The HP 48 Handbook

Quick Facts
Full Title The HP 48 Handbook, Second Edition
Author James Donnelly
Publisher Armstrong Publishing Company
ISBN Number 1-879828-04-9
General Topic Usage, User RPL, SYSEVALs, and more
Target Reader All Users
Number of Pages 341
Reviewer Eric Rechlin


The first 138 pages cover User RPL progarmming starting with fundamental ideas and terms. This includes an introduction to memory structure, graphics display, loops, the G/GX choose menus and input forms, and more. It follows with detailed examples of programs covering fractals, Brownian motion, financial calculations, plotting, and more.

Disk from the HP 48 Handbook, 12.2k

The next 62 pages cover basic System RPL programming. It focuses mainly on embedding System RPL within User RPL using SYSEVALs, but the techniques used are the same as real System RPL. Stack operations and graphics operations are the main topics. The information is mostly duplicated in An Introduction to HP 48 System RPL and Assembly Language Programming, also by James Donnelly, so if you already have that book, this section won't be very useful.

The third main section, taking the next 48 pages, contains detailed information about the HP 48. It covers On-key combinations, the self-test, character codes, the contents of reserved system variables, wire diagrams, messages, menus, flags, units, and an equation library index. A lot of this information is also duplicated in the above book.

The final 89 pages has a command reference, listing all the commands and functions, giving stack diagrams and much more. This is similar to the AUR but not as comprehensive. Here is an example of one of the entries:

Animates a series of grobs. The grobs may optionally be specified as names. Delay is the delay in seconds between each grob displayed. Repeat is the number of times to repeat the sequence (1048575 cycles if repeat=0).
grob1 ... grobn n -> grob1 ... grobn n
name1 ... namen n -> grob1 ... grobn n
grob1 ... grobn { n { #x #y } delay repeat } -> grob1 ... grobn { }
name1 ... namen { n { #x #y } delay repeat } -> grob1 ... grobn { }
1) If the list specifier is not used, the delay between each grob will default to .1 second.
2) ANIMATE leaves its parameters on the stack.

Also included is a listing of all the programs in the book and an alpha keyboard layout. The keyboard template is so useful that I photocopied it and keep it in my calculator case at all times.

Table of Contents

Cover of the HP 48 Handbook, 10.6k

Introduction: 1
Objects, Names, and Constants: 3
Memory: 16
Graphics: 24
Programming: 40
Example Programs: 80
System Programming: 139
System Operations: 201
Statistics Data: 204
Character Codes: 206
Data Transfer: 208
Printer Control: 217
Messages: 220
Menus: 228
User-Defined Keys: 233
Flags: 234
Built-In Units: 237
Equation Library: 242
Command Index: 249
Command Reference: 265
Alpha Keyboard: 338
Program Index: 339

Program Disk

A 3.5" double density floppy disk is available with all of the programs in the book. All 105 of the files are plain ASCII text, with DOS/Windows EOL characters, taking about 38k. The list price on this disk is $8. You may also download the contents of the disk here.


This book is virtually indispensible. I find it much more useful than the AUR, even though it isn't as comprehensive, because it is much more compact (at 5" wide by 7" tall by 7/8" thick) and covers more than just User RPL programming. This gives much more advanced examples of graphics and provides a good introduction to System RPL. Of course, if you already have James's intro to SysRPL/Assembly Language and HP's AUR, this will not be as useful, but if you don't, this is a great book to get.

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