HP 41C calculator

From: Tony Duell <ard_at_p850ug1.demon.co.uk>
Date: Tue Nov 16 18:40:21 2004

> The HP 41C is gone! It's amazing how many people wanted it even though
> it was broken. Thanks to everyone who expressed interest.

I am not suprised. Most HP41 faults are just bad connections (either
between the logic board and the keyboard/display or between the I/O
assembly and the keyboard/display) and can be fixed easily.

Corroded I/O assemblies due to battery leakage are quite common too, but
they can be repaired with care and a fine-tipped soldering iron.

IC failures are uncommon, but I have had the odd one. Sorting out logic
failures is hard because the connections are made when the case is
screwed together which means it's almost impossible to run the machine
with the logic PCB exposed. HP used a special 'test calculator' at the
service centres for this -- it consisted of a normal HP41 with the back
case cut in half (exposing the logic PCB end) and modified pillars/screws
to hold the logic PCB in place. I've never seen an official one, but
making a clone was an enjoyable afternoon's work.

The HP41 is still a very useful calculator. The 41C is the simplest model
with 64 'registers' (a 'register' is 7 bytes...) of user memory,
partitionable between programs and data. You can put up to 4 memory
modules in it, each adds another 64 registers, but doing that uses up all
the I/O ports. There was also a quad memory module which adds 256
registers using just one port. And then there's the 41CV which has the
full memory built-in

The top model is the 41CX. It's a CV with extended functions (string
handling, etc), extended memory (the ability to save programs and data in
named files in another area of memory) and timer (clock, stopwatch) built
in _and then some more functions on top of that, like a simple text editor.

Add on ROM modules include things like maths, stats, circuit analysis,
structural engineering, thermal science, financial, etc, etc, etc. And
ssytem extensions like extended functions and timer. And 'hacking
modules' (third party code, although AFAIK HP always made the physical
modules) like ZenROM which let you edit the machine's memory directly.
Serious hackers even made ROM emulators (using RAM rather than ROM) so
they could program the 41 in machine code.

And then there's the HPIL module with its extension ROMs (extended I/O,
HPIL Development, always called DevIL :-)) which let you connect this
little calculator to a disk drive, plotter, thinkjet printer, RS232
interface, HPIB interface, video display, data logger, etc, etc, etc.

And dedicated peripherals like a magnetic card reader, thermal strip
printer, barcode wand.

What do I have? About a dozen machines, mostly CVs, but the odd CX and
the odd C (including a very early C with all the original bugs!), a
couple of dozen modules, most of the peripherals, the machine code
development tools, and so on.

It's a great machine, and still very actively used

Received on Tue Nov 16 2004 - 18:40:21 GMT

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