I first learned about them when they featured prominently in a Gibson book (Pattern Recognition). When I looked on eBay, I was stunned at the prices they fetch. Now I can at least play with a virtual Curta mechanical calculator.
Cliff Stoll [Wiki] first became known [ram] as the astronomer who caught a spy/hacker. His book on this adventure, "The Cuckoo's Egg" [PDF] was featured on a 1990 Nova [1 2 3 4 5 6, YouTube, with most of the re-enactments performed by the real-life people.] Since the mid 90's he has been an outspoken critic of high-tech hype. 1996 C-Span presentation [GVid.] for "Silicon Snake Oil." 2004 audio interview [ram] for "High-Tech Heretic." Stoll has written Scientific American articles on the Curta calculator [PDF scans] and the slide rule. For several years, Stoll has also been making and selling hand-blown glass Klein bottles. (Calibrations available.) [Previously 1 2 3 4]