Happy 40th Anniversary to the Iconic, Timeless HP 12C Financial Calculator! (2022)

Pictured above is the HP 12C Financial Programmable Calculator, available from the Hewlett-Packard website for $69.99. What makes this calculator totally unique among all consumer electronic products is that it was first introduced by HP 40 years ago at a retail price of $150 (more than $450 in today’s dollars) in 1981, and yet even today is considered to be a relevant, up-to-date, “state of the art” product for financial professionals, CPAs, financial analysts, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, investors, and finance professors. I have used HP-12C financial calculators on a daily basis since the 1980s and currently own five of them: two original 12C models, one 25th Anniversary models (released in 2006), and two “Platinum” HP 12C models (sells for $79.98 and has more processing power and storage space than the regular HP 12C, and also features both Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) and Algebraic entry modes – more on that difference below). Now that it’s 2021, and since I couldn’t find anybody else who has done so already, let me be among the first to say “Happy 40th Anniversary, HP 12C Financial Calculator.”

If you aren’t convinced that the HP-12C financial calculator is maybe the only consumer electronic product from 1981 that is still relevant and up-to-date after 35 years, browse a 1981 Radio Shack catalog here (check out the telephones, stereo equipment, reel-to-reel tape decks, cassette players, portable stereo systems, 8-track tape players, telephone answering machines, TV antennas, radios, calculators, “microcomputers,” typewriters, etc.) and see if you can find any other consumer electronic available in 1981 that is still considered relevant and up-to-date today! If you can find an example, I bet there won’t be very many!

To get an idea of how much consumer electronics have advanced in the last 40 years in both quality improvements and price declines, the 1981 Radio Shack catalog features the “top-of-the-line” microcomputer for an “unbelievably low price” of $3,450 and a dot-matrix printer for $1,960 on p. 172, see graphic below. In today’s dollars, the computer would cost $10,500 and the printer would cost $6,000.

Here are some related links about the HP-12C Financial Calculator:

1. Almost fifteen years ago in the very early days of CD, I wrote a post about the 25th anniversary of the HP-12C in 2006, here’s an excerpt of that post:

The goal of developing the HP-12C was to have a sophisticated programmable financial calculator, that would be small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, would have long battery life and would meet the HP “drop test” – the ability to withstand a fall from a desktop onto a concrete floor. HP worked with a team of researchers who had Ph.Ds in numerical analysis, mathematics, electrical engineering, and computer science to develop the 12C.

The decision was made, for the ultimate mathematical and computational efficiency, to use RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) for data entry (with no need for Equal key on the calculator), instead of the traditional algebraic entry (which uses an Equal key on a traditional calculator). For example, instead of 2 + 2 = 4 (algebraic entry), RPN entry would be: 2 ENTER KEY 2 + (the mathematical operation comes last). Although mathematicians and engineers were comfortable with RPN, HP was concerned that finance professionals would have trouble accepting RPN, but the calculator became a huge success among the finance crowd, and is still used widely today.

2. Also in 2006, HP had a backgrounder on the HP-12C titled “Some things at CES never go out of style – HP’s 12C hits 25-year mark in 2006,” here’s the opening:

The first business “personal computer” was unveiled, Pac-Man was the blockbuster video game, and Chariots of Fire was a box office hit when HP introduced a $150 pocket-sized device that revolutionized financial calculations for people on the move. The big hits of 1981 are now history, but the HP 12C financial calculator is still going strong. Instantly recognized for its unique horizontal layout, the HP 12C financial calculator has sold in the millions to investors, real estate professionals, accountants, loan officers, business students and teachers.

The HP 12C financial calculator, the product of a vision by HP’s labs and an Iowa farm boy with a love for physics, is an iconic consumer electronics product that is still sold virtually unchanged under its original name and model number 25 years after it was introduced. The HP 12C that’s sold today acts and looks just like it did when it was first snapped up by thousands of financial and real estate students and professionals at its worldwide debut. Few other products of industrial design have achieved such a classic distinction.

3. In 2003, HP introduced the HP 12C Platinum that allows the user to select either entry mode: RPN or Algebraic. Although once you get comfortable with RPN, I can guarantee that you will NEVER want to go back to traditional Algebraic entry, it is TOO slow and inefficient. Here’s a comparison of the HP 12C vs. the HP 12C Platinum models (e.g., HP 12C Platinum has “Undo” and “Backspace” buttons which the HP 12C lacks).

