Back in my freshman year of college (1988) somebody turned me on to RPN calculators, specifically those made by HP. I tried several models, notably the HP-22S, the HP-28C, and the HP-32S and weighing cost vs. performance vs. usability I ended up with the HP-32S. Getting any of the HP RPN calculators was an investment (especially for a poor college student). I think my HP-32S cost $70 or $80 (quite a sum for a calculator, especially when one looked at the Casios that “appeared” to be equivalent), but those of us who “knew the difference” knew it was worth getting the HP. I was never disappointed with my investment, it is a fantastic calculator. I used it all through college and for a while after that. Even now, while I don’t use the HP-32S anymore (but I do know which box it is in), the calculator software I use on my Treo 650 is RPN by Nth Lab – a great program that I have been using for years. The old adage is true: once you go RPN you can never go back.
So… you might ask, what got my thinking about my old RPN calculator again? I was walking to work yesterday and found a TI BAII+ calculator sitting on the ground. I picked it up and it seems to work fine (although nobody would confuse with a brand new one). I cleaned it up a bit and did a search to read about it. Brand new it seems to sell for about $40ish and on ebay they seem to go for $20ish, which is about what I expected. Just for a grin, I decided to search ebay for the HP-32S, which has been discontinued for many years. It seems that the HP-32S sells used for for between $125 and $180 (and i have heard of people buying them for upwards of $300). Absolutely astonishing, especially considering the HP-33S is now available and only costs about $40 – I guess people haven’t gotten the word about the HP-33S because – probably because HP didn’t make any decent RPN calculators for several years.