slick bits in computers (WAS: VAXen Rule!)
mcguire at neurotica.com
Wed Aug 9 19:13:38 CDT 2006
Tony Duell wrote:
> They don't have much of a following, but I think the HP desktop
> calculators up to about 1977 (that's things like the 9100, 9810, 9820,
> 9830, 9815, 9825) are very interesting and elegant machines. Maybe
> they're not computers in the strictest sense, but they're darn close.
I have a 9815 and a 9830 in my storage locker, both with power supply
problems. I hope to move into a house with more workspace within the
next couple of months; when that happens I'll pull them (and lots of
other goodies) out and try to bring them back to life.
Are schematics around for those machines, do you know?
> Totally useless trivial point about the 9810 (and none of the others). It
> can be claimed to be a 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 or 16 bit machine :
You, sir, are a geek of the very highest order. ;)
> Agreed. Time was when I read about a new HP handheld calculator and I
> wondered how I'd afford it. Now that worry has been taken away, I don't
> _want_ it. I made the mistake of buying an HP49G as soon as I saw it.
> The first ROM versions were so buggy as to be unusable (and to be
> honest, while later flash upgrades have fixed some bugs, they've also
> added some), it was mis-advertised, the keyboard is horrible, and so on.
> I wrote a letter to HP complaining about this, they didn't even bother to
> reply (and yes, I did include return postage). That is not the attitude I
> expected from a once-great company.
They didn't even REPLY!?!
> No, I'll stick with my old 67, 41, 71, etc machines. Those work, they
> behave as advertised. And I can understand them.
Yep. I have a 41CX and a 28S on my desk, and a 41CV (with HPIL module
and HPIL<->HPIB converter) in my electronics lab. I have a 48SX (I
actually have most models of HP handhelds in my collection) and I
actually do like it, but it really doesn't see much use.
> And that's just calculators. Their test gear was great too. As an
> example, take a look at the manual for the 5245 counter (the 5243 must be
> similar, probably others too). Building a decade counter, latch and
> display (nixie) driver using 8 transistors and no ICs is a major hack
> IMHO. Every time I read an _old_ HP service manual, I am filled with
> admiration for the way it was designed and constructed.
Is that the one that used the cool trick with the neon lamps and the
photocells? That's really good stuff.
> Alas not any more. Their modern stuff (printers, digital cameras, etc)
> seems to be cheap and nasty. Probably no worse than anybody elses, but no
> better either.
Yep, gone the way of the suit. Quality and innovation are things of
the past...along with repeat customers. No modern company will ever
have the customer loyalty that HP had for test equipment and DEC had for
computers. It is a shame.
Cape Coral, FL
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