August 12th, 2009


New To Me Anyway

Look! Another Hewlett-Packard Calculator

Thanks, Bob and Jerry, for the "new" HP-42S calculator. Amongst the many HP calculators I've used and collected over the years, I have the 20S, 22S and 32S in a particular form factor -- the HP-42S is the same casing but more sophisticated. Despite the numbering, it is not a removable storage unit like the HP-41 series or the HP-48S or -48GX. And unlike the nifty but somewhat retro HP-35s, this is definitely a menu driven machine. Indeed, while it shares much of the functionality with the HP-32S II, it only has one function button, instead of the two functions and much busier silkscreening of the faceplate of the -32S.

But don't let appearances fool you. The HP-42S is a serious scientific calculator and a lovely unit for a self-confessed HP RPN calculator geek. (grin)

Resurrection Mode

First of all, the HP-42S came to me sans case and was dead. Fortunately the three Eveready 357 silver oxide batteries hadn't leaked, so I didn't have to deal with cleaning it out. A stop by Walgreens in Allendale solved the battery problem. Second, this machine had definitely been used and the exterior felt a little sticky. Once powered on, I discovered the right hand column of keys seemed very reluctant to work. So I whacked the calculator hard on its side and then pressed the buttons repeatedly. Cleared up much of the problem. Some shots of canned air did it a little better. One suspects it sat on the desk or lab bench and earned a lot of crumbs in its life.

Bottom line – it works, though I will have to watch the display and make sure it is actually doing the operations for a while. But I can throw it in my "commuting bag" I take down to the Kitty Room for writing during my sabbatical. Never know when I have to do Physics calcs for my hard military SF stories. (For example, 4 days 14 hours 10½ minutes to accelerate from rest to 41.67% the speed of light at 32g acceleration.) And anyways, I always run my calculations at least twice even with a first line calculator. (grin)


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