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Nostalgic about HP test equipment

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Walt Johnson
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re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
Walt Johnson   2/8/2012 3:07:33 PM
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I was hired by HP as a Production Engineer in 1965 in Loveland CO. One of the products I was responsible for was the 200CD. In those days it wass literally raw material to finished product. It seems to me that we made everything in Loveland except the basic electronic components.

John.McVey
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re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
John.McVey   2/8/2012 10:04:45 PM
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I enjoyed many years working as a design engineer at HP. One of best projects was working on a new full-custom CMOS chipset at the calculator division in Corvallis, Oregon. We could do it all in those days because the standard-cell approach wasn't around yet or suitable. We created our schematics and simulated them with HP Spice and proprietary logic simulators. We could walk over to the CMOS process engineer's desk and discuss spice parameters nuances, or discuss bus contention detection with the guy that wrote the logic simulator. We could even do our own CMOS layout and netlist extraction and verification. We could wear a "bunny suit" and enter the CMOS fab to watch our wafers be processed, and manually probe them at a probe station to verify internal circuit operation. HP created as many as 7 full-custom ASICs for a new architecture in those days and the teamwork was amazing. I learned so much from the high caliber people I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with. I also witnessed some of the most amazing assembly language code reviews. In those days of 1MHz CPU clocks and 4KB SRAM chips every cycle and byte mattered. During a code review you could hear one engineer tell another: "if you move instruction XXX before instruction YYY you can eliminate instruction ZZZ saving two bytes and three clocks"! We also frequently heard from customers whose calculators had survived amazing destruction, including one from a bombing in Ireland. It was grand engineering on this scale that is the legacy for things like the HP-35, HP-41 and HP-48. I am sure hundreds of lucky engineers like me participated in a similarly fulfilling engineering environment at other HP Divisions around the country. It was truly the best of days!

Bert22306
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re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
Bert22306   2/8/2012 10:07:17 PM
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I have to admit, once you've used the original built-like-tanks HP test equipment, nothing else seems to measure up. But hey, leaving that aside, I'm intrigued by your bio. I'm curious about accents. To my admittedly not hyper-trained ear, English spoken in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia and South Africa especially, sounds quite similar. And not too different from English spoken in Australia and New Zealand. So here's my question. If I may ask, when you moved to Oz, did everyone notice your accent and ask about it, or not? (Or perhaps you fooled them all, and me, by sounding like a yank?)

EDA360 Insider
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re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
EDA360 Insider   2/8/2012 11:28:09 PM
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Sorry, but the X-ray finger detection doesn't pass the sniff test. IR, sure. X-ray, that's just silly.

David Ashton
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re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
David Ashton   2/9/2012 7:05:38 AM
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Hi Bert. Accents...right... My Aussie friends say I'll never sound like an Aussie, but my mom says I do sound like one. The Zimbabwean and South African accents are similar, but if you've lived in either you'll know the difference...like USA and Canada, or Australia and NZ. I could never pick the difference between Aussie and NZ till I came here, now I can do it straight away. The South African accent sounds a bit like NZ in some respects. I can still probably put on a better SA accent than an Aussie one. When I have to introduce myself at functions or training courses, I always say "I'm from Zimbabwe, which is why all you guys talk funny" - Aussies have a good enough sense of humour not to take offence. I once phoned a guy here that I didn't know from a bar of soap, and within 10 seconds I said "You're Zimbabwean, right?" and I was. I guess I learned something in the 43 years I was there.... Was wondering where you'd heard me...but it would have been Max's geiger counter video, right?

David Ashton
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Blogger
re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
David Ashton   2/9/2012 7:34:42 AM
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You're right....does smell bad. A bit of fossicking around on the net leads me to suspect that this is an HP 16500B. I found a user guide and a service manual on Agilent's site (as an aside, Agilent do seem very good about keeping a lot of HP manuals available) but nothing in them confirms how the touch screen works. It's a pretty low res touch screen so I wouldn't think anything more than IR leds and detectors would be needed. However I did note that this equipment does have a colour CRT display and those are know to produce X-rays, maybe this is what the warning was about, but I couldn't find any reference to that in the HP docs either. Sorry, my bad, should have researched this a bit better. (And not believed everything I read in one of Max's posts ;-)

David Ashton
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re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
David Ashton   2/9/2012 7:39:42 AM
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Sounds great, thanks for that. You should think about expanding this into a "How it was: Working at HP" article for Max's series -I'm sure it would be fascinating reading.

jackOfManyTrades
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re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
jackOfManyTrades   2/9/2012 8:02:26 AM
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How I wish HP (Agilent) made the test I we use, then we wouldn't have to use other test gear companies.

RICARDO.MOTTA
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Rookie
re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
RICARDO.MOTTA   2/10/2012 1:12:38 PM
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And nowadays, where is the garage, where is HP, where is the invention? Cheers

antedeluvian
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Blogger
re: Nostalgic about HP test equipment
antedeluvian   2/10/2012 8:17:01 PM
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I attribute my engineering degree to the HP-35. While everyone else was pushing their slide rules around, I managed to find an extra 20 minutes in the exam. I still have it and some of the books that described the algorithms to resolve complex (not imaginary) calculations. When they released the HP35S about 3 years ago, I just had to buy one. It is much closer to the HP61 because of the programmability and key functionality. Sort of resembles the 35 as much as the new Mini car resembles the old one. I must say though, after my recent acquisitions of HP printers and scanners I don't think the HP quality is still there. See my thoughts here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1367&doc_id=231153

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