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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
71 hits

Recent Blog Posts

Nokia is dead
Wed, Oct 22nd 2014 8:05a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
Microsoft is taking a page out of IBM’s playbook and is killing off the Nokia brand. Future models of the smart phones in the Lumia series will be named Microsoft Lumia. Last month the Nokia Lumia 735 and 830 were launched, and they will probably be the last phones branded as Nokia. The mobile division of Nokia will […] [read] Keywords: ibm microsoft mobile

October Community Webcast – Wednesday October 15
Mon, Oct 13th 2014 9:05a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
This Wednesday it is again time for the monthly ICS community webcast. This month’s guest speaker will be Luis Guirigay, IBM SME for Social, Mobile and Cloud. Below is the description of the webcast agenda. Never before has there been more opportunity for IBM Notes Domino Enterprises! Join Luis Guirigay to learn about the latest […] [read] Keywords: domino ibm lotusnotes notes community mobile

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Tue, Sep 30th 2014 12:40p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Wed, Sep 24th 2014 12:41p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Thu, Sep 18th 2014 6:05a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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This morning Kristin Keene from IBM talked more about the upcoming IBM ConnectED 2015 in January at the ICS Community webcast. IBM realized that the last few years they been swinging over too much to the business side, and is now going back to a much more technical conference. As I mentioned the other day, […] [read] Keywords: ibm community


Survey about Notes and Domino directions
Tue, Sep 16th 2014 2:45p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Two more days to thank someone
Mon, Sep 15th 2014 5:45p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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IBM ConnectED agenda published
Fri, Sep 12th 2014 9:00a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
The agenda for IBM ConnectED (the conference formerly known as Lotusphere and IBM Connect) has now been posted. As previously announced, the conference is one day shorter than before, ending already on Wednesday. There are no jumpstart sessions listed for Sunday, but the Master Class sessions are returning that  day. The individual sessions have not been […] [read] Keywords: ibm lotusphere

#ThrowbackThursday – My old HP calculators
Thu, Sep 11th 2014 6:57a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
I have previously here on my blog mentioned my preference for HP calculators. Our first calculator at home was the HP-21, with a red LED display, which we got in late 1975 (if I remember correctly), soon after it was released. My parents used it for all different kinds of calculations, especially taxes (back then the Swedish tax system […] [read] Keywords:

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