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Hewlett Packard Journal, December, 1972 - The HP 9800-Series Calculators

Hewlett Packard Journal - The New Hewlett Packard 9800-Series Advanced Electronic Calculators
December, 1972 Edition

The Hewlett Packard Journal is a wonderful example of a corporate technology publication that truly tells the story behind the people, innovation, technology, and culture of the company. It is a benchmark publication in this realm, beginning publication in December of 1949, and finally ending in 1998 after publishing hundreds of high quality articles about Hewlett Packard products.

The December, 1972 edition documents the introduction of three new Hewlett Packard advanced electronic calculators, the 9810A, the 9820A, and the 9830A. These new calculators utilized a completely new architecture as compared to HP's revolutionary earlier 9100A and 9100B calculators. There are significant differences from the earlier machines. First, these machines use integrated circuits as opposed to the discrete transistor construction of the 9100A/B. Secondly, all three machines in the series are based on a common set of boards that effectively combine to create a subset of Hewlett Packard's 2100-series of 16-bit minicomputers. The operating code of the machines is effectively written in HP 2100-series assembly language and stored in IC-based ROM. Lastly, the hardware differences between the models of the three machines are primarily their display systems, keyboards, and mass storage devices. Of course, the firmware is different depending on the model, as well as differences in the amount of RAM for storage of programs and data. The machines also differ substantially in the way they operate, with the 9810 operating similarly to the 9100A/B with the three-level RPN stack displayed with numeric LED displays, as well as using similar programming methodology. The 9820 is an algebraic entry calculator with a 16-character alphanumeric LED display that shows the problem as it is being entered, as well as a unique and easy-to-learnalgebraic programming language. The top-of-the-line 9830 has a 32-character alphanumeric LED display, and is programmed in a fairly advanced version of the BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). programming language. Each machine has a particular audience, with the 9810 being a great upgrade path for users of the 9100A/B; the 9820 for intermediate users that need the simplicity of being able to enter problems as they would be if written on paper, as well as an easy-to-learn, yet powerful programming language. The 9830 also allows algebraic problem solving, as well as programming in the well-known BASIC programming language, commonly used by scientists and engineers to bang out quick programs for their calculating needs. Rather than having to wait for mainframe computer resources to run their programs, or buy expensive computer time on timeshared computer services, the 9830A could sit on and engineer's desk and provide answers to complex computing problems as needed. All of the 9800-series calculators had extensive I/O interfacing capabilties, and HP provided a nice array of peripherals that could provide substantial capabilities for printing, plotting, digitizing, data entry, and interfacing of instrumentation.

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