Introduced in 1972, the HP-35 was the world’s first handheld-sized scientific calculator, standing apart from its peers, which could only perform four basic functions – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
The HP-35, named for its 35 keys, performed all the functions of the slide rule to 10-digit precision and could determine the decimal point or power-of-10 exponent through a full 200-decade range. This combination of features ultimately made the slide rule, which had been used by generations of engineers and scientists, obsolete.
The HP-35 was HP’s first product that contained both integrated circuits and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). Both technologies had been developed in HP Labs, the company’s central research arm.
The HP-35 was an innovative culmination of mechanical design, state-of-the-art technology, algorithm development and application – all unique at the time of its development.
“The HP-35 fundamentally changed the way engineers, mathematicians, scientists and students worked, delivering unprecedented portable computing power,” said Jason Zajac, vice president and general manager, Worldwide Attach Group, HP. “The HP-35 was the company’s first consumer electronic device, and from that bright beginning, HP has continued to innovate and grow a technology portfolio that spans calculating solutions that dynamically capture physical data and leading-edge touch technology that is changing how people interact with technology.”
The HP-35 was developed when HP co-founder Bill Hewlett challenged HP engineers to take their current desktop computer, the HP-9100, and create a similarly capable device that fit in his shirt pocket. Even as initial market research deemed the $395 product to be too expensive, HP recognized its significance and the market need and plunged ahead. While HP expected to sell 10,000 to break even, the demand for the HP-35 exceeded expectations and more than 100,000 were sold during its first year on the market.
IEEE established the Electrical Engineering Milestones program in 1983 to honor significant achievements in the history of electrical and electronics engineering. To be awarded, technologies must have stood the test of time. Currently, there are fewer than 100 IEEE milestones; among these are Benjamin Franklin’s work with electricity and Volta’s invention of the electrical battery.
“The HP-35 helped accelerate the pace of technological change and revolutionized the engineering profession by allowing almost-instantaneous, extremely accurate scientific calculations anywhere and anytime,” said Lewis Terman, 2008 IEEE president. “The HP-35 made it possible to conduct complicated calculations wherever they were needed, with speed and accuracy that well surpassed the slide rule. It played a key role in the lives and projects of countless engineers and scientists.”
An IEEE Milestone plaque recording the award will be permanently displayed at HP Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., the site where the HP-35 was originally developed.
Since the introduction of the HP-35, HP has ushered in a new era of computing and redefined the way people learn, teach and use calculating technologies and solutions for students, professionals and consumers of all stages of life. HP continues its heritage of developing innovative calculating solutions for the scientific, financial, education and general home and office markets.
Additional details about the HP Calculators and today’s news are available at www.hp.com/go/35celebration. The milestone event will also be broadcast online at Ustream.TV. The broadcast will begin at 11:30 a.m. PT and can be viewed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hp-35-ieee-milestone-award-ceremony.
Information about the complete line of HP graphing, scientific, financial and home and office calculators is available at www.hp.com/calculators.
HP, the world’s largest technology company, simplifies the technology experience for consumers and businesses with a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure. More information about HP is available at http://www.hp.com.
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