HP 50G quickies: a quick reference guide.

I am presenting some tips for the HP 50G symbolic graphing calculator. Consider it as a quick reference guide for using the HP 50G more effectively.

  1. How do you turn off the HP50G?
  2. There is no OFF button on the HP50G! Instead you press the Orange -> button then the ON button.
    The orange button is the first key in the second row from the bottom of the front face keyboard.

  3. What is my OS ROM version?
  4. Your HP 50G has an operating sytem. On my HP50G, the OS version will be flashed on the screen
    by pressing ON-F4 together. Read it quickly as the calc will display the hardware system menu.
    To go back, press ON-F3 together.

    Mine is at version 00401 with build 00091.

    You can also type version on the calc. Mine returns

    ("Version HP50-C
    Revision #2.08",
    "Copyright HP 2006")

    So there is possible confusion here! "4.01 vs the 2.08" results!

    WARNING!!!I suggest that you search the latest HP docs for this topic. As if this is not enough, typing VER on the console with empty stack gives me the authors of the HP 49/50G CAS software and the number 4.20060106. I believe that this is the CAS version.

    Visiting http://www.educalc.net/1824482.page, I got the following information:

    HP50g Firmware Version: 2.15 Build 0106
    Description: Package contains the latest version of the HP 49G+ and HP 50g ROM.
    Firmware: 4.02 Build 0106
    Release Date: 23 March 2009
    ROM Version: 2.15
    File Name: 4950_215.bin
  5. How do you upgrade to the latest version of the ROM build or OS?
  6. Please refer to Educalc.net for a step by step instructions in upgrading the calculator ROM.

    I have NOT tried this yet, and I would like to hear from you if you really did this.
    Apr. 7, 2012: I have tried it yesterday. Here is my post on the upgrade process:
    upgrading system software.

    The latest firmware with optional softwares is available from
    drivers for Linux, Windows and MacOS

    I have deleted the outdated information on this procedure of updating the firmware and suggest the reader follows the Educalc.net

    This sounds complicated and it is! HP should have made this a keypress setup. Dont feel pressured to have the latest versions!

  7. How do I adjust the contrast of my HP 50G screen?
  8. While keeping the ON key depressed, press either the +(increase) or -(decrease) keys.

  9. What documents are available for my HP 50G?

    For the latest drivers and softwares, please visit the link
    HP TechSupport Drivers and Documents

    Maybe because of the high printing costs, HP did not bother to supply out of the box the more advanced user's guide (more than 880 pages) which is in the CD.

    You can also download the (AUR) Advanced User's Reference Manual V2.

    Following are support documents available at

    HP50G docs

    General, Settings and Modes
    Training Aid Introduction (.pdf, 143K) Download
    RPN and Algebraic mode (.pdf, 279K) Download
    Using a Secure Digital Card with ROM 2.08 (.pdf, 229K) Download
    Calculator modes and customization (.pdf, 248K) Download
    Special keys and features
    The USER keyboard (.pdf, 166K) Download
    Using the Equation Writer - part 1 (.pdf, 204K) Download
    Alarms, Dates, Timers
    Changing date and time (.pdf, 145K) Download
    Setting an alarm (.pdf, 174K) Download
    Date Calculations (.pdf, 158K) Download
    Finance and Accounting
    Amortization schedules (.pdf, 205K) Download
    Average sales prices (.pdf, 225K) Download
    Affordable Payment (.pdf, 200K) Download
    Lease Payment (.pdf, 172K) Download
    House Loan Amortization Schedules (.pdf, 193K) Download
    House Payment (.pdf, 166K) Download
    Remaining Loan Balance (.pdf, 186K) Download
    Required Down Payment (.pdf, 178K) Download
    Return on Investment (.pdf, 169K) Download
    Sinking Fund (.pdf, 174K) Download
    Bond Price (.pdf, 170K) Download
    Bond Yield (.pdf, 171K) Download
    Algebra, Functions
    Base Conversions and arithmetic (.pdf, 152K) Download
    Operations on binary numbers (.pdf, 181K) Download
    Working with fractions (.pdf, 252K) Download
    Complex Numbers (.pdf, 193K) Download
    Hyperbolic functions (.pdf, 188K) Download
    Using the Numeric Solver to solve a formula (.pdf, 231K) Download
    Solving for roots of Ss and quadratics (.pdf, 242K) Download
    Solving for zeroes of a function (.pdf, 221K) Download
    Linear Algebra and Matrices
    Solving linear systems using matrices (.pdf, 255K) Download
    Working with matrices (.pdf, 227K) Download
    Working with units (.pdf, 173K) Download
    The basics of plotting functions (.pdf, 212K) Download
    Calculations involving plots (.pdf, 238K) Download
    Working with Parametric Plots (.pdf, 257K) Download
    Working with Polar Plots (.pdf, 267K) Download
    Working with Fast 3D Plots (.pdf, 231K) Download
    Calculus, Power Series
    Numeric Differentiation (.pdf, 241K) Download
    Numeric integration (.pdf, 254K) Download
    Finding Limits (.pdf, 204K) Download
    Symbolic Differentiation (.pdf, 222K) Download
    Symbolic integration of polynomials (.pdf, 223K) Download
    Symbolic integration of trig functions (.pdf, 281K) Download
    Using Taylor Series (.pdf, 188K) Download
    Curve fitting, Regression
    Curve Fitting (.pdf, 237K) Download
    Cost estimation using Linear Regression (.pdf, 247K) Download
    Trend Line Analysis (.pdf, 251K) Download
    Statistics, Probabillity
    Probability - Rearranging items (.pdf, 145K) Download
    Probability distributions (.pdf, 195K) Download
    Confidence Intervals (.pdf, 220K) Download
    Hypothesis tests (.pdf, 228K) Download

    The site offers a single zip file HP 50G PDF files. for all of the above:

    Most of these are available in your Manual. They have been conveniently separated.
    A useful colorful spreadsheet for most of the calculator commands is available at cccs200.zip

  10. Are there forums of users|owners of the HP50G? Where to ask questions?
  11. If you have any questions to ask about the HP50G or (equivalent HP 48GPlus, hp 49), visit the following:

    Use Google: Enter hp 50g forums problem-statement and you may be lucky to find relevant web pages. You can also try the main calculator site: hpcalc.org
    Our you can try http://www.hpcalc.org/search.ph?query=????" where ??? is a topic you want more information.

    Here is another useful site for hp 50g tutorials. Calculator lessons.

    The HP 48 FAQ will be also useful to the HP 50G user. Visit the newsgroup http://groups.google.com/group/comp.sources.hp48 and search for FAQ. You can also try http://www.hpcalc.org/docs/faq/. The FAQ is frequently posted and revised. Both calculators HP48 and HP 50G share many similarities.

    Merciadri Luca's "Useful Tips and tricks for the HP50g" provides convenient summaries of the most common functions you may encounter.

    You can send me other links to the hp 50G to add here.

  12. How do I lengthen the life of the batteries?
  13. To avoid buying often batteries, insert the USB cable to your computer USB. The calc will then draw power from the USB slot! Or use rechargeable batteries. They drain faster than non-rechargeable ones but you will save money in the long run.
    When replacing the batteries, be sure to turn off your calculator first. Then pull out the old batteries and put in the new batteries. Then turn it on again. Watch out for the correct polarities. The battery positions alternate in the calculator. Replace batteries as soon as you get a warning. Corroded batteries are common causes of destroyed calculators.

  14. How do I quickly change the calc mode from Algebraic to RPN style?
  15. Press MODE, +-, then OK. This will cycle the Algebraic and RPN calculation modes.

  16. Can I use 16 Gig SD cards on the calculator?
  17. That size is too large. You can get by using only 1Gb sized SD cards.

  18. How do I save variables to the SD card?
  19. Variables can hold numbers,expressions, and functions.

    Use TOOL menu. When you press STO menu choice, press "::", then insert the port number 3 in between the columns, then write the var name, say ":3:A1". What is the significance of ":3"? It means the calc shall save to port #3 which is the SD card. What are port numbers 1 and 2?

    Hint: Try to press ON F3. YOu will see that 1 is ERAM, 2 is Flash and 3 is SD card.

    Directories may also be used. Read the official HP "Using an SD CARD" document for the details. In summary you use quotes and the forward slash operator.

  20. How do I recall variables stored in an SD card?
  21. After you press TOOL, RCL, you just prepend ":3:" to the variable name (if it is really in the SD card!).

  22. How do I test my calc?
  23. Press ON then F4 together. then select A for AUTOTEST. This tests all hardware components:

    You my also press ON, F6 together. YOU will be able to test the PRINT, EMI or do a REBOOT.

    To exit from the test, press ON then F3 together.

  24. How do I enter upper and lower case letters?
  25. To enter capiltal english letters, you press first the ALPHA key , the the letter button.
    To enter lower case english letters, you press first the ALPHA LSH(WHITE leftshift) , then the letter button.

  26. How do I enter greek letters?
  27. If you want to name your variables using some greek letters, try to practice with ALPHA, -> ORANGE KEY, then F1 to F6. and the other keys. You may also read my blog entry at adorio-research.org/wordpress/?p=444 under the HP-50G, TI-89 category.

  28. How do I learn to program the HP 50G.
  29. Right now, all I can tell you is to read the relevant chapters in the Advance Users Guide (not the slim manual) which is included in your CD. You need to have a pdf viewer to read the big file.
    I will start writing about this soon!

    Try to obtain a short 39 page introduction:Mervin Newton: An introduction to Programming HP Graphing Calculators
    to get started. It teaches RPL style of programming.

    A one page programming introduction is Eddie Shore: Programming

    And of course the users guide Chapter 21 (pages 648-715).

  30. Are there Easter Eggs for the HP 50G?
  31. Visit Tetris.
    Type RULES from the command line. This Easter Egg is from the HP 40G! (The AMIGOS does not work for the HP50G).

  32. How do you view variables in memory?
  33. You can press VAR and all active memories (6 at a time) in the current directory will be shown. Press the NEXT key to view remaining variables.
    To view all at once all active variables and their values, press (right-shift)Orange and the down-arrow keys.

  34. How do you clear a variable(s)?
  35. Use the PURGE(varname) command from the TOOLS menu. To help you choose the varname, press VAR key. Varname may be prepended with a ':3:' if the variable is in the SD card.
    Use the CLRVAR command to clear all variables.

  36. How do I change the active directory?
  37. Use the FILE manager menu. Select the directory and press ENTER.

  38. How do I delete all entries in a directory?
  39. Use the command PGDIR(dirname). If you want to purge all entries in the SD card, you can reformat it instead. (Assuming you don't have other important files)!!

  40. How do I delete the current memory?
  41. This is a dangerous procedure.

    Press ON, A and F keys. Then select NO to the query "Try to Recover Memory?". Then release in order the F A and ON keys. Press OK to verify afterwards.

  42. How do I reset the calculator
  43. Press On+F3, or press a clip on the hole at the back of the calculator.

    For more information: visit Reset the calculator?:

  44. Define a function of a single variable.
  45. To define a function of the form y = f(x),
    press DEF(y(x)=f(x)) where DEF is the third key(<- 2) in the second row from the bottom
    of the calculator.. For example, the function
    y = (x-1)/(x-2) is entered as

    DEF(y(X) = (x-1)/(x-2)).

    Dont forget to put (X) in the definition of Y. Upon success, NOVAL will be displayed.
    Be sure that parenthese are balanced.

  46. Evaluate the function at any value of X
  47. To evaluate a user defined function at a particular point X, say at X= 2, simply call the function with the argument as parameter.Thus the value of the previous function at X=2, is simply Y(2), and the calculator displays 1/4.

  48. Assign a key to the factorial function
  49. Believe it or not, this is one topic treated in about the Keyboard in the USER Keyboard . Actually the factorial function may also be called using
    ALPHA RSHIFT(orange key) 2.

  50. Obtain the inverse of an invertible function
  51. Given a graph of a function, the horizontal line test may be applied to check if the function is invertible.If any horizontal line touches the graph at most at one and only one point of the graph of the function, then the function is invertible.

    The inverse of a function defined by DEF may be obtained from using the S.SLV menu. Form ISOL(body function, independent_variable). Unfortunately, the HP50G cannot accept just the name of a function, you really have to reenter the body of the function!
    This also reminds anyone using the HP 50G not to name
    any variable as X as this is usually the default
    independent variable.

    Ok, one can use a dummy value: ISOL(Y(X) - t, X). where the calculator outputs x = \frac{2T - 1}{T-1}. Here t is the dummy function value. This will help you save some retyping of the function body.

    Thus the inverse function, in terms of Y and X is

    Y = \frac{2X - 1}{X-1}

    . Really, the HP calc guys should implement a simple technique for doing the inverse of invertible functions!

    The Inverse Function Solver in 2-38 of the AUR mentioned by reader MACH is for numerically finding an x given f(x) = y using function ROOTR.

  52. I need a quick quide to the stack diagrams of most of the HP50g commands.
  53. Here is one compact reference quide from a 1968 posting in the comp.sys.hp48g by swan.r.l
    HP50G quick guide.pdf

  54. Serial Number of Calculator
  55. My calculator has the serial number CNA 75001023. It can be found in the back. Alas the metallized printed number is starting to flake off!

  56. Interesting general links to HP50g calculators
  57. Explore Joe Horn's HP50g page Surprised to find a procedure for cleaning the inside of the screen.

I am beginning to think that HP and TI calcs are more like Linux and Windows computers respectively.

With power comes responsibility! Take your time! Explore the HP 50G, write me your links to your hints in using the HP 50G. I will mention them here.


Date Remark
Jun 22. First version.
Jun 24 Tidies up function inverse
Jun 26 Added links to forums and groups
Jul 10 Added link to Calculator lessons tutorial, RULES easter egg
July 15 Added link to comp.sys.hp48 and for hp 48 FAQ.
August 26 Grouped the HP docs into categories with links.
See also Giancarlo Mattioni http://forums13.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?admit=109447627+1251250173056+28353475&threadId=1149396
Sept. 26 New link: http://www.ele.uri.edu/faculty/vetter/Other-stuff/HP-calculators/HP-50g/index.html

Dec. 23 Juan Carlos pointed out a short-cut for the the factorial function. It is ALPHA RSHIFT(orange key) 2. Thanks to Juan.
Dec. 7,2010 Added link to Advanced User's Reference Manual V2, (Thanks to Miguel Angel Caporalini or Mach )
October 8, 2011 Added Merciadri Luca's Useful Tips and Tricks for the HP 50g.

8 Responses to “HP 50G quickies: a quick reference guide.”

  1. Juan Carlos Says:

    Nice job! please add a shortcut built in the hp50g for factorial: alpha orange 2

  2. Yin Says:

    I love my hp50g. I would really like to have a "product of series" (PI) function similar to the "summation of series" (SIGMA) function. I haven't found any so far.

    I've written a basic UserRPL version, but if the variable name exists as a global, it's evaluated before it reaches the function. The built-in Sigma function doesn't have this problem. Are you able to write library function like this?

    - It would be even better if it usable in the equation editor just like the Sigma function.

  3. HP 50g Review - Read Before You Buy | Graphing Calculator Review Says:

    [...] can find a quick reference guide for the Hewlett Packard HP 50g calculator here as [...]

  4. Chuck Glenn Says:

    THANKS for putting this here! Very useful stuff. The link for Symbolic Integration of Trig Functions is missing, though. It was easy enough to guess based on the others:


  5. ernie Says:

    Thanks Chuck for catching the error. The link was there but badly referenced as < a = href".

  6. Louis Says:

    Hi, I just bought a HP50g and is running win 7. I installed the PC software but win 7 does not allow me to access the HP, can't get the USB driver installed, is there other USB drive for Win 7 available? where can I find or download a drive?

    Great site and very useful info.

  7. ernie Says:

    You mean you run Win 7 on a PC, and want to communicate with the HP50g calculator via the usb link cable.

    I can't help you with this since I am using Ubuntu, but you can ask support at HP and other HP 50G related forums for help.

  8. Electrician Clayton NC Says:

    I love my hp50g. I would really like to have a "product of series" (PI) function similar to the "summation of series" (SIGMA) function. I haven't found any so far.