My Favorite Hewlett Packard Handheld
By James Grahame
It has been quite a summer for Hewlett Packard. They launched the TouchPad tablet in early July with much fanfare (and miniskirted dancers), only to discontinue it seven weeks later with a frenzied $99 blow-out.
To top it off, CEO Léo Apotheker announced that the company "needed to transform" and was looking for a buyer for its marginally profitable PC division. It was an epic public relations disaster.
At first glance, it seems foolish for the company to step away from the consumer market, but let's not forget that they're currently the #2 IT services company in the world (with annual IT service sales of about $40-billion), behind only IBM. So perhaps the company's emphasis on services and commercial sales is spot on.
At any rate, here's a look at my favorite HP hardware of all time -- the HP-35(s).
Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP 35 -- the first handheld scientific calculator -- on February 1st 1972. It carried a list price of $395 and cemented HP's position at the forefront of the calculator business for decades to come. Thirty five years later, they're back with the HP 35s -- a $59.99 retro-styled handheld.
"The HP 35s pays tribute to its revered lineage with a classic design that is reminiscent of the original HP 35, including protective raised edges so that the calculator rests nicely in the palm of one’s hand.
The new calculator is also HP’s most advanced scientific programmable calculator, featuring ample memory for keystroke programming, equation solving and more than 800 storage registers; 100 built-in functions; and a large, two-line display with adjustable contrast to easily view entries.
For greater flexibility, the HP 35s allows users to easily switch between Reverse Polish Notation (RPN), HP’s exclusive time-saving input mode, and the traditional algebraic mode. In addition, the HP 35s comes with a premium zippered protective pouch."
It's easy to forget how revolutionary the original HP 35 was - it offered a whopping 15-digit LED display and could handle trig and exponential functions at a time when competitors were restricted to the 4 standard algebraic functions. The market for such a complicated handheld was completely untested, and HP was stunned to sell more than 300,000 units by the time it was discontinued in 1975.
Useless Calculator Trivia: Bill Hewlett suggested naming it the "HP 35" because it had 35 keys. The new version has 43.
[From Richard in the comments: Have you ever visited the on-line HP museum? You might find some interesting info there, too!]