4. Here’s one explanation of why RPN is more efficient than the Algebraic entry mode:

RPN is an extremely powerful system and when mastered can save you keystrokes and thus saving you time. This would mean that you would not need to use parenthesis in your calculations. The RPN mode also shows you the intermediary results in your calculations, which makes complex calculations easier to keep track of.

5. Here’s the Wikipedia entry for the HP-12C, which is described as “HP’s longest and best-selling product, in continual production since its introduction in 1981.”

6. In 2011, CNet wrote about the 30th anniversary of the HP 12C in an article titled “HP 12C calculator: Still up-to-date after 30 years,” here’s a slice:

You probably change your computer every couple of years and update your phone based on Apple’s release cycles. But chances are that inside your briefcase or in your desk drawer, there’s a gadget that hasn’t been changed for decades. It still works well, and you like it just the way it is.

The device in question is the HP 12C calculator, first launched exactly 30 years ago today, on September 1, 1981. Ever since, without much fanfare, it’s been a quietly vital tool in finance, business, and academia. According to HP, the 12C is still one of only two standard calculators permitted for use during financial professional certification exams. This is because when it was released, the calculator offered more-accurate computations than the federal standard. It also features an unmatched keypad layout that provided unprecedented ease of use. The device itself is compact enough to fit in a pants pocket.

7. Also in 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported on the HP 12C’s 30th anniversary in the article “Wall Street’s Cult Calculator Turns 30,” here’s an excerpt:

Thirty years after the launch of the 12c, it’s still commonplace for financial analysts filing into a conference room to set down their calculators next to their papers and cellphones.

Indeed, the 12c, which costs $70 on H-P’s website, is H-P’s best-selling calculator of all time, though the company won’t reveal how many units it has sold over the years. (A standard calculator costs about $10.) Its chief competitor is Texas Instruments’ $28 BA II Plus, which is the only other calculator test-takers are permitted to use on the official CFA exam.

The 12c is slim, black and gold, and rectangular, just over five inches wide by three inches high. It runs on an unconventional operating system called “Reverse Polish Notation,” which eschews parentheses and equal signs in an effort to run long calculations more efficiently.

That may be one reason users are reluctant to switch. “I’ve become so addicted to it that I am unable to use the iPhone calculator correctly,” says John Lynch, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management Group in Charlotte, N.C.

The system tends to render the calculator mystifying to the novice user. Senior portfolio managers, who use it to calculate bond yields, rates of return and present value, among other things, say they enjoy watching their younger colleagues struggle to master its quirks.

“One benefit is that when I leave it on a conference table here at our offices, none of the young analysts know how to use it,” says Christopher Wolf, co-chief investment officer at Preservation Trust Advisors LLC, a mutual-fund firm in San Francisco, who bought his 12c in the early 1980s. “It’s like an early fingerprint-recognition system.”

MP: The Schumpeterian forces of creative destruction have made almost all consumer electronic products from the early 1980s obsolete today, having been replaced by products that are better, faster, more durable, and cheaper. But possibly more than any other consumer product that was available in 1981 (think cars, phones, cameras, TVs, stereo equipment, computers, etc.) the iconic, timeless HP 12C Financial Calculator stands alone as maybe the only electronic product that has survived the last 40 years of tsunami-level tidal waves of “Hurricane Joseph’s” creative destruction that has destroyed and replaced almost all other 1981-era consumer products!

FAQs

Is the HP-12c still used? ›

Ever since, without much fanfare, it's been a quietly vital tool in finance, business, and academia. According to HP, the 12c is still one of only two standard calculators permitted for use during financial professional certification exams.

How do you calculate yield to maturity on a financial calculator HP-12c? ›

To calculate the YTM, just enter the bond data into the TVM keys. We can find the YTM by solving for i. Enter 6 into N, -961.63 into PV, 40 into PMT, and 1,000 into FV. Now, press i and you should find that the YTM is 4.75%.

Why is the HP 12C so popular? ›

One of main reasons for the HP 12c's success is the way it was designed at that time. It is no secret that Hewlett was a big fan of calculators. Harms believes that the 12c's success was the result of uncompromising quality and an enormous amount of work and forethought plus a “certain amount of luck”, he acknowledges.

When was the HP 12C released? ›

The device in question is the HP 12C calculator, first launched exactly 30 years ago today, on September 1, 1981.

Is hp12c a programmable calculator? ›

The HP-12C is a financial calculator made by Hewlett-Packard (HP) and its successor HP Inc.
...
HP-12C.
Calculator
Programming language(s)keystroke programmable (fully merged)
18 more rows

How do you calculate YTM for yield to maturity? ›

Yield to Maturity = [Annual Interest + {(FV-Price)/Maturity}] / [(FV+Price)/2]
  1. Annual Interest = Annual Interest Payout by the Bond.
  2. FV = Face Value of the Bond.
  3. Price = Current Market Price of the Bond.
  4. Maturity = Time to Maturity i.e. number of years till Maturity of the Bond.

