Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting | Thursday, Sept 3rd, 1998

HHC ’98 : The HP Handheld Conference in Vancouver

Another calculator conference is history and this one gave us a glimpse into the new Australian Calculator Operation as well as its American sales and marketing arm. Jeff Blough from HP’s Vancouver, Washington facility welcomed the group and told us that we’d be seeing new and better things in the future. ACO’s representatives were Tanya Brooks, a product manager (sales/marketing) and Nigel Hooke, a mathematician. They primarily were there to listen to the group and bring back useful ideas. Hopefully, we impressed upon them the feeling that the HP line should maintain all the qualities of calculators to which we have grown accustomed.

There were nine speakers at the conference, plus a discussion panel. Two speakers (Megha Shyam and Ted Kerber) actually each spoke twice while Richard Nelson, Raan Young, Brian Walsh, Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz, Vern Lindsay, Jim Donnelly and I each spoke once. (See the conference agenda included in this handout.) Although two individuals representing Texas Instruments were present and did not speak, Megha devoted one of his talks on the newly-introduced TI89. This machine looks impressive with its 188K of "regular" RAM plus 384K of flash archival storage.

The panel, consisting of Bill Wickes, Jim Donnelly, Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz and Jeremy Smith, attempted to address the questions of (1) what will the next generation of calculator be; and (2) what hurdles will have to be overcome in order for the next generation to be produced. Since nobody from Australia participated, we probably did not hear any hints of what is to come. Later it was brought out that we might have heard something substantial had the TI folks not been present.

Three items which were of interest showed up in attendees’ collections: First, Bill Welsh from Corvallis had two items which turned out to be almost unique. The first was an HP95C that had no machine label in front and no shifted key positions painted on the top case. We weren’t entirely sure that this machine was a 95C until Richard Nelson took it apart and revealed the serial number on the main circuit board. Also, Bill had a machine which had a 48GX top case and a 48SX bottom case and keyboard. It turned out to be an SX and it was a version "H" – which had never been officially released. (We saw versions "E" and "J" but nothing in between.) The third item was something that Joe Rigdon showed off – it was a clear-plastic top case from an original HP35 with the hole for the "red dot" power-on indicator.

All in all it was a most enjoyable experience, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We have been assured by the Australians that they will keep in touch. There were rumblings that Jeff Blough would like to sponsor still another conference next year - we shall be waiting to hear what happens in the near future.

By the way, I have included my paper from the conference proceedings (on the PPC CD-ROM set) in this handout.

The Design-The-Calculator Contest Is A Winner

At the close of the conference, the winner of the design-the-calculator was announced by Nigel Brooke – and it turned out to be (surprise!) the Philly group. So now we have the fun problem of cashing in an HP coupon worth a grand with virtually no expiration date. The four people who participated in the design will have to make a decision on this, but there is no hurry.

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