Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting | Thursday, April 22, 1999

Drexel University

Hewlett-Packard Company Splits In Two

Early in March, it was announced that Hewlett-Packard would be dividing itself up into two separate companies; with the computer, imaging and printing divisions remaining under the HP name. The groups to be separated would be electronic instruments and medical, and this company has been only referred to as the "New Measurement Company" in HP press releases. It was later mentioned by those in the know that the Australian ACO would remain under the HP name. Despite the fact that computers have outsold instruments at HP by five to one, it is sad that such a split would have to occur in order to allow the smaller group to have greater autonomy and market speed. Of course, it was instruments on which the company was founded sixty years ago.

The New HP 6S and HP 6S Solar Calculators

Around the first of the month, Hewlett-Packard released two new entry-level scientific calculators for the middle-school market. Dubbed the HP6S and HP6S Solar, these two machines are smaller, lighter, thinner and less expensive than any previous machines. Basic (non-programmable) scientific functionality as well as base conversion and arithmetic, single-value statistics and fraction calculations are provided. The 6S runs on two alkaline cells and the 6S Solar uses both photovoltaic and a single backup alkaline cell (for low-light conditions). The Solar is silver while the 6S is deep metallic blue. Both have similar key and shift markings, and this actually makes the blue unit's markings rather difficult to read. The manual is short and contains only the bare essentials; appearing as if it had been written either at the last minute, or by an outside vendor. One might think that these units are simply rebadged calculators made by another company, but the PC board on on does say "HP" on it. Jim Lawson's Handi Calc currently sells the 6S for $12. and the 6S Solar for $14. Check out his detailed write-up on these machines provided both on the website at and also in this handout.

A New Jornada 680 Palmtop

Recently, HP announced the Jornada 680 palmtop computer, presumably to supersede the HP620LX and HP660LX machines. This unit is slightly smaller, lighter in weight and faster than its predecessors, with additional Windows CE functionality built in, A physical-feature comparison is below:

  HP660LX Jornada 680
CPU Speed 75 MHz 133 MHz
LCD Panel 640 by 240, 256-color 640 by 240, 256-color
Dimensions 7.8" by 4.1" by 1.4" 7.4" by 3.7" by 1.3"
Weight 20.6 oz 18 oz
ROM 10 Meg 16 Meg
RAM 32 Meg 16 Meg


The HP Calculator Museum on Disk

I recently received a copy of Dave Hicks' 2-CD set containing not only the entire contents of his HP Calculator Museum website (located at, but the user manuals and many applications pacs and books from almost all the discontinued calculators. This disk set is a winner and probably should be listed as a "must-have" for HP calculator collectors. The website portion is HTML and is navigated via web browser; while the manuals have all be scanned in using Adobe Acrobat .pdf format. Access to the manuals is either via links from the website portion of the disks (using the Acrobat plug-in) or directly under Acrobat, which runs significantly faster on my computer. It would have been nice if some sort of .pdf links within the calculator manuals existed so while outside the browser environment, one could jump between manuals without leaving Acrobat. However, since the scanning was done by a team of volunteers, I suspect that Dave simply accumulated the results of the team's work and didn't have time to add Acrobat niceties. Also on these CDs are high-resolution calculator images plus historical HP advertisements. It's really a fun collection of material.

Another Handheld Conference This Year

A recent email sent by Megha Shyam (of DaVinci Technologies) indicated that the groundwork is being laid for another HP Users Conference in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently looking at the third weekend in August as a possible event date.

Megha elaborates:

  • Possible Topics -

    A new machine from HP? may be

    With active HP participation, a panel discussion

    Palmtops, Palm Pilots and new directions?

    Use of Technology in Education?

    Programming contest

  • Looks like something new from HP later this year might be of interest to us. Stay tuned.