Bring Back the  

Why it was the right decision for HP to stop making the 15C in 1989 and why it is the right decision to start making it again now.

First we need some background history. When the 10C line of calculators was introduced in 1981, desktop computers were expensive, portable computers were unheard of. If you need to make calculations, a portable calculator was your best, and often only choice. When the Pioneer line was introduced in the late 80's, computers were still expensive and not very common. If you needed calculation power it made sense to trade up from a 15C to a 42S, or from an 11C to a 32S, because at this time it a portable calculator was still the primary source for performing calculations. Around the time the 48SX was introduced, desktop and portable computers are starting to get more common. Computers are becoming the preferred tool for complex calculations. What could only be done on a super computer a few years earlier can now be done on many engineers desktops. What has begun to happen with top of the line calculators, is they are used mostly for college exams. Some would argue that the calculator is now just a tool for college students. That after college the calculator will be replaced with a computer. To some degree I agree with this, but I will show that this argument only supports my point that HP should start making the 15C again.

Today a desktop with out a computer, is as rare as a desktop with a computer in 1980, whether that desktop belong to a student, engineer or executive. Even if it were not for the increased computational power of a desktop computer over a hand held calculator, the size of the screen and keyboard on a computer would make it a much preferred tool for complex calculations. For obvious reasons the use of a computer is not generally allowed on college exams. In this situation the 49G+ being the newest and fastest, is the tool to have. However, once college is over and the student moves into the real world, the limitations of the college exam room no longer exist. If you need to plot a few equations, or find the integral of a complex formula, you are going to use the tool that can solve those problems the quickest and easiest, a desktop computer. However if you are discussing problems in a meeting or at your desk with a few co workers and you need to find a quick answer to some not too complex problem, a hand held calculator is the better choice, even if there is a computer near by. With the advantages of the bigger keyboard, bigger screen, more powerful processor, and powerful software, there are also disadvantages. It takes much longer to set up a problem using these tools. A calculator program or calculator emulator are common on a desktop computer but for functions that don't appear on the numeric keypad of a standard computer keyboard you normally need the mouse, which isn't near as fast as hitting buttons on the calculator. I would argue that someone with a 15C could find the answer to whatever calculation that was at hand faster than someone using calculator software could launch the program and then use the mouse to perform the steps.

Another device that seems to come up in this argument is the PDA. I don't think it is hardly worth the time to address this point because the advantages of a calculator over a PDA for doing calculations are obvious. I will suggest and experiment, find a calculator program for you favorite PDA that suits your needs for common calculations, then get an HP 15C, learn to use the functions that you need from both machines, then keep both machines near by. Next time you need to make a quick calculation, see which one you reach for. I would also like to point out a simple fact. Touch screen technology has been around for a long time, but on virtually every desk that has a computer on it, there is also a keyboard. Think about it.

Why the 15C instead of the 42s or 32s? The simple fact that the 12C has been a successful product for over 20 years, speaks volumes about the form factor and quality design of the 10C series calculators. I think we can agree that a graphing calculator is not what is needed for the real world. Second, in order for this to be a tool for quick calculations, it will need to be convenient. To that end it needs to be both small and durable so that it can easily be carried in your pocket.

In conclusion, outside of college a large powerful graphing calculator is not needed or wanted. When relativity simple calculations are needed most people reach for a pocket calculator. I do real world calculations everyday, the 15C more than meets those needs. I believe that the 15C or a calculator with similar features and quality could become a standard among engineers. If a concerted effort to dispel the myths that RPN is more difficult to use, hard to learn and unnatural, the 15C could easily become a standard among many more people, just as the 12C has become a standard in finance.

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