN.

I got the HP-35 in 1972 when it came out, and the HP-45 a year later, and both used RPN

The ‘35 was the first scientific calculator.


16 posted on 10/24/2019 7:32:01 PM PDT by chaosagent (Remember, no matter how you slice it, forbidden fruit still tastes the sweetest!)
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To: DoodleBob

I’ve got a cheap Casio with a flip open vinyl cover. I keep it at my computer desk because it’s handy for banging out quickie calculations. I could just use the computer’s calculator but for some reason it feels clumsy using a mouse to type in the numbers.


17 posted on 10/24/2019 7:32:04 PM PDT by Yardstick
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To: KarlInOhio
Regular: 4.3 [x] 2.7 [+] 5.1 [=]
RPN: 4.3 [enter] 2.7 [x] 5.1 [+]

Ahhhh...once you get the hang of it, it's hard to go back.

My personal favorite was compounded annual growth rates. To find the CAGR of the DJIA rising from 5000 to 7000 over 3 years (11.87%), I'd go...

7000 [enter] 5000 [/] 3 [1/x] [yx] 1 [-]

18 posted on 10/24/2019 7:32:46 PM PDT by DoodleBob (Gravity's waiting period is about 9.8 m/s^s)
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To: hanamizu

I never used one, but a couple professors told me you get a deeper understanding after using one for some time.


19 posted on 10/24/2019 7:33:11 PM PDT by EEGator
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To: DoodleBob

Had mine since about the mid 80’s when I was required to get one for a college course in finance doing amortizations. Best calculator there is, mine still works perfectly. RPN makes more sense to me than non-RPN calculators.


20 posted on 10/24/2019 7:33:13 PM PDT by Oneanddone
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