HP calculator goes back to the future

It commemorates the 35th anniversary of the first one.

Mike Yamamoto Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Mike Yamamoto is an executive editor for CNET News.com.
Mike Yamamoto
This is the new one--could've fooled us Hewlett-Packard

Believe it or not, there are some retro gadgets that are even too old for us. So we must seize on them while we can, because soon the only machines that will fall into this category will be from the Industrial Revolution.

Enter the HP 35s calculator, a new version of the original HP-35 (note the hyphen) released in 1972, which is being trotted out from the rest home for its 35th birthday. The seminal gadget has been updated to include "ample memory for keystroke programming, equation solving and more than 800 storage registers; 100 built-in functions; and a large, two-line display with adjustable contrast to easily view entries."

An original from fellow Craver Stephen Shankland, who claims it still works--if it's plugged in

OK, but why this anniversary is so special eludes us, other than as an excuse to remind the world that the calculator "revolutionized the market by virtually displacing the then-ubiquitous slide rule and marked HP's first consumer product." Yes, we understand that it's been 35 years since the launch (duh), but does that mean that we'd have celebrated a 17-year anniversary in 1989 if it were named the HP-17? Or maybe the number 35 is HP's answer to Rolling Rock's 33.

If we sound a bit snarkier than usual--if that's possible--it may be because only the rich kids in our day could afford HP calculators, while working-class chumps like us had to settle for the lesser Texas Instruments models. Yeah, we know, we're old as dust. But at least our calculators weren't made of wood.