October 29, 2018 2:02 PM   Subscribe


I was hoping this was some sort of Buffalo buffalo buffalo post, but the reality is even better.
posted by tclark at 2:47 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I hadn't seen some of these before. thanks!
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:55 PM on October 29, 2018

At first glance I thought this was an eponysterical post by bc.
posted by cgc373 at 3:40 PM on October 29, 2018

I found my dad's old HP-65 in the garage and snuck it into elementary school. Since it needed AC power, I also brought one of those lamp extension cords and had it in my desk. I still remember how weirded out the teacher was when I suddenly produced that cord from my desk to use on the media cart that had come up from the library.

"I brought it from home; it's for my calculator!"
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:52 PM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

HP48SX for the win!
posted by hearthpig at 3:54 PM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

But how many are RPN? Cause that's the real number of calculators.
posted by parki at 4:21 PM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

But how many are RPN? Cause that's the real number of calculators.

posted by hwyengr at 4:56 PM on October 29, 2018

Slide Rules
posted by MrGuilt at 6:26 PM on October 29, 2018

Mechanical calculators
posted by afiler at 6:31 PM on October 29, 2018

I was given a Sharp 360 recently. It has big glowing nixie tubes. I can make it do square roots, but that's about it. It's not RPN, but it's not any other system I've used before.

But yeah: RPN, or it's a toy.
posted by scruss at 6:32 PM on October 29, 2018

Nice! Thanks for this. Many of the pages are satisfyingly old school as well (frames! etc.).
posted by carter at 6:38 PM on October 29, 2018

Really? I had a Little Professor when I was a kid and my ancient memories are insisting that there was a switch for changing it from game mode to calculator mode.
posted by traveler_ at 6:59 PM on October 29, 2018

Pocket computers
posted by ckape at 7:48 PM on October 29, 2018

I have one of these. It's one of my favorite objects I own. Here's an article by Clifford Stoll(PDF) about it.

ETA: It's a Curta mechanical calculator, in case you don't want to click through
posted by Horkus at 8:43 PM on October 29, 2018

I was hoping this was some sort of Buffalo buffalo buffalo post

Even weirder, I immediately expected Steve Ballmer. About whom, to get on topic, I feel pretty sure was an HP 12c guy in his day.
posted by xigxag at 8:52 PM on October 29, 2018

The Abacus: A Brief History, featuring the Digicus, a hybrid abacus + calculator from Japan.

And let us not forget the mechanical Difference and Analytical Engines designed by Charles Babbage, and the modern working incarnation of his Difference Engine No.2 (in operation).
posted by cenoxo at 10:06 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, man... I had an opportunity to buy a Curta in the late 90s for around $200, and didn't take it — been kicking myself for it ever since. I should have known that anything I'd find that cool, other people would doubtless also find cool, and now the damn things run upwards of a thousand bucks.

I do have a neat old K+E slide rule, though, a 10" Deci-Lon, professionally engraved with the name of the original (now long deceased, sadly) owner on one edge. It even has a sort of scabbard that you could attach to your belt. Occasionally I pull it out and use it, because there is a certain sort of engineer you can drive halfway to complete apoplexy by using a slide rule when sitting in front of a computer, and I enjoy that sort of thing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:18 AM on October 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm similarly Curta-iled, Kadin2048. I blame Gibson's Pattern Recognition for the price jump.

I've held one, once …
posted by scruss at 8:14 AM on October 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is there a law that old calculator websites have to be written in the html that was available at the time the old calculator was originally built?
posted by Mogur at 8:48 AM on October 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Anything spent on the website is money not spent on calculators
posted by scruss at 2:21 PM on October 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I didn't have a K&E, but I got a cheap Sterling with LL scales when I was about 12. I had no idea what to do with most of it for a while, but by the time I was taking electronics in college, it was just the thing, and way cheaper than the K&E's my classmates had to get. Still works.
I got a Radio Shack version of the TI-57 in 1978, which had just enough juice to get some real work done. That one does not currently work, but I have been considering modifying it if I can get it powered up.
posted by MtDewd at 4:40 PM on October 31, 2018

There are, I believe, two versions of the TI Little Professor. I can't remember if either one of them had a straightforward calculator mode, but I do know that one had sliding switches on the side of the case, and the other didn't. I assume they were removed either for cost or reliability reasons. The one with the slide switches is the only one I ever saw "in the wild".

FWIW, I didn't have a Little Professor, but I did have a VTech Lesson One, which was sort of in the same vein and perhaps the world's most frustrating putatively-educational device. It's pretty much the same idea as the Little Professor, but also lets you know just how bad you are at spelling!

One thing I always thought was charming about the Little Professor was the inclusion of a lanyard / wrist-strap loop, as though that was going to stop a frustrated kid from hurling the thing across the room.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:42 PM on November 2, 2018

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