Series E Calculator Error Message Explanations

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The article presented below was originally written by Richard Nelson, founder of PPC way back in 1974. It appeared in the V6N3 PPC Journal, April 1979. Richard presently works for Educalc in California.
Calculators are becoming more and more sophisticated. In addition to the machine telling the user that he/she has made an error by linking the display or actually spelling out 'ERROR', the latest models provide additional information that attempts to tell the user what kind of error was made. The HP Series E machiens are an example.

Eleven classes of errors are detected and indicated by various error codes (Error 0, Error 1, etc.) used by the 5 series E machines (and later the three constant memory versions). Several error types and error codes are common to all series E machines and these are listed below:

Division by zero, Sqrt of negative number, etc.     Error 0
Register Overflow, 9.999999999 E99                  Error 1
Self-check failure                                  Error 9
Of course, the self-check error code means there is something drastically wrong with the calculator. Perform the self-check by pressing STO then ENTER. Note: On the series E machines, this self-check will erase data AND program memory. On the HP-33C, 34C, and 38C, these are preserved.

The error codes are consistent within the same classification of machine, scientific or financial. There are two inconsistencies, however, that will provide confusion to users who switch between a financial model and a scientific one. An HP-37E or HP-38E (or 38C)user would be confused if he saw an error 3 when using an HP-32E, because he usually sees error 3 when working with amortization or IRR problems and the HP-32E doesn't have these functions. It is obvious that more error codes are needed in complex finance calculations dealing with cash flows and IRR analysis, but the inconsistency of improper memory addressing being error 2 for the scientifics and error 4 for the financials is important for the user to be aware of.

Here's the full list:

Error Type
                                       31E  32E  33E/C  34C  37E  38E/C
Improper mathematics operation          0    0     0     0    0     0    
Storage Register Overflow               1    1     1     1    1     1    
Accessing non-existent memories         2    2     2     2    4     4    
Improper statistics operation          N/A   3     3     3    2     2    
GTO or GSB to a non-existent number    N/A  N/A    4     4   N/A   N/A   
Amortization or IRR error              N/A  N/A   N/A   N/A   3     3    
Compound Interest/Annuity Error        N/A  N/A   N/A   N/A   5     5    
Cash Flow Error (N too large)          N/A  N/A   N/A   N/A  N/A    6     
IRR - all cash flows + or -            N/A  N/A   N/A   N/A  N/A    7 
Calendar date improper format          N/A  N/A   N/A   N/A  N/A    8  
Self-check failure                      9    9     9     9    9     9 

That's it. Hope this is useful!