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July 2, 2009

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Geeking Out, c. 1990


I love this; Hewlett-Packard is selling an exact copy of its HP-12C financial calculator for the iPhone.

The iPhone version of the HP-12C is a near carbon copy of the actual machine. It not only looks the same, but it actually runs the same code as do the physical calculators. The iPhone version is actually a bit better than just a clone of the original, though, because HP includes a simplified portrait-mode calculator (the 12C is a landscape-mode device). When used in portrait mode, you can use the number keys, along with all the usual math operators and a couple of other functions such as square roots and memory—perfect for those times when you just need a basic calculator.

The real power of the HP-12C is found when you rotate your iPhone to landscape mode; what appears on the screen then is a photographic reproduction of the actual HP-12C calculator, complete with the gold-brown-orange-blue color scheme that made the original so…endearing? Because the app uses the actual calculator’s code, absolutely everything works just like it does on the real calculator.

I used a calculator just like this to win a middle school mathematics competition - in those days, it was called a “Calculator Competition,” because you could (gasp!) use a calculator. There was a school-wide thing, then a regional, and then a state final; it was a whole thing. The state final was the first time I’d ever seen a graphing calculator; that shiz blew my mind.

Posted July 2, 2009 at 5:21 | Comments (2) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted, Design, Object Culture, Science, Technosnark


I used a similar calculator all through high school---not a 12c, but a close sibling.

My favorite moment: a fellow student would ask to borrow my calculator. I'd hesitate. Are you sure? It's a bit funny how it works. They'd insist. I'd hand it over. Hilarity ensued.

Aw, RPN.

Posted by: Dan on July 2, 2009 at 07:16 AM

See, I had no idea FOR YEARS that they could make calculators to work another way. When someone called it "reverse polish notation," I thought it was the punchline to a bad ethnic joke.

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