How do you calculate yield to maturity on interest rates? ›

Yield to Maturity
  1. C = Coupon/interest payment. ...
  2. Yield to Maturity Examples. ...
  3. The approximate yield to maturity of this bond is 11.25%, which is above the annual coupon rate of 10% by 1.25%. ...
  4. C = future cash flows/coupon payments.

What calculator is allowed for CFA? ›

Only two calculator models are authorized for use during CFA® Program exams: Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional) Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige)

Which is the best calculator for CFA? ›

Best CFA Calculator Guide: TI BA II Plus vs HP 12C
  • TI BA II Plus: A popular & value-for-money workhorse. BA II Plus pros. BA II Plus cons.
  • HP 12C: Sleek and prestigious, but be aware of the RPN. HP 12C Pros. HP 12C Cons.
  • Our recommend CFA exam calculator.
6 Jun 2022

Where is the HP 12C made? ›

A: HP calculators are either made in China or the Philippines. There are two factories making them in China.

What kind of battery does an HP 12c take? ›

3-volt CR2032

How many batteries are in the HP 12c? ›

see less HP quietly upgraded the processor a few years ago, necessitating more power. The current HP12C models (HP 12C, HP12C 30th Aniversary, HP 12C Platinum) use 2 -CR2032 - 3 volt batteries. If the battery door is half as wide as the back of the calculator, it's a later model using 2 batteries.

What is the oldest HP laptop? ›

The HP-110, HP's first laptop computer, was an industry breakthrough. Weighing 8-1/2 pounds, this notebook-size computer had a 16-bit IBM PC-compatible processor. With 384K ROM and 272K RAM, the HP-110 had the largest amount of memory available in a portable computer when it was introduced.

What happens if I reset my calculator? ›

Resetting your TI-84 calculator will wipe all data and programs from the device and restore the original factory settings.

What key button is used to clear the memory stored in the calculator? ›

Before using the calculator memory, it is good practice to always clear any previous data stored in the calculator using the key sequence (CLR) (Memory) (Yes) . Note that this clears all the calculator memories.

What are the memory keys on a calculator? ›

Memory Operation

To recall the value stored in memory use the key 'MR'. To add to the value in memory, press 'M+'. To subtract a value from the memory use the key 'M-'.

How do you clear your calculator app? ›

Use your Calculator app
  1. To delete part of an entry, tap Delete . If you don't find Delete , tap DEL.
  2. To clear all of an entry or to clear a final result, tap AC.

How do I calculate installment per month? ›

Equated Monthly Installment (EMI) Formula

The EMI flat-rate formula is calculated by adding together the principal loan amount and the interest on the principal and dividing the result by the number of periods multiplied by the number of months.

What is the best HP financial calculator? ›

CFP Board of Standards

This means your best choices here are the HP 10bII+, the HP 12C, the TI BAII Plus or the TI BAII Plus Professional. Graphing calculators (TI 83 Plus, TI 84 Plus CE) are not acceptable.

What does 12 monthly payments mean? ›

12 Equal Monthly Installments, for convenience

These are not rent payments for the month, instead they are installment payments. If you actually had a lease for the entire year, which is never the case, then the cost, and the related monthly installments, would be higher.

What is the formula for calculating annuity payments? ›

The calculation of an annuity follows a formula: Future Value of an Annuity =C (((1+i)^n - 1)/i), where C is the regular payment, i is the annual interest rate or discount rate in decimal, and n is the number of years or periods. Basically, the interest as a decimal is added to 1 and raised to the power of n.

What is the difference between scientific calculator and programmable calculator? ›

What is a scientific calculator? Calculators that have functions such as trigonometric functions are generally called scientific calculators. What is a programmable calculator? A programmable calculator is a scientific calculator with algebraic memory functions.

What is the difference between programmable calculator and computer? ›

A computer can perform any operation that a calculator is capable of performing, but a calculator cannot carry out the logical and highly complex problems. The reason behind this is that a computer can be programmed to make decisions, but a calculator is not equipped with that technology.

What is the difference between a programmable and non programmable calculator? ›

Programmable Vs Non-Programmable Calculator

A non programmable calculator is of light weight with small screen display and simple outlook. It would be devoid of function buttons. A programmable calculator is a little heavier one with comparatively bigger screen display and graphic capabilities.

