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) .