Monday, May 06, 2013

Number Crunchers


P1040268a(Rockwell 9TR)



Post-Script: I still use these three calculators, rotating them in and out like I do my manual typewriters. My most common use for them is when resizing images in my blog, like I'm doing now. When I copy the links from Flickr they're 800 pixels wide, but I resize them to 650 wide to fit within my Blogger template, and therefore have to calculate their respective heights to maintain proper aspect ratio (650/800 times their original height). Both HPs use RPN logic, so I keep my skills active with this now nearly obsolete operating system; even HP has conceded as much, since their current scientific calculators offer the option of both RPN and algebraic systems, keeping RPN alive for use oldsters from an earlier era.

As for the Casio fx-48 mentioned in the piece, a quick ebay search reveals none available as of this writing, they being as rare as hens teeth, which provides yet another reminder of how easy it is to take for granted what we have today, and the temporality of all things.

Post-Post-Script: Here's a link to a great vintage calculator page.

And here's a link to an image of the Casio fx-48.

Here's a link to the book "Games Calculators Play," an attempt to familiarize the average person with these then popular devices, which reminds me of the subsequent revolutions of the VCR and personal computer, both of which also required some education before the public would soon become comfortable with them. Then followed the DVD, MP3 players, and the smartphone/tablet revolution of today. But it was really all started, back in the early 1970s, by the pocket calculator craze, which I was a part of.


Blogger Ted said...

Neat! When I was in school in the 70's, I couldn't afford a calculator, so I made do with a cardboard sliding device I got in a box of Trix. I vaguely remember the thing - it was some sort of table of numbers listed on a center sheet that slid around in an envelope with holes cut in it to reveal the numbers according to some pattern. I can't remember why it worked, but that cheap bit of pasteboard somehow got me through Jr. High math with high enough marks that I was allowed to sign up for the first computer class offered in the school.

And look where that got me! :D

10:19 AM  
Blogger Rob Bowker said...

I swapped an illicit pouch of rolling tobacco for my first calculator, a ver simple Sinclair with red LEDs. I didn't really get on with it because it couldn't do the same variety of calclations as my trusty slide rule. In exams where there was the option, you could select slide rule or calculator - the former requiring less rigorous accuracy than the latter. I always went with the slide rule. I wouldn't be surprised if both are still lurking in adrawer at my mum's house.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Rob Bowker said...

...and come to think of it, I remember a whole class spent being taught how to use a mechnical calculator. A desktop difference engine. This would have been mid-1970s. Sad to say that all this technology still din't make a mathematician or scientist out of me.

5:25 PM  

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