Hewlett-Packard 48 Series  
Written by Accutron on 2015-06-08  

Devices included in this entry:

Hewlett-Packard 48G graphing calculator (pictured in thumbnail)
Hewlett-Packard 48GX expandable graphing calculator
Hewlett-Packard 49G graphing calculator

The Hewlett-Packard 48 is the final evolution of the RPL scientific calculator. The HP-48 features a 131x64 LCD display, unlimited stack (within memory constraints), advanced graphing capabilities, a fully developed file management system, wired and infrared communication with multiple protocol options, and extensive storage and software expansion options in certain models. All models in this series are built upon HP's Saturn CPU, first introduced in the HP-71B handheld computer and later used in the HP-28C and 28S scientific calculators.

The first model, the HP-48SX, was introduced in 1990, and the non-expandable HP-48S arrived a year later. Both the 48S and 48SX have 32K of RAM, but the 48SX is also equipped with two expansion card slots, which accept both battery-backed continuous RAM cards and software ROMs. In 1993, HP introduced the 48G and 48GX, upgraded models with double the processor speed and ROM size. While the 48G retains the 32K RAM specification from the 48S/SX, the 48GX is equipped with 128K of RAM. In 1998, HP introduced the 48G+, essentially a 48G with 128K of RAM (alternately, a 48GX with no expansion slots.)

In 1999, HP made their first departure from traditional calculator development. HP formed the Australian Calculator Operation (ACO), which primarily consisted of programmers from the preexisting HP-48 community. The resulting device was essentially a bastardized HP-48, with improved software, built-in flash memory, a deeply flawed keyboard, and a case design targeted at iMac-addled high school students. Despite its sharp cosmetic departure, the internals of the HP-49 are extremely similar to the HP-48G/GX. The HP-49 was the final calculator product introduced by HP, prior to its dismantlement under the disastrous reign of CEO Carly Fiorina. After the HP-49G, HP's calculator production was offloaded to Kinpo Electronics, who continued manufacturing HP-48 descendants which ran a Saturn virtual machine on ARM hardware. The final Kinpo/ARM descendant of the HP-48, the HP-50G, was discontinued in 2015, killing off the last vestiges of HP's original calculator division.

HP-48G Series Quick Start Guide (PDF)
HP 48G Series User's Guide (PDF)
HP 48G Series Advanced User's Reference Manual (PDF)
HP 49G Advanced Users Guide (PDF)
HP 49G Advanced Topics (PDF)

Hewlett-Packard 48G graphing calculator.

48GX calculator, expansion port cover removed.

Hewlett-Packard 49G graphing calculator.

HP Personal Calculator Production Timeline (1972-2003)

This article is part of the [Electronic Calculators] exhibit.

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