Is YTM the same as interest rate? ›

Yield to maturity (YTM) is the overall interest rate earned by an investor who buys a bond at the market price and holds it until maturity.

How do you calculate yield to maturity without coupon rate? ›

Zero-Coupon Bond Yield-to-Maturity (YTM) Formula

To calculate the yield-to-maturity (YTM) on a zero-coupon bond, first divide the face value (FV) of the bond by the present value (PV). The result is then raised to the power of one divided by the number of compounding periods.

Is yield to maturity paid annually? ›

Yield to maturity is considered a long-term bond yield but is expressed as an annual rate. In other words, it is the internal rate of return (IRR) of an investment in a bond if the investor holds the bond until maturity, with all payments made as scheduled and reinvested at the same rate.

What is YTM on calculator? ›

The yield to maturity calculator (YTM calculator) is a handy tool for finding the rate of return that an investor can expect on a bond. As this metric is one of the most significant factors that can impact the bond price, it is essential for an investor to fully understand the YTM definition.

What is the present value of the simple annuity of ₱ 5000.00 payable semi annually for 10 years if money is worth 6% compounded semi annually? ›

Find the present value and the amount (future value) of an ordinary annuity of P5,000 payable semi-annually for 10 years if money is worth 6% compounded semi-annually. 1. Answer: P = P74,387.37, F = P134,351.87 2.

What happens when an annuity reaches maturity? ›

Once your contract has matured, you can choose to keep your money in the annuity. You won't receive any checks from the life insurance company. That is, unless you opt to withdraw money on your own or start your income payments according to a definitive withdrawal schedule set by the insurer.

Does Hewlett Packard still exist? ›

Hewlett-Packard Company, American manufacturer of software and computer services. The company split in 2015 into two companies: HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

When did HP stop making computers? ›

November 1, 2015

Did HP stop making computers? ›

Hewlett Packard has confirmed plans to stop making PCs, tablets and phones, in order to refocus on software. It has also emerged that the US company has agreed to buy UK software firm Autonomy for £7.1bn ($11.7bn).

When was the last HP? ›

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final novel in the series, was adapted into two feature-length parts. Part 1 was released in November 2010, and Part 2 was released in July 2011.

Why is HP discontinuing? ›

According to the company, this decision was made because HP plans to focus future investments on expanding its LaserJet offerings and on serving the needs of hybrid workplace environments (from SMBs to enterprises).

Which is best HP or Dell? ›

Dell laptops have the upper hand when it comes to components like the CPU and memory capacity. If we compare HP's computers with similar features, Dell's CPUs are quicker and of higher quality. However, HP continues to produce durable devices, which indicates that they will have even better batteries.

Why is HP closing? ›

NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: India's largest computer maker Hewlett Packard (H-P) is planning to close production at its Pantnagar plant, after an increase in excise duty of PC components in the Budget.

How many years can a HP laptop run? ›

Generally speaking, your typical mid-range laptop should last roughly three years. And if you take good care of your computer, it may even last a bit longer than that.

Do old computers still work? ›

As we've seen, an old computer can have many uses, particularly if it's still in good working condition. And not all uses for a PC require quad-core systems with high-end graphics. So if that old system is sitting in a closet somewhere, dig it out and put it to use.

Who owns HP now? ›

Are HP laptops still good? ›

Through it all, HP has earned a reputation for reliable laptops with very competent customer service. Today, HP is a contender against some of the best laptop manufacturers in the world.

Which is the best laptop brand? ›

Top 10 Laptop Brands: A Short List
  • Lenovo. ...
  • Dell. ...
  • Acer. ...
  • Asus. ...
  • MSI. ...
  • Microsoft Surface. Microsoft Surface is a crowd pleaser for various reasons. ...
  • Razer. The gaming laptops from Razer with their powerful sensors and amazing display features justify their high price tags. ...
  • Samsung.

Is HP still in Russia? ›

JUNE 1, 2022 • STATEMENT

It is no longer tenable for us to continue operations in Russia and Belarus, and we are proceeding with an orderly exit of our remaining business in these countries.

Can a laptop last 10 years? ›

The same concerns apply to laptops. Most experts estimate a laptop's lifespan to be three to five years. It may survive longer than that, but its utility will be limited as the components become less capable of running advanced applications.

How long should a HP laptop battery last on a single charge? ›

HP laptop battery life and Fast Charge features

They've gone from an average of around 7 to 8 hours to new estimates that often thoroughly exceed the typical workday. Many of HP®'s best battery life laptops also feature Fast Charge technology, so that you won't have to wait too long for your battery to recharge.

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