Lunar Lander on an HP calculator (1974)

Two great things brought together! And a chunky quote about the history of the game, from a recent newsletter (50 years of text games.)

In 1974 I played the Lunar Lander game on a pocket calculator for hours on end…

One evening in 1974, my father came home from work with a programmable pocket calculator called the HP-65 … way cooler than the simple pocket calculator we already had in the house, which did the four basic arithmetic functions and cost $100. The HP-65 was much more powerful, with a price to match: $795 ($4,174 in 2021 dollars). It was a real computer with its own programming language. It was used in 1975 by Apollo astronauts to calculate how to dock with the Soyuz Soviet space station…

I was 13 at the time and was fascinated by it. I spent weeks learning how to use it.

I found this because it links to HP’s hour-long training video for the HP-65.

See also previous threads
Speaking of Lunar Landers
Live-coding a Lunar Lander for the AGC - also, Cowgol for CP/M

I have an HP-97, which is a lightly enhanced desktop version of this calculator. It’s a very fun piece, although with age the mag strip “drive” has become rather finicky on many of them, and I have not as yet been able to revive mine. This makes it quite a chore to type in a program or game, since it is inevitably lost every time the power is removed. While I do remember that particular distress from the early home computer days in general, it is much harder to justify in 2021 2022.

I don’t know about the HP-65, but there is a rather active community around the -67 and -97 (which are very similar, the HP-67 is handheld while the HP-97 is desktop), with a variety of mods and repairs documented for hobbyists. Kees van der Sanden has only this page on the -65, but has a rather detailed overview of the HP-97 with some information on its internals.

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