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Thursday, 07 June 2007



Sometimes I am amazed that we found enough common ground to consider spending our entire lives together. It must be that opposites attract cliche` I keep hearing about. I am still crazy about you even after reading this. Sigh.

Émilie B

I'm laughing at you, Simon, and commiserating with your wife. Hey, you can't expect anything else : I spent about 2hours this weekend - and more, if you count 'tape' shopping - watching over the baby, during which time Frank *had to* make himself a wallet out of duct tape (ordering them off ThinkGeek was apparently too pricey). A more tangible geek badge I never saw.

Now you'll have to let us know if you splurge 200 bucks for the gizmo : Amy will be deserving yet more commiserating. ;)

Moksha Gren

Well put, my fellow geek. And though we've previously discussed the fact that I have no similar attachment to my office tools...I am completley with you in the significance of the geek arsenal. I'm crossing my fingers in hope that you find some way to find your manual's lost partner. However..I find it pretty funny how you and the manual ended up sharing a desk. Too busy fantasizing about your new slimline calculator to actually read the auction detials? I do understand.


Aim, I'm crazy about you too. I'm geek enough for both of us.

Émy, odds are good that I'll end up getting it. I should get a pretty decent bonus from work next month, and I may just be able to convince myself that I'm worth it.

Moksha, I swear I clicked on the actual calculator auction on eBay, and not the manual. My only guess, in my own defence, is that the calculator auction ended and timed out at the exact instant I clicked my mouse button, and I was taken instead to the manual auction and placed a bid without confirming I'd selected the correct one. That's the excuse I'm going with anyway.

Jayson Merryfield

I can relate to the inbred need to have geeky technology at hand just for the sake of it. Case in point - up until a few months ago, my basement was a repository for every piece of old computer equipment I could get my hands on. Lindsay finally made me recycle the truly useless stuff, though I've managed to keep my hands on a 486SX stashed at my parents house, and Mac Classic II carefully setup on a tv tray. Both of which serve no purpose other than to titilate my nerdbone.

Moksha Gren

I've actually seen that exact thing happen before, Si. You'd think the timing and probability involved would make it an incredibly rare occurrence...but if my old eBay customers were to be believed...it happens all the time.


Hi, Simon. My google blogs alert on "HP-42S" articles just pointed me to your post.

Sorry to hear about your misunderstanding. It IS a very good manual, though.

I love my HP-42S. I've had it since 22 June 1991, when I swapped a HP-11C to my uncle for it. He ended up sending the HP-11C back to me too about a year ago, since he found a simpler four-function calculator met his needs just fine.

I also bought a HP-48G on ebay in August 2002 for about $50, but I guess I found some of the same drawbacks you have with it so it sits in my nightstand.

That same month, when I thought HP was out of the RPN scientific calculator business for good, I bought a HP 32sii for my kids. I think it cost about four times as much as the 48G, ironically. My middle daughter uses it as her primary calculator for school. Of course now HP is back in the business, although the physical layout does not look as attractive as the old ones did to me.

We bought a HP-12C in 1988, but it came up missing a couple of years ago.

I doubt if you've stumbled on it yet, but I find that Free42 is a great substitute when I don't have my "real" HP-42 handy. You can see there that there are versions available for several different platforms.


It is not as nice as pressing the "real" buttons, but other than that works very well.

It would let you put your new manual to good use, and be sure you really like how it works before spending any money for the real key feel. I have my most frequently used functions and a couple of my programs assigned to the row of six custom softkeys across the top.

I have tried the Windows version a little, but have set up the Palm OS version as the default calculator on my Sony Clie SJ22. I usually use the real one when I am close to my valise and the Palm one otherwise.

The "standard" skin seems to be the easiest to use on my PDA.

It even has the advantage over the real calculator that importing and exporting programs is relatively easy. I have downloaded and installed several programs to my Palm that I would likely never be bothered to key manually into the real calculator one keystroke at a time (with no practical means of backing them up there either).

I use the BCD (decimal) version on Windows, as the arithmetic is a little more faithful to the original, but I use the smaller/faster binary version on my PDA.

Best regards,
Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Thu, 7 Jun 2007, 5:18 pm EDT


Oh Simon. You make me laugh and sigh at the same time. Good post!


I'm with you on the love for an old calculator. I still have my first scientific calculator, which is a Casio with a solar panel that still draws power from a light source. I bought it around 1982. When the calculator's single-fold "case," is open, there are buttons available on the unit's face, but also embedded into the inside of the back cover. I almost freaked out when a schoolmate folded the back cover under the calculator -- I figured the wires were history for sure.

The main drawback to old trusty is that it had no battery backup at all. If you didn't have a light source strong enough to power it, then you just sat there staring at a blank LCD.

I've never owned nor even used a graphing calculator of any ilk. Somehow, I managed to finagle my way through high school and college without a teacher that required them. And, no, I didn't just take General Math.


Jayson, without sounding improper, I have to assert that the frequent titillation of one's nerd bone is a vital occurrence.

Moksha, I feel justified in my modicum of indignity then.

Bill, if you come back here to read this, thanks very much for your comment. Now I want my 42S even more.

Tal, I do what I can. I'm often just thankful that it's not so much that my wife can't tolerate me any more.

Mark, I hold the very strong opinion that calculators are, generally, one of the worst things to use in mathematics classes. To teach math, one should never have to resort to a calculator. It's a great aid in calculation, but it's become a crutch for far too many who just want the answer without knowing how they got there.


Only you could get me that interested in a calculator.


"...calculators are, generally, one of the worst things to use in mathematics classes. To teach math, one should never have to resort to a calculator. It's a great aid in calculation, but it's become a crutch for far too many who just want the answer without knowing how they got there."

Abso-stinking-lutely, Simon! People can learn Chisenbop or even the Trachtenberg system if they have to do basic stuff.

Now I have "Pocket Calculator" by Kraftwerk in my head:



You're welcome, Simon. Hope you find one soon!

Fri, 8 Jun 2007, 6:41 am EDT


I hope you'll find and acquire your vintage calculator soon, Si.

But will it fit in your pocket protector, next to your fountain pen?

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