Here’s an excerpt from a HP fan’s webpage about the HP-9100:
A standing ovation
Chance returned from Palo Alto to the Loveland Division and continued work on the HP 9100A. Shortly before its announcement in September, 1968, Chance and Jack Dunn, HP Loveland’s Marketing Manager, took a pre-production HP 9100A and an HP 9125A plotter to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. As Chance explains, “It was a significant historic moment.” The System 9100 pumped out complex Bessel-function antenna patterns on the plotter and the JPL audience stood up and cheered. This demonstration of the HP 9100’s ability to excite the scientific and engineering community was an early indicator that HP really had developed a significant new product category.
Many people first learned about computers from their HP 9100A experiences. At least three famous people have interesting HP 9100A stories. The first is the story of Apple’s Steve Jobs. The HP 9100A was the first small computer Jobs saw and he “fell in love with it.” He realized that personal computing had the power to change people’s lives. Then he built a company to produce machines to do just that.
Author Arthur C. Clarke, who crafted one of the most infamous fictitious computers ever, the HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, was extremely impressed with the HP 9100A and mentioned that he’d like to have one. Barney Oliver presented an HP 9100A to Clarke in April, 1970. Clarke dubbed the machine HAL, Jr.
Finally, Dr. James van Allen, space scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, used an HP 9100A and the HP 9125A plotter to study the feasibility of using a gravity slingshot around Jupiter to allow Pioneer 11 to intercept Saturn. Pioneer 11 was retasked en route and arrived at Saturn before Voyager 1. Pioneer 11 is now leaving the solar system, heading towards the stars.