Wall Street’s Cult Calculator Turns 30

Mi-Bj412 Hp12C G 20110503171529

Wall Street’s Cult Calculator Turns 30 @ WSJ.com

Matthew Rothman bought an HP 12c financial calculator for his first job out of college in 1989.
Years later, he still has the same calculator. And he still uses it constantly, just like thousands of other 12c enthusiasts.
“Whenever I switch jobs, I just peel the old business card that is on the back and tape my newest one on,” says Mr. Rothman, head of quantitative equity strategies at Barclays Capital in New York.
Sales of the device, which debuted in 1981, haven’t slipped even after its manufacturer, Hewlett-Packard Co., introduced more-advanced devices or even, two years ago, a 12c iPhone application, which replicates all the calculator’s functions, the company says.

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  1. For the very same reason, the HP 15C app on my iPhone is the only calculator I ever use (well, I use Octave and Wolfram|Alpha for graphs, calculus, and really big stuff).

    My physical 15C was stolen out of my car years ago and, as much as I missed it, I didn’t want to shell out over $100 for a used one as they haven’t been made in years. I was so happy to get the app with exactly the same functionality (and even approximately the same form factor).

    I *love* RPN!

  2. I remember my dad using that when I was a kid. I’d try to use it for my homework but it made no sense to me at 10.

    I forwarded him this article and he replied to tell me that his trusty HP 12c was still sitting right next to him.

    The calculator’s as old as I am, give or take a few weeks.

  3. I’m still pining over the lost HP-15Cs I’ve had over the years. Best damn calculators. I still have a 32S but the batteries are dead. Sigh… And I think I have a 22S, but I’m too used to RPN mode even today.

    According to Wikipedia, HP might be doing a limited reissue of the 15C this summer, now that would be cool! And it shouldn’t be hard with the new 12C+ based on an ARM chip now, just re-program it it and put on some new keys. Simple!

  4. I still have my good ol’ 11C. Once you are in RPN, it is difficult to resign! At the time I got it, I was not so much fund of IT. If it would have been the case, a 16C would have been perfect!

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