Archived post

This is an archived post. Please click here to see the latest entries.

« When in Parkhurst, Have an Espresso | Home | »

When They Get it Right: the HP-12C

HP-12C.jpgIn 1985 I purchased my first personal computer: a Compaq transportable. It weighed 32lbs, had a screaming fast 8 MHz processor (no 4.88 MHz IBM dog for this power user), a 9 inch green-on-black screen, a 5.25” floppy drive (for disks that were really floppy), 1 Mb of RAM, and best of all, a 20 Mb hard disk — I never thought that I would need the 40 Mb option, and besides, that cost an extra grand. Total cost for a machine that could be toted about via its leather handle and that did not have a battery: $4,500.

Needless to say, that computer is only fit for use as a boat anchor today; even back then it could take two minutes to recalculate a large spreadsheet. My current laptop is literally hundreds of times faster, has thousands of times more storage, weighs in at a tenth of the weight of the Compaq, and in inflation-adjusted dollars it cost less that one fifth the price.

All of which makes Hewlett-Packard’s achievement with the HP-12C financial calculator the more amazing. The one that I bought in 1983 is sitting on my desk right now, and the same model can be found all over the financial world. It is still state of the art, and according to Wikipedia, it is HP’s longest lived product. Of course, its guts have been redesigned and the cost at Amazon is about half what I paid way back then, but you have to tip your hat to folks who could design a high tech product that is still a model of functionality and efficiency as it approaches its 30th birthday.


Featured posts

  • August 14, 2013
    Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
    History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
  • June 25, 2013
    Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
    Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
  • October 18, 2009
    When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
    We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
  • October 9, 2009
    D Afraid of a Little Competish
    So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
  • September 4, 2009
    How Regents Should Reign
    As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
  • August 29, 2009
    Election Reform Study Committee
    If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…

Dartblog Specials

Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address:

Help, Pecuniarily

Please note

This website reflects the personal opinions of its authors. Any e-mails received may be published along with the full name of the sender. If you wish otherwise, please say so.

All content appearing at should be presumed copyright 2004-2018 its respective bylined author unless otherwise noted or unless linked to original source.




March 2018
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31