41 year anniversary of the HP41C

41 year anniversary of the HP41C

Postby hapewe » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:44 pm

41 years ago, HP launched the legendary HP41C calculator,. Unfortunately, there is no reaction from Hewlett-Packard with the HP41 anniversary, which I find kind of a shame.

For its 35th anniversary, the HP35 got a "successor" HP35S to remember this milestone.
It would have been great if HP had added or replaced the 35s with a 41s for the 41st anniversary.
A USB port and an HP41 keyboard layout would have been sufficient, long development work would not even be necessary.

After all, there is the DM41X from SwissMicros in the 41th anniversary year 2020.
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Re: 41 year anniversary of the HP41C

Postby Garth » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:00 pm

Unfortunately HP is no longer the company it once was. They also spun off their extensive lab instrumentation line for which they used to publish their hardbound 1.5"-thick catalog every year, to Agilent. Now it's Keysight. I'm very glad that SwissMicros has picked up the torch, except that for me, the reason to get into the 41 was HPIL and the ability to use the 41cx as a handheld lab instrumentation controller that I could throw in my brief case and take home every night, or easily unhook from the workbench and take to my desk at work, etc.. Unfortunately and foolishly HP discontinued HPIL long before they quit making calculators, and SwissMicros doesn't have HPIL or anything of similar function. The speed of the DM41X is truly impressive though. I have a 71B as well—actually two of them—but if the job is small enough for a 41 to handle, I much rather use the 41, for its RPN. There have been times however that the HP-41 did not have nearly the speed or memory needed for a given job. The DM41X has apparently solved the speed problem. It would be especially fun to see the DM41X's speed on the text editor, an area where the 41cx's slowness was especially irritating.
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Re: 41 year anniversary of the HP41C

Postby mike-stgt » Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:57 pm

Garth wrote:[...]for me, the reason to get into the 41 was HPIL and the ability to use the 41cx as a handheld lab instrumentation controller that I could throw in my brief case and take home every night, or easily unhook from the workbench and take to my desk at work, [...]

If today you replace your brief case by a laptop sleeve you may continue as accustomed. For me the V41 emulator, meanwhile enhanced to be virtual IL-able, is an adequate replacement. I did not touch a real HP41 since several years.

The available virtual IL devices (see here and this printer and that pen plotter) do not fit your needs? Then a bridge to real HPIL could be useful. For me most times V41 together with my oo82162A printer is enough. In case I need more, I have VilMA (virtual IL manager) to make a virtual loop as simple as connecting real devices.

Without HPIL (virtual or real) the DM41X is incomplete, or like an IBM product: still improvable.

My 0.02$
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Re: 41 year anniversary of the HP41C

Postby Garth » Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:08 am

The PIL-Box and PIL-IO look good. I have worked at home since 1992, so I seldom use a briefcase, and I mostly use a desktop PC (primarily for the better keyboard), not a laptop. Laptops existed—just barely—when I got started with the 41, but the 41 was much easier to program.

Where I worked in an engineering lab in '84-'85, I frequently had to take repetitive measurements with the lab equipment, and since it all had HP-IB (ie, IEEE-488), the 41 and an HP82169A HPIL-to-IEEE488 interface converter box looked ideal. For a production-test project though, an HP sales engineer dropped off an HP3421A data-acquisition unit (this one had HP-IL, not HP-IB) with relay cards loaded, for us to try out and get hooked on. I connected it to the analog power meters, RF relays, etc. on a test bench, and a friend who worked there and had a 41 wrote a test program and had it running, all in the space of one lunch time. A req was put in to buy a 3421 and a 41 with HPIL, but the management wouldn't approve the purchase, because the 41 was too easy to steal. Instead they got an IBM PC (for many times the price) and an IEEE-488 interface card. After three weeks of working with it, the two engineers working on it were still trying to get communications going through the IEEE-488 board. Additionally, the PC made huge new demands on the limited workbench space, and of course could not be unhooked and taken from the workbench to the desk and back.

I moved to a much smaller company and guess which one I got. Not the PC. I interfaced the 41cx to things like the HP3457A multimeter, HP8116A function generator, Wavetek 273 sweep/function generator, and a Cytec relay box. The relay box not only controlled signal routing but also functions on non-HPIB custom equipment I made in-house for our particular application. This was in addition to the usual printer and mass storage.

I seldom interface the calculator to the equipment anymore, but I still want the option to. I think the PIL-Box will last for decades; but I'm not so sure about PCs. At least they do seem to have stabilized in recent years. i have always been cautious about getting too dependent on PCs or their here-today-gone-tomorrow buses, OS versions (although now I use Linux exclusively), etc.. That's also partly why I don't use a smartphone. Our family has had a lot of smartphones, and in every case, major portions started malfunctioning after a couple of years, unlike my 41 which has, for 25 years or more, held some of the programs I use regularly, without ever re-loading. (It might have been more, but I did get the dreaded "MEMORY LOST" a few times when I was new to synthetic programming. That problem ended when I got the ZENROM.) Our color laser printer is down again (What else is new?), but I can even use my dependable old Epson dot-matrix impact printers with the 41.
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