RCL 20: People, Dreams and HP Calculators Paperback – 30 Sep 2002
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Technical people are often not very good storytellers. The chapters of 'RCL 20' are a pleasant exception. --Viktor T. Toth, rskey.org
You don't have to be a 'calculator nut' ... to understand the incredible excitement that these machines brought to their owners. --Viktor T. Toth, rskey.org
Any HP calculator fan will find it entertaining and enlightening. --Warren Furlow, hp41.org
This book marks the 20th anniversary of the Handheld and Portable Computer Club with reminscences by club founders, HP engineers and others of how HP calculators and portable computers have been bringing people together and changing their lives. Before the web, before PDAs, before PCs, one company provided a vision of how computers and software could change lives when put into the hands of ordinary people. Hewlett-Packard's amazing series of hand-held calculators and portable computers, begun in 1972, has introduced a generation of technically-inclined people to personal computing power. As these tiny computers have grown in capability to be depended on in space missions and on battlefields, people around the world have banded together in so-called 'user groups'. Through these, they've exchanged information, solved each other's problems, and enjoyed learning about (and playing with!) computers. In the process, they've also made friendships, started businesses, and contributed to the computing environment we live in today.One such user group, the Handheld and Portable Computer Club (HPCC), started in Britain in 1982 as an off-shoot of the huge US-based group PPC, and is still active twenty years later. This book celebrates the twentieth anniversary of HPCC. Inside: we see what the future of portable computers looked like in 1978; HPCC founders and members write about the club, and remember those members who have passed on; the founders of HPCC, PPC and other clubs discuss what they have learned by starting and running them; the engineers of HP's calculators reveal their thoughts on the company and its products; fans of HP's smallest computers explain what they find so special about them.
Top customer reviews
Most of the stories are highly personal and talk about the ways calculators changed our lives. It is amazing to read the story of your youth written by someone else - Frank Wales' story about choosing profession, Rabin Ezra's story about that amazing feeling you have when you meet other people with the same interests for the first time, Graeme Cawsey's story about ZENROM development when they had to squeeze every possible byte (including double usage of the version number and checksum bytes for the code), Gary Friedman's story about hardware tweaks for overclocking the calculator, W³odek Mier-Jêdrzejowicz's story about running the club and editing the newsletter... Quite a few of these things happened to every one of us, only the names are different. And that includes the thing that did not happen - fooling around with a calculator never got anybody a girlfriend. Oh well...
So was the book what I expected? Honestly, I expected more technical stuff, more history and even some off-color stories like 'How I was seduced by the dark side of the Force and destroyed the PPC club' by Emmett Ingram, or 'How I was hired by HP' by Bill Wickes, or even something like that PPC ROM User Manual's story about the state-wide quest for the right daisy wheel. Instead I get sort of the lyrics in prose, but the lyrics I couldn't put aside before I read the very last line. Not only because one always gets emotional while reading the story about his youth (well, we are not that old - as Ms. Darci Wood nicely put out, we just started that young), but because it is a book of vision. Grand vision of truly personal computers the users could understand and control. Vision we had once, and vision the personal computing industry lost. I doubt anything (including this kind of recollection) could motivate Hewlett-Packard to revive its Corvallis calculator division - we came to the end of an era of programmable calculators, and that era deserves a written history.
So buy RCL 20 - you will love it!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
RCL 20 (Recall 20) is a warmly-written, collection of articles, stories, personal remembrances, and information of that time and of those wonderful people.
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