Anita: the world's first electronic desktop calculator
April 21, 2003 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Anita Mk VII the "A New Inspiration To Accounting" OR "