It’s the same one I’ve mentioned in this blog’s ABOUT page, and featured in the banner image. My HP32s cost a princely sum to someone just out of Junior College in the late 70s, but what value for money it turned out to be. It came with manuals that were like text books, manuals that were a joy to read and literally work through. There were problem sums within – mechanics, statistics, trig … (I vaguely remember one example problem about a rocket) that were wonderful ways to explain how to use RPN on the calculator.
It also came with a zip case – padded on the inside, strong on the outside with a faux leather texture. There was a charger for the batteries. And the best thing about it were the buttons. You had to press firmly to get the buttons to do their magic (with the small, red LED display segments that looked like something out of a science lab), and the feel and tactile feedback enabled one’s fingers to dance quickly and surely. It was about confidence. You just knew from the buttons if something in the formula had not been keyed in right.
The calculator was a faithful companion during my years of engineering school and beyond. I had to extend it’s life with some deft soldering handiwork, and needed to put in a couple of bypass wires when the copper tracks on the mylar film going from the charging port to the battery area experienced a tear. I wish I had the ‘ol calc with me still. Perhaps I’ll go out to eBay one of these days to look for a unit in good condition – just for the fun and nostalgia of it.
What sparked off this round of reminiscing was this article from CNET on the new software versions (iPhone and Windows) of several calculator models – the closest to the HP32s being the HP35s. The Page on hp.com to view the software calculators on offer, and purchase online is here. The image below was screen-capped using Ubuntu’s screenshot capture utility (I also make extensive of the snip tool that ships with Vista).