According to the serial number, my trusty old 11C was made in 1983. It still works. My 48G was made in 1993, and still works, too.
But, one of my favorite calculating devices is my Dad’s slide rule from college. It still works, and I’ve never replaced the batteries.
I do still love my old HP handheld devices. But with droid48 on my phone and emacs calc on my computer, they mostly gather dust in a drawer. Can’t seem to talk myself into getting rid of them, though. Especially the 11C seems like an old friend.
Now it’s time get your nerd on. Let’s see those vintage (or new) calculators!
Yeesh, forgot the model numbers, but had those TIs with the red LED displays, the big’un with the card-reader and the other one without.
Then there was the other TI with LCD, silver case, think it had blue/gray “fields” where the trig stuff was, etc., and did all kinds of programmable stuff, but the display went wonky. Would blank on part of the display unless you pushed down where the ribbon-cable contacts were.
I have a few nice calculators, of which the best is a HP48GX. But they have been unused in a box for years. I just don’t often need to calculate things I can’t do in my head, when I’m not near a computer.
The old device I’ve been tempted to get out and carry again isn’t a calculator… it’s a Palm Pilot m500. Best PDA I’ve ever used, and it was only $40 brand new.
I even made a custom keyboard for it, which goes over the graffiti area:
Of course, the rest was heavily customized too… replaced the apps, the launcher, even changed some of the ROM.
@manithree Nice topic! That 48G is a gem. Does it have standard input too, or only RPN?
@ToyKeeper Graffiti is still the best. I totally agree that Palm Pilots were so good, and should have never gone away. And I would give anything for an Android smartphone or tablet with a good monochrome matte screen or E-Ink.
I think it has algebraic for solving, and maybe graphing. I discovered that CS graduate students don’t really need calculators very bad, so I never used it much. I used and programmed my 11C a LOT more.
I miss the battery life on my Palm Pilots. My last one was a Handspring with a huge phone module on top. My first smartphone, and it was awesome(ly nerdy).
Graffiti was okay, but slow. Not great for someone with bad handwriting. TealScript was a nice upgrade from Graffiti, and allowed the glyphs to be whatever shape the user wanted. But what I found most usable was Millikeys with a custom fitaly layout. I could type about 35 wpm on that, and it had all my most-used shortcuts built in for quick access.
I think there was an infix notation plugin for the HP48, but I never actually used it. Usually I either wanted a formula to plug values into (in which case the algebraic formula support was useful) or I had a bunch of numbers I didn’t immediately know what to do with, so I’d enter them on the stack and figure out the operations as I went along. That’s what RPN is really good at — out-of-order execution, or doing calculations in whatever order they come to mind. Like “I know I need to add these three numbers, and those two numbers need to be multiplied, and then I’ve got this other thing to factor in somehow, and then … oh, I see, if I divide this one by that one and take it to the power of the other one, I get a useful answer.” No need to figure out any particular order beforehand. On more traditional calculators, I’d usually need to write it down somewhere else first before figuring out the correct order to feed it to the calculator.
However, it’s even easier to work things out in a python shell / REPL. So I do that now.
I still have my Palm III and Tungsten T3. My Handspring Visor got lost when we moved to Wales.
For years, I made a living writing applications for Palm and Handspring PDAs. My favourite was for LA County schools. It used a barcode scanner slotted into the top of a Visor to scan student ID cards. Staff used it for attendance and on campus truancy sweeps. It could pull up a student’s photo which put a stop to counterfeit ID cards.
I had a the VisorPhone springboard but never did write much of anything for it.
I briefly had a contract to help with a BlueTooth protocol stack and email client.
Years later, I rewrote a program used to record primate behaviour. Person I did the work for bought a huge stacks of brand new surplus Palm Pilots for about $25 each. The idea was clever but the original code was a buggy disaster.
I used a PalmPilot for quite a few years, teamed with a Motorola ’phone that had IrDa data connection over GSM. 2400 baud IIRC.
It paid for itself many times over on just one job, when I was on holiday in France, and something needed to be fixed. Graffiti was pretty good at the time, and considering the hardware.
Also had an Apple Newton. Rubbish.
Also a Casio Cassiopea, a lovely thing, perhaps I’ll charge it up and see if it still works. It runs a varient of WinCe, which I like to think I pioneered on an in-flight entertainment system for Boeing, when MS was just a subcontractor (that didn’t last long before they got greedy).
These were the days before ’t internet and WiFi ubiquity. A T10 pipe was a marvellous thing to run a company on (that’s 10 Megabits/sec). Our video conferencing suite required six simultaneous ISDN lines. We were at the bleeding edge.
I fear that Apple and Android have killed innovation, except maybe for computational photography, but that’s a different topic.
Somehow modern devices don’t enthuse me as much as the old-school things.And it is always a delight when they still power-up, after all the years.
To some extent, yes. They both changed the incentives in ways which discourage community collaboration. The app store model is great for profiteers, but not particularly good for openness or end users.
I’d also place some blame on Trolltech. There was a blossoming open-source PDA community who put together really nice Linux-based devices, and their work included features which still haven’t been matched today. But Trolltech, the company which makes Qt, partnered up with the PDA hardware manufacturers… and they pretty much shut down the community efforts. Qt’s solution lacked the vast majority of features the community had created, but it was simpler and had nicer-looking icons, so it was easier to sell to brand new users. The community died, and the awesome stuff they were doing still hasn’t come back yet.
Then a few years later, Android happened. It mostly killed off the Trolltech-based devices and changed the incentive system in ways which have mostly prevented the kind of collaboration which was common before.
There have been other efforts since then, and one of the bigger efforts was the Ubuntu phone. But that project made a lot of mistakes, including the decision to use Trolltech’s Qt as its base… which still hasn’t caught up to the systems it killed off 15 years earlier. That wasn’t the only problem, but it was one of several core architectural mistakes which doomed the project.
So my ancient first-model Zaurus, with a dead community-based OS, is still more advanced than modern devices in some fairly important ways.
This is the main reason I don’t really use phones or PDAs any more. Today’s devices are a downgrade from what I had 15 years ago — they still don’t have the core features I relied on. And the problems are at a deep architectural level so I can’t fix it by myself.
Trolltech also buggered-up the Opera browser with their shenanigans. Which is still my mainstay, even though it then had to be ported to Google Blink. Which ruined a lot of nice things.
I still keep the last echt version around, and it still works as well as ever. Much better than the Chromium version, though at least Opera respect privacy, so the current versions are as good as Iron in that respect, AFAIK.
It also has the best ad-blocker baked in (I’m seeing 20 ads, popups and other silliness have been blocked on just this page) and a free VPN. Which is a bit flakey, since it is supplied by Google. But it is free, I think as in beer, except that Google gets to be the man-in-the-middle, and who knows what they do with that.
You don’t get any of that with Chrome.
Just as you can set up your DNS to use Google Public DNS on 188.8.131.52 or 184.108.40.206 and it will work superbly, probably much better than your ISP. It’s what I do. However the DNS system is such a creaky edifice that could fall down at any minute, so keep a few others up your sleeve and in your hosts file, even pay for a fixed IP as I do, so you might have a chance of getting into your server if it all goes horribly wrong.
Still, there’s always TOR, as long as you understand that everything you do with that also goes straight to the NSA…. After all, they did invent it, and released it into the wild to promote “free speech” ostensibly.
The brains behind Opera left and started Vivaldi, which is now at V2.0 after slow progress, and I’m giving it a cautious trial. I wish them well.
I seem to have run out of tinfoil for my head, perhaps I’ll lie down and take a rest.