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HP-71B

HP-71B

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The HP-71B was a hand-held computer or calculator programmable in BASIC, made by Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard Company or HP is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA that provides products, technologies, softwares, solutions and services to consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises, including...

 from 1984 to 1989.

The HP-71B was known as the "supreme" hand-held calculator/computer of choice at the time for those seeking the ultimate in hand-held devices. It was particularly popular at The University of California at Berkeley where most of the sales volume was made. It was fully compatible with the huge volume of programs written for the HP-41
HP-41
The HP-41C series are programmable, expandable, continuous memory handheld RPN calculators made by Hewlett-Packard from 1979 to 1990. The original model, HP-41C, was the first of its kind to offer alphanumeric display capabilities...

  series of calculators via a plug in ROM that emulated the HP-41 but at about 5x the speed. Thus, owners could take advantages of the massive power of the HP-71B without sacrificing any of the advantages innate to the long time popular 41 series.

Description


Smaller and less expensive (595 USD MSRP) than the preceding model HP-75
HP-75
The HP-75C and HP-75D were hand-held computers programmable in BASIC, made by Hewlett-Packard from 1982 to 1986.The HP-75 had a single-line liquid crystal display, 48 KiB system ROM and 16 KiB RAM, a comparatively large keyboard , a manually operated magnetic card reader , 4 ports for memory...

, the 71B had a single-line 22-character liquid crystal display
Liquid crystal display
A liquid crystal display is a flat panel display, electronic visual display, or video display that uses the light modulating properties of liquid crystals . LCs do not emit light directly....

, 64K system ROM and 17.5K user memory. It operated on four AAA batteries
AAA battery
A triple A or AAA battery is a standard size of dry cell battery commonly used in portable electronic devices. A carbon-zinc battery in this size is designated by IEC as "R03", by ANSI C18.1 as "24", by old JIS standard as "UM 4", and by other manufacturer and national standard designations that...

. Four plug-in ports permitted ROM-based programs or additional user memory to be added. Separate compartments could accommodate an optional magnetic card reader and an optional HP-IL
HP-IL
The HP-IL , was a short-range interconnection bus or network introduced by Hewlett-Packard in the early 1980s. It enabled several devices such as printers, floppy disk drives, tape readers, etc...

 interface (HP 82401A) that could be used to connect printers, storage and electronic test equipment.

The 71B was the first handheld to implement the IEEE floating-point standard
IEEE floating-point standard
IEEE 754–1985 was an industry standard for representingfloating-pointnumbers in computers, officially adopted in 1985 and superseded in 2008 byIEEE 754-2008. During its 23 years, it was the most widely used format for...

. Programming features included a real-time clock, programmable timers and subroutine calls with parameter passing and recursion. It was also HP's first calculator based on the Saturn processor
Saturn (microprocessor)
The Saturn family of microprocessors was developed by Hewlett-Packard in the 1980s for programmable scientific calculators/microcomputers. The original Saturn chipset was first used in the HP-71B hand-held BASIC computer, introduced in 1984. Later models of the family powered the popular HP-48...

, later versions of which are found in the popular HP-48 series
HP-48 series
The HP-48 is a series of graphing calculators using Reverse Polish notation and the RPL programming language, produced by Hewlett-Packard from 1990 until 2003. The series include the HP-48S, HP-48SX, HP-48G, HP-48GX, and HP-48G+, the G models being expanded and improved versions of the S models...

 calculators and most more recent HP calculator
HP calculators
HP calculators are various calculators manufactured by the Hewlett-Packard company over the years.- History :In the 1960s, Hewlett-Packard was becoming a diversified electronics company with product lines in electronic test equipment, scientific instrumentation, and medical electronics, and was...

 models.

Since the hand-pulled magnetic cards (HP-75 compatible) could only store two tracks of 650 bytes each, the card reader (installed under the logo plate above the numeric keyboard) was not a very popular option. Larger storage capacities could be accommodated through HP-IL peripherals such as the 82161A cassette drive or 9114A diskette drive that were also battery-powered and portable, if rather bulky compared to the 71B. Subsequently, memory expansion modules to fit the card reader compartment became available from third-party vendors.

Other third-party options included a bar code wand and application ROMs to plug into one of the four memory ports. A HP-71 configuration with bar code wand and a custom application was widely used for data collection in the British Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS).

Unlike HP-75 or HP-41
HP-41
The HP-41C series are programmable, expandable, continuous memory handheld RPN calculators made by Hewlett-Packard from 1979 to 1990. The original model, HP-41C, was the first of its kind to offer alphanumeric display capabilities...

, the 71B could also act as a device in a HP-IL
HP-IL
The HP-IL , was a short-range interconnection bus or network introduced by Hewlett-Packard in the early 1980s. It enabled several devices such as printers, floppy disk drives, tape readers, etc...

loop controlled by another device, allowing several of them in the same loop, communicating with each other (or an HP-75 or HP-41) or sharing peripherals. Using an HP 82402 Dual HP-IL controller, it was even possible to connect one 71B to two HP-IL loops simultaneously, possibly as a controller in one and as a device in another.

Internal Design Specification


Another notable "feature" of the 71B was that HP sold to the public a series of documents (IDS: Internal Design Specification) containing the nearly complete internal engineering details of the unit. A series of four IDS's were published about the software contained in the 71B's ROM; this included the complete source code (in assembly language) for the entire contents of ROM, and extensive additional design documentation of the ROM software. Other IDS's were released covering the 71B's hardware, the Forth/Assembler add-in ROM, and the add-in HP-IL controller. The IDS were fairly expensive ($200 for the base-ROM IDS set?), but exemplified distinctive "HP quality" of period.

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