Saturday, July 8, 2017

Retro Review: Sharp EL-9600c

Retro Review:  Sharp EL-9600c

I wanted to buy this calculator when the EL-9600c first came out during the late 1990s.  20 years later, I am finally getting my hands on it. 


Company:  Sharp
Years:  1990s (I think it is late 90s)
Type:  Graphing, Programming
Memory:  24,000 (about 20,000 available RAM)
Operating System: AOS (post-script)
Memory Registers: 27 (A-Z, θ)
Screen:  Monochrome

Batteries:  4 AAAs with CR2032 backup

Graphing Modes:  Function (10), Polar (6), Parametric (6), Sequence (3)

Finance:  Time Value of Money Solver, NPV, IRR, days between dates (1950 to 2049 only)

Regressions:  14:  Med-Med, Linear (ax+b, a+bx), Logarithmic (a + log x, a + ln x), Power, Exponential, Inverse, Logistic, Sinusoidal, Polynomial (quadratic, cubic, quartic)

Solvers:  General (Newton’s method), Polynomial (2, 3), Simultaneous Equations (2 to 6 variables)

Matrices: Up to 10 (no eigenvalues, darn it!  Oh well.)

Complex Numbers:  Rectangular and Polar coordinates.  Arithmetic, logarithmic, power, exponential, but not trigonometric

By default, expressions are entered in natural print format, though you can change it to a linear input format.  There is no automatic conversion to fractions nor does simple fractions involving π or simplifying square roots leaving answers with square roots are present.  Everything calculated is in decimal. 

One glance at the EL-9600c and one could tell that this is similar to the 1990s TI-83 Plus/monochrome TI-84 Plus and you’d be almost right. 


The keys are rubber keys which will require a firm touch.  A light touch will not register the key press.  You will need to pay attention to the screen to see if the key has registered.  It is not terrible, but there is room for improvement.  Honestly, as someone who likes to type fast, it gets annoying because I find myself having to backtrack a lot. 

What is also weird is that the [ON] key is recessed. 


An oddity:  it takes TWO commands to integrate.  The first is the integration command itself (∫, MATH – CALC - 05) but you will need to add the dx at the end (MATH – CALC – 06).

Unique Functions of the EL-9600c

One-Screen Base Conversions

In the TOOL menu, you can access a screen where you can convert integers between four bases: binary, decimal, octal, and hexadecimal.  The integers are 15 bits, with the front bit used as the sign bit (1 for negative, 0 for positive). 

For binary, the upper limit is 0111111111111111, or 32767 in decimal, 77777 in octal, and 7FFF in hexadecimal.

Rapid Graph (the EZ button)

The EZ graphing function command offers up to 51 graphing templates to copy to a graphing variable.  Examples include:

Y = AX^2 + BX + C
Y = A√(BX)
Y = A sin(BX + K)
Y = A/X
Y = A log(X – H)+K

Pressing [2ndF] [WINDOW] (SUB) allows the user to enter values for the variables A – Z (except X, R, T, Y, for obvious reasons).  To see the graph full screen, press [GRAPH].  

The Rapid Graph function doesn’t stop there. 

Pressing the [EZ] button in the Graph screen presents the graph screen surrounded by up/down, right/left buttons that adjust the Xmin, Xmax, Ymin, and Ymax values.  I recommend that you use the included stylus pen included with this screen.  (more on the pen later)

If you press the [EZ] button on the Window screen, you are presented with lots of quick setting options, centered around which quadrants (I, II, III, or IV) you want to emphasize. Pressing [ENTER] presents you with parameter options. 


The EL-9600c includes a pen stylus which is stored on the bottom right slot of the calculator.  The pen serves several purposes:

* Allows for quick selection and scrolling of function menus.
* Choosing a new location of the cursor in a graphing screen.  If you are in tracing mode, the cursor follows the selected function.
* On the main screen (access by pressing the [+ - * ÷] button), you can select the last (only the most recent) calculation for editing.  You can also place the cursor where you want during editing.

Overall the pen is nice, but it seems like should the pen be lost, the functionality of the EL-9600c is not lost.

Slide Show

You can create slide shows on the EL-9600c.  The calculator comes with eight built-in slide shows. Creating slide shows is pretty easy.  After naming your slide show, you get access to the full calculator.  For every screen you want to copy, just press [2ndF] [SLIDE SHOW] (CLIP).  The screen is copied.  Slide shows can be edited and individual slides can be deleted. 

I created a six slide show, and it takes about 1875 bytes.


The programming on the EL-9600c is pretty basic.  I’m not kidding.  There are no structures such as IF-THEN-ELSE or FOR-NEXT.  Yes there is an If command, but it is extremely limited! The only command that can follow the If is a Goto command.

For the EL-9600c, label names can be up to 10 characters.  A program can contain up to 50 labels.  I believe that labels are local.

There are subroutines by the use of the Gosub and Return commands.

The input and output commands are barebones as well, we just have Print and Input.  However, you can use the Wait command to control output. 

Access to graphs and tables are available in the programming language. 

Sample Program:  Digital Root

EL-5600c Program DROOT

Rem EWS 2017-07-08
Print “N
Input N
N – 9 * iPart ((N-1)/9) D
Print D

Example:  N = 13467, Result:  D = 3

Final Verdict

The Sharp EL-9600c is a feature rich calculator.  The biggest selling point for me was the [EZ] (Rapid Graph) button which allows the user to quickly enter from 51 templates.  I also like the easy to use Slide Show feature.  If only the EL-9600c was still produced and had a USB connection the slide shows that would be presented.

My biggest complaint is the keyboard, because I can’t type pretty fast.  Also, I find the programming language is pretty limited for a graphing calculator (which supposedly to be above the TI-81).  I do plan to do several programs for the EL-9600c in the future.

It is a nice calculator to add to the collection as always, even it is two decades later for this particular calculator.


P.S. Coming soon:  a retro review on the Hewlett Packard HP 22S. 

This blog is property of Edward Shore, 2017

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