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EduCALC's closing, and HP
I have read your article about EduCALC. I want to share my opinion with the users about EduCALC, and the history of the HP palmtops.
I used my first HP calculator around 1975. Because of my fathers profession (civil engineer) and interest, he had used many scientific, business and programmable calculators. When we started to use HP, we saw the difference. Quality and support were the things we were looking for. Then I became a HP fan too.
I had started to use the HP 45 (in 1975), HP 34C (in 1976), HP 41C (1980), HP 12C Business Calculator (some time), HP 19BII Business Calculator (in 1990), HP 95LX Palmtop PC (1991), HP 200LX (1994) and HP 320LX (in 1997). I have also used many other non-HP handheld computers and programmable calculators.
However, HP handhelds were always my favorite. The reason was simple. Quality, support, and a difference that HP created in its machines. There were always more functions, more information, more support, more quality. This was important for us because we were living in Turkey, and HP Turkey was not established in our country at that time. So, we were away from technical support, and had to be sure that we would not have to stop at any stage of our work.
HP products were always almost two times as expensive as the other brands. However, the total quality of the product always made that cost worth it. There were some information sources, such as HP Key Notes, some user group activities (in Europe), and other information support which was very important during those times. We had no chance to surf on the Internet or look for freeware programs in the 1970s. So, HP was the right brand.
In 1991, when I bought my first HP 95LX Palmtop PC (I've owned three), I saw that quality was not as good as it was in the HP45 or HP41. However, the product was revolutionary.
In 1991, I decided to operate a user group in Turkey. This was an amateur information network. I still continue and try to support Turkish users. Many loose hinge problems were reported, as well as some other problems which were the first indications of the decreasing quality of the palmtops. In my HP 95LX, the labels on the keys disappeared in time. HP gave a replacement, and I continued to use the palmtop.
With my HP 200LX I also have experienced a loose hinge problem. It was replaced, too. Users also reported some screen and other minor problems. The quality was not as in the late 1970s, but the products continued to give more than was expected of them.
People who have contributed by giving out information (rather than merely thinking about finances), Thaddeus Computing, EduCALC, and thousands of users. They all are responsible for bringing HP palmtops to today's level. This degree of success was very difficult to accomplish, because it can not be brought about with money.
Now, the first strike comes from HP when they decided to discontinue to develop the HP 200LX series. I know many people in my neighborhood, like me, who are ready to buy a newly developed HP 200LX with a color VGA monitor, faster CPU and larger memory. This technology is already in the hands of HP. Most people do not want to use pens in the palmtops. Pens can not go beyond being a part of a fun device for most of the applications.
Besides, although the HP 200LXs did not have a Windows CE operating system, the applications were compatible with the Windows applications. I always had the chance of using my files directly on my desktop. My 200LX files were directly usable in the Windows machines, which is still a missing function in Windows CE devices.
Customers don't seem to be as important to HP as they were twenty years ago. If I could use my customized PhoneBook, NoteTaker, database, Quicken, Lotus files and DOS programs directly in the Windows CE machines, there would be almost no problem. Instead, I am offered toy-like devices.
I am still an HP fan, but I feel left out like many others users do. EduCALC was one of my information sources, second only to The HP Palmtop Paper. I bought many products from them, although I lived thousands of miles away. I preferred them to other vendors because I knew that they could solve my problems if I had any. Maybe HP has to return to Corvallis again and establish a new division that listens to customers as in the old good days.
So far, Windows CE seems to have conquered all the old palmtop castles. I accept that Windows CE is a new and growing market. However, I still do not understand why the HP 200LX series has been killed off, although there was still a potential for its development and growth for a few more years. HP could of at least created a better Windows CE product, something that would serve as an upgrade for the existing palmtop users.
My HP 200LX is still my main computer, although I also have been using a 320LX and a laptop. I know time can not be reversed, but I still hope for a miracle.
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