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Coolest Calculator Ever - and now you can have it!
Karl-Henry Martinsson    

HP-48SX I have been using HP calculators since the mid-70's, when my cousin (who worked for Hewlett-Packard in Sweden) brought an HP-21 to us. When I was in 8th grade and we finally were allowed to use calculators during math class, I purchased the HP-15C, a programmable scientific calculator. In 1987, when I was in high school, the HP-28C was released, and I got it as soon as it came out. The next year I upgraded to the improved HP-28S (32kB instead of 2kB and a 1 MHz processor instead of 640 kHz). Both were clamshell designs. I also got a HP 82240B infrared printer, which used thermal paper.

In April 1990 I was getting the HP-48SX as soon as it came out. I could use the same infrared printer I already had, and I also got an expansion memory card (128 kB, I believe). I used this calculator for many years, and still have it, even if it is not working fully, due to a faulty on/off switch (which seems to be a known issue on these old units). My next project will be to open my calculator and fix this problem...

The HP-48SX had a serial port, built-in Kermit file transfer and infrared communications. There was a large set of programs and utilities available on several bulletin board systems (BBS) and later on the Internet. Most notable were Joe Horn's Goodies disks. Many programs can be found at hpcalc.org.

Back in the late 1990's I found some emulators that let me run a HP-48 on my Windows computer. It required a ROM image from the original calculator, which I of course still had. Then in 2000, HP released the ROM images for free downloads. Very cool!

The emulators have evolved, and now everyone can get a HP48SX, or it's successors 48G and 48GX, on their desktop. It is actually very simple. You just need three small downloads to do this:

* The free Emu48 emulator by Christoph Gießelink

* A HP-48SX ROM image

* A photo realistic skin, for example this one by Arno Kuhl or the one to the right by Growik

Simply unpack the Emu48 installer and run it. Put the ROM image in the Emu48 directory and use the convert.exe program to convert the ROM image. Then copy the files for the skin into the same directory. Launch the program, and you have a really cool calculator. Everything works, including programming! More skins, as well as other programs, can be found at hpcalc.org.

HP calculators, with the exception of the business models (designated by a B in the model name) use Reverse Polish Notation (RPN). It is a faster and better way to calculate, especially more complex computations, but can be confusing to non-engineers/technical users. I highly recommend to learn this, though.

So go get this calculator for your computer and start playing!

Mar 25, 2011
74 hits

Recent Blog Posts

Is the break-through for smart watches almost here?
Thu, Aug 28th 2014 8:25a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
In a few days, Motorola will present their highly anticipated Moto 360 smart watch, and at the IFA trade show in Berlin next week LG will show off their latest entry in the battle for the hearts (and wrists) of geeks everywhere, the G Watch R. Both watches are round, as opposed to previous entries […] [read] Keywords:

jQuery – A flexible way to show/hide sections
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Yesterday Stephen Gainer blogged about a small Javascript problem he had. Brilliant!  I gave my customer exactly what he wanted!  No muss no fuss!  I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.  As soon as this was done, my customer came back to me and said he needed four more of these. My solution, […] [read] Keywords: development javascript

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Tue, Aug 19th 2014 8:45a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Thu, Jul 24th 2014 1:40p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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IBM Connect becomes IBM ConnectED in 2015
Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 12:25p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Code snippet – DateClass
Mon, Jul 21st 2014 6:45p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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