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New/Old Toys - RonO's Ramblings

Sep. 2nd, 2011 04:24 pm New/Old Toys

As has been pointed out by a number of people, HP has announced that it will soon be shipping a limited edition HP15C (clearly built on new parts since they report a 100x speed improvement).

Many people I know will be wanting to pluck down the $99.00 to get one.  I’d be thinking about it as well, except…

I have (somewhere – probably in an unopened box) a fully working HP11C (the 15C’s little brother).  Back when I was taking graduate classes through NTU Walden University, I had a couple that required real math during tests.  The first time I encountered one of these, I attempted to use the RPN calculator app on my Palm OS device.  But the proctor at Elgin Community College – where I took most of my tests – didn’t like it because of its other capabilities (which didn’t include going on the net).

They provided me with one of their loaner calculators – which were slightly more than a 4 function calculator.  But they used AOS(?).  Years of using my HP11C in college trained my brain to use calculators in RPN – Reverse Polish Notation.  So trying to do anything more than straight line addition or multiplication on an AOS calculator slows me down significantly (and I often loose my place).

So I dug out my trusty HP11C.  After confirming that the batteries were indeed dead, I took one of them to Wallgreen’s (or CVS) and got a new set.  Once I put them in, my old HP11C was at 100%.

Of course thinking about this calculator, I recall some of the other things I used it for.  In college, I rarely had any serious use for programming it for classes.  If I needed a program, usually I was required to write it – being a Computer Science major.  In many other cases, by the time I worked out the math to get to the arithmetic – I’d gone too far to have any real advantage with a custom program.

However, I did keep a few programs around.  The one I used the most was one that performed the operation “x dy” – as in “4 d6,” not some sort of calculus operation.  I tended to use this more when GMing  than as a player, but would often pull it out when I had a lot of dice that needed to be rolled.

I suspect I kept a few other – probably related – programs in there as well.

One other odd use I had for this calculator was figuring out what I could fit on the side of cassette tapes – mostly “mix tapes.”  Since it had two functions that converted from H.MMSS to H.fraction, I could easily take the times off of the liner notes for a track, and add them together to see if they exceeded 45 minutes or not (following my brother’s lead, I always used C-90 for tapes, finding C-60 too short for most uses, and knowing that C-120 were too thin for repeated play on decent cassette equipment) .


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