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Hewlett Packard 42s Calculator


It used to be said that calculators would create a generation of people who could not do math, and maybe that is correct, but in contrast this calculator really rewards those who understand mathematics. It is the Hewlett Packard 42s.

Before they became a printer company, Hewlett Packard used to make some of the best calculators in the world. Starting in the early 70's and continuing for about 20 years HP was the quality leader in calculators. Most of their calculators were designed for people who were serious about doing calculations and used what is called "Reverse Polish Notation" or RPN to enter and execute calculations. The 42s among others also added a stack which would hold interim values without having to explicitly store to memory. These two features combined enable complex calculations with ease.

Of course, understanding this or the 600 functions built into the calculator introduced the user to a bewildering array of math concepts. I don't think I still understand exactly what all of the functions would be used for, but the calculator not only does the complex but also makes the simple things simple. The two line display shows what numbers you are working with. The functions I use most often are represented with actual keys. The remaining functions are available through "soft keys" which appear on the display just above the top row of keys.

One of the other distinguishing attributes of HP calculators is their durability. Those marks along the left side were from when my dog decided to chew on it. No problems. It is still working 14 years later. There is a story about an HP12C which made it intact and still operable after a pass through the digestive tract of a hippopotamus.

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  • Comments (3)

    i have a 42s hp
    i would like to use christensen soft ware info to set up programs i cant get the 42s to get past the stages that christensen has its called the quick calc 42 version2.0
    can you help me at all
    charles k schwartz

    by the way it is the rpn scientific model


    All true! Mine has almost 20 years, it is similarly damaged and works like new!

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    This is a single article from STUFF dated July 27, 2006.

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