I fell down a rabbit hole of reading about HP calculators this weekend. Help! Oh well, I guess I can at least share a bunch of interesting things I found out.

The HP 41C came out in 1979 and seems to have been one of the first calculators to build a real community around it, probably because it was designed to be expandable. Add-on software and peripherals were released for it.

People even "jailbroke" their calculators using what they called "synthetic programming". They figured out details of the internal instruction format and were able to do the equivalent of a VM escape exploit so they could do things HP hadn't intended:

In the 80s they brought out the HP Voyager series. Personally I think these are really cute. They're all the same hardware but they brought out different models targeting different use cases: 10C (basic calculator), 11C and 15C (scientific), 12C (financial), 16C (computer science)

The 16C I find particularly interesting - it was designed for programmers and had six buttons assigned A-F so you could type in hexadecimal numbers


The HP Voyagers aren't made any more, with one exception - the 12C was such a hit that the entire financial world standardized on it as their industry standard calculator. It's HP's best selling product of all time.

The modern versions look the same as the originals but internally they switched to an ARM CPU that's emulating the original CPU.


@fraggle Mine's been going strong for 20 years!

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