Hewlett-Packard released the HP-28C in 1986. It blew me away. To me, this calculator was a dream coming true. Just imagine, you could perform symbolic computations on a pocket calculator! As seminal as the HP-35 was in 1972. Before the 28, you needed a much bigger computer to unleash the power of symbols. To put this in perspective, think about this way: Stephen Wolfram started the development of Mathematica the same year. He released version 1 in 1988! Today, you may say, “meh, I don’t do Math, but my phone can do!” To the first argument, I’ll answer your loss. To the second: you are right.

New symbols - (27)

Just seeing Hewlett-Packard fading out of the calculator market is undeniable evidence of this progression. Luckily, newcomers are filling the gap, such as Numworks with their amazing N0100, or SwissMicros with the DM42 (waiting for the DM41X 😊). If, like me, you are not quite ready to embrace math on your mobile phone (yuck), know that there are few upgrades available. On the Numworks side, after the hardware upgrade (N0110), the company released version 13.2.0 of the software. I am amazed by the versatility and how feature-packed this machine is.

New symbols - (38)

I still have an issue with using the keyboard, but that’s just my lack of practice. To illustrate this post, I want to quote the new capability offering additional results for your integer, fractional or complex results of your computations. Of course, there’s more in the upgrade, such as dimensional calculations, improved Python, etc. Similarly, as always, the new release of Mathematica ( comes with a plethora of improved and new capabilities. I cannot resist running a Taylor series in a blink, something I ran on the HP-28C and created an animation out of it as soon as the HP-28S was released (upgraded from 2 KB to 38 KB of RAM). And it took tens of minutes.

New symbols - (36)