I grew up a short walk from the place where all of these calculators
were conceived and developed. Many of the people I grew up with were
part of the effort that made these devices possible.
Family and friends were involved in a diverse range of jobs at the
Corvallis, Oregon Hewlett-Packard™ plant.
One of my best friends for example worked in chip fabrication. Another
in the plant's machine shop. A cousin in inventory control. A best
friends son in law in fluid dynamics. To name a few.
I did not work at HP™ a fact which could easily be described as a missed
opportunity. It would be very hard to argue with that.
I have always had an interest in digital technology and the people I
knew at HP™ were always helpful to me. And we had many great conversations
about the present and future of the technology. They were always
enthusiastic about HP™ products and technology. I was often given
salvaged items from HP™. I asked if this was approved by their superiors.
I was told that it was and it was for one thing a source of feed back
about their products as well as a possible source of new ideas. I know
that HP™ did get new ideas by unconventional means at times. HP™ was a
very innovative company and a great place to work. I probably should
have gone to work there.
I was originally trained as a Tool and Die machinist. I actually have
very little training and experience in die making. My background is
in tooling. I have a great deal of experience in tooling fabrication,
machining, analysis, trouble shooting and theory. I have experience
operating horizontal and vertical milling machines, lathes, tool and
cutter grinders, surface grinders, cylindrical grinders as well as
honing and lapping machines.
I am fully qualified in most inspection methods, layout, production
setup, etc. I have experience in industrial trouble shooting for a
variety of diverse industries.
I have personally elevated technology world wide in a few specialized
I spent 15 years working in this field and became poorer every year.
Of course if I had been willing to leave Oregon and gone to Boeing or
Lockheed I might have made some money. I hear various pundits saying how
badly the US needs people with these rare skills.
I have a suggestion: PAY US.
Enough about that.
Then I got interested in digital electronics. I studied that for a
while and learned quite a bit. Then I tried programming. I started
learning BASIC and Assembly. I enjoyed it quite a bit and as I
progressed I developed a 'wish list' of features a programming language
should have. And then they released 'C'.
BABY! 'C' had everything on my wish list and more! I bought an early
compiler and loved the new language. Some of my friends meanwhile had
gotten themselves PASCAL compilers and seemed to be similarly impressed.
I remember asking them why they had not chosen 'C' instead. To a man I
got the same reply, "Too cryptic...".
I just did not see anything 'cryptic' about 'C'.. 'C' was awesome!
I could usually do all of the stuff that everyone said that 'C' could
not do. No problem. You could break ALL the rules. As long as you had
a thorough understanding of what the rules were, what they were for and
why they were there.
It was easy to use. It was flexible. It was fast. It was intuitive.
It was low level. It was high level. It could build objects. By that
I mean WAY before there was anything actually called an object.
I did a lot of hacking. Actually that started long before this but,
never mind. I got in to reverse engineering. Studied debugging a great deal.
About ten years ago I got a job working for a great guy and a good friend,
Chip Westbrook. He grew up in eastern Oregon. Not central Oregon,
EASTERN Oregon! He grew up in the middle of some of the most desolate high
desert wilderness in the US. He became a surveyor and then a photogrammetrist.
He worked for the oil companies in the far north of Canada. He did also sorts
of things. He was a very bright man. As down to Earth as a man could get.
And a damn good friend. You can read his life story in his book entitled,
'Against All Odds'.
It's well worth whatever it costs you believe me. And his widow gets
residuals from the sales and she's a nice lady.
He started up a photogrammetry service about 30 years ago and had quite
a few people working for him. They did some pretty big jobs. The built maps,
DEM databases, DTM databases, volumetric surveys, mass aerial surveys,
geodetic surveys, cross sections and profiles and topographic and planimetric
mapping. And a whole lot more.
Around that time I had gotten in to 3D modeling and ray tracing and other
rendering methods. I borrowed some of the DEM data sets they were generating.
These were like 1 meter DEM or something like that. Much higher resolution
than the DEM sets most people had access to (7 meter? Not sure). I wrote
up some data conversion software. (A specialty of mine...) And started generating
'fly throughs' of fully rendered terrain from their DEM data.
Now you have to understand they were doing big time contracts creating these
data sets yet at that time they had NEVER even seen a STILL IMAGE rendered from
their data! I invited them over and showed them some 'fly throughs'!
After Chip saw that he asked if he could bring his programmer by to see them.
I said sure bring him by. About a week later they both came by in the evening
after work. I made sure I had some nice new and better stuff to show them of course.
Heh. So I'm showing them various examples and at a certain point Chip asks me,
'hey, can you render a quick sequence right there, but closer to the bottom of
that canyon?'. I said sure but it will take a little while. He said, 'okay'.
So I rendered what he asked me for. When the video started to run he turned to his
programmer, pointed at the screen, at the bottom of the canyon and said, and I quote,
'see that there, water running up hill, can't have that...'.
Chip eventually accepted a very large contract from the United States government.
They screwed him royally and he ended up owing a LOT of money for his honesty and
long hard work. Which is not right. Morally I mean. But I digress. He had to shut
his company down. He started a new one and worked alone for years after that.
I'm only going to do so much typing here so we will fast forward about 15 years.
Chip hired me to write a CAD program. A Windows application. A CAD program designed
specifically for mass 3D aerial surveys done by photogrammetrics. The program takes
a 3D data stream from a stereo plotter and generates a 3D CAD database. While I was
at it I built a mask programmable interface so that the program can generate a 3D CAD
database from ANY 3D data stream.
The program does all sorts of mapping and surveying related stuff. Way to numerous
to mention. But I will throw out a few high lights.
Contour generation from any sets of physical data points and objects the
user chooses to use. The user can set the minimum sample distance, the
contour interval, the contour index and the uniform grid interval.
The user can save the following entities from the contouring process:
The 3D Mesh
The Triangulation Grid
The Uniform Grid
The Non Uniform Grid
The Contour Mesh
It does various mass building analysis.
It automates many editing processes. This is because I discovered that building
really good editing functions are a lot of work and you are just reinventing
the wheel. But AUTOMATING editing functions, well now that is worth the effort!
If anyone is really interested contact me and I will gladly answer any
questions anyone has.
I worked on this for 7 years. It was a GREAT JOB. I loved the work.
Then one day, unexpectedly, my good friend and boss died. So I lost a good friend
and my job at the same time.
This was around the same time the head of the federal reserve called the heads
of all the major banks in for an emergency meeting regarding several of our investment
banks and some of their not so solvent conditions.
So, finding work has proved, shall I say, problematic.
So I started selling HP™ calculators on eBay.
I had boxes of torn apart HP™ calculators that I had put away years ago.
I dug them out and started building them and selling parts for them.
I've been doing that for about two years and I have gotten quite familiar with
So I decided to set up this web site and offer repair and restoration of vintage
If you take a look in the 'Image Gallery' there are images of some HP™ calculators
that I have built in the last year or so.