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Archive for October 23rd, 2010

The World of Calculator Emulation – things to see and try

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Did you know that you can buy a brand new HP-12C calculator for $58?  The HP-12C.  If you were around back in the 1980’s you might know about the HP-12C.  Yes, Virginia, the HP-12C – the great RPN financial calculator in 2010 is the same HP-12C of 1981.  Nearly 30 years and this calculator remains, essentially, unchanged.  How can this be?  What’s the magic?  (Note: click any of the images to enlarge)


So what’s the big deal?  I don’t know.  I didn’t have a HP-12C back in the 1980’s.  But, through the magic of modern emulation we can find out about the magical HP-12C.  I checked the internet and in fact, there are quite a few HP-12C emulators out there that you can get for free.

Amazingly, I found a Windows 7 Gadget and a stand-alone application that emulates a HP-12C.  This is what the gadget looks like on the desktop along with some other gadgets.

On the web site where you can get this emulated HP-12C (see links below) it says that this is a toy.  Well, is it?    I spent about 30 minutes playing with this emulated calculator trying various financial calculations related to TVM (Time Value of Money), IRR (Internal Rate of Return), cash flow calculations, loan  payments, and a few more financial calculations.  The real HP-12C is programmable.  I did some simple programming on this emulated HP-12C and that works as well.  Also note, this is a RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) calculator.  So, if you have never done some basic arithmetic using RPN, well, here is your chance.

You can get the HP-12C Gadget and the HP-12C manual at these links

For Win 7, Mac OS, Stand-alone and Win 7 Gadget –
And you will need the manual from HP –

The World of Calculator Emulation

Now I was on a roll.  What other calculators can I emulate?  What about a high-end calculator like the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Silver Edition Graphing Calculator?  Feast your  eyes.  Here it is running on my Windows 7 machine.

I gave this calculator quite a workout including programming this emulated calculator in TI-BASIC.  The real version of this calculator can also be programmed in Z80 assembler language.  The real calculator has a USB interface allowing you to exchange programs between the calculator and a personal computer.  The emulated TI-84 to the left does not seen capable of this data transfer.  If it was, I would have tried some Z80 assembler code which I was able to snag on the Internet.

Someone put quite a bit of effort into writing this emulator.  In fact, the TI-84 is only one of a number of TI calculators that the underlying emulator can emulate.

What is questionable is that, it would seem, the ROM that the emulator needs to work would be Texas Instruments IP (Intellectual Property).

When installing the this emulator you have the option of getting the ROM from a real TI calculator or “Create a ROM image using open source software”.

You really need to use your own judgement on this.

You can get eveything you need to play “hands-on” with the emulator here – Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

October 23, 2010 at 7:27 am

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