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Eulogy for a dear friend and committed HP fan
06-29-2019, 07:23 PM
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Eulogy for a dear friend and committed HP fan
Hi, all:

Recently my very best friend MFB passed away, at just 72. He was my friend for 44 years straight, the most cultivated person I've ever met, two PhD in his CV (Civil Engineering and Computer Sciences), native-level fluency in 4 languages (Spanish, English, French and German), CEO of his very own Engineering company and high-level executive of other Engineering Associations, a lover of arts, music and science, a philantropist, a fond traveller, a true world-citizen and so many other virtues and accomplishments, both as a professional, as a person and as a mentor and very close friend. We've spent many thousands of hours both working together and engaged in the most amazing conversations about life, the Universe and everything. Literally.

But this is not why I'm mentioning him here. The reason is, he also loved HP calculators and computers since the very first ones were released. When I met him for the first time, introduced by some common friends, he already owned several, including one HP-9825 and one HP-9835. I was of course awed, me being then just a freshman at University, and helped by that initial mutual interest our friendship immediately caught on. Over the years he went on to acquire tons and tons of HP equipment of all sorts: calculators, computers, printers, plotters (up to DIN A0), measuring devices of all sorts, data loggers, graphic tablets, everything.

It all was bought not for collecting or simple toy-gathering but for actual, heavy professional use. He was always keen to know about a more powerful device than the ones he already had, would buy it, then use it to the max in very difficult, harsh environments, to the point the machines were almost destroyed by sheer use. Then he would retire them and buy another or a new model.

I remember he bought several HP-71B (one for actual use and the others as spares, just in case), fitted them with more than 200 Kb of RAM, Math ROM, HP-IL ROM and tape drive and went out to the mountains and other difficult and isolated places, whatever the season, to interface the HP-71B with a number of HP measuring devices and take many thousands of measurements on location, to later analyze the gathered data at home and conduct very complex geophysical studies of the terrain. He was paid well enough that the cost of the HP-71B and peripherals was negligible in comparison, their acquisition really paid off.

By the time one HP-71B was extremely worn-off, he would replace it by another and let the old one over his desk, to be used as a simple scientific calculator. The poor thing would typically be all battered, in horrid cosmetic condition, lacking all port covers (card reader's included), the LCD would have some cracks and several keys would no longer register, all of it not due to mistreatment but the harsh conditions in the mountains in cold winter. It was a miracle that they managed to still work at all after that. He even acquired one HP-71B FORTH/Assembler ROM at my request, and then gave it to me as a present, not the only one.

The one HP calc (he never used any other brand) that he cared for was his HP-41CV, which he extensively used while getting his first PhD. His wife had her own HP-41C (same use) and both were very carefully displayed in a glass cabinet, still in perfect working order and in stark contrast to the battered HP-71B's, which of course had endured conditions and heavy use far far worse than the 41's ever did.

Once portable technology advanced he later put aside the 71's and bought instead HP computers, desktop and laptops, such as the HP-150 Touchscreen (various models) and then Vectras, etc. I helped him with much programming at the time in a number of important projects over the years, which was extremely interesting and helped me immensely to refine my abilities for real-world multi-million engineering projects of a very sensitive nature (you commit errors, lives and severe property loses might ensue). An excellent way to sharpen our "NO BUGS" oath to the gods of programming.

He continued to acquire the newest, fastest HP computers and equipment to his last days. Of course that meant he acquired some duds from time to time (the HP Integral computer, 2.88 Mb floppy drives, etc.) but they were few and far between. He always loved and used HP products in a most professional, real-life way, and so the HP fan community has lost a most valuable, dedicated member which carried the fame of HP devices' quality and reliability wherever he traveled for professional purposes, which was all over the world.

May he rest in peace. I'll always remember him dearly.

Best regards.

All My Articles & other Materials here:  Valentin Albillo's HP Collection
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Eulogy for a dear friend and committed HP fan - Valentin Albillo - 06-29-2019 07:23 PM

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