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First of all, the HP 10bII is a financial calculator and does not handle matrices. For all other calculators, you must first create a square matrix, using the Matrix editor. Then you look for the command that calculates the determinant. The syntax will look something like this
det (Mat A) (Enter/=/EXE)
"ComPuTe". On TI financial calculators you have to press the CPT button before pressing the button for the value you're solving for. (N, I, PV, PMT, or FV). On an HP calculator, you just press the N-I-PV-PMT-FV button without making any entry in order to solve for the desired value.
When an HP calculator displays pend(ing) it is waiting for the user to complete the command. From what I understand you are raising some number to a power. You enter the number (base) you press a shift key of some sort then the [Y^x] and the calculator displays pend. It is waiting for you to enter the exponent.