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Types of current HP12c

Current HP12c family of calculators.

There are three models available for sale nowadays (we mean, models that can be bought off stock at many places). These are:

  • HP12c “plain”: Two batteries, ARM processor, golden bezel, extremely fast. Apparently there are two types as well, and you can tell them by the elongated “%” sign in one of the types. These are supposed to have the worst keyboard. It runs the original firmware running on an emulation layer on the ARM processor. 100 programming steps.
  • 12cHP12c Anniversary: De Luxe box, slightly smaller than that of the HP15c LE, but with a better keyboard. These can be identified by the “Anniversary Edition” in the golden bezel. Same processor and speed as above; same firmware too. Apparently there was a better perceived keyboard quality.
  • HP12c Platinum. Silver bezel, alternate keys on much brighter colors (to the point of making it seem “unprofessional”), slower 8502 Processor, completely different firmware (it is said that it is binary based, compared with the BCD (binary coded decimal) that had been the hallmark of all HP calculators until then, and for which a huge amount of scientific theory had been written).

The processor speed, while much slower than the ARM-based calks, is still 8 times faster than the original HP12c. There are some significant improvements: 400 programming steps, algebraic and RPN number entry, and backspace key. The numbers are longer than in the 12c, and some say that readability is better - I tend to think the opposite.

If you want to give a present to someone in the financial world, and if that someone is young, you’d be safe getting the 12c Platinum, since you don’t know if that person is conversant with RPN entry mode; moreover, the backspace key (although a shifted one), is of great help when keying in big numbers. This was a big failure in the original 12c, that HP corrected in the much better HP15c (but which is not a financial calc!).


HP12c_Platinum_-_4But if that person has a long experience, you can bet that he would be happy with a HP12c Anniversary, that will replace his worn out, battered original model. I have seen many of them in the field, and these 25 years old calculators have held their ground nicely - but for these user, the Anniversary is like refreshing their old workhorse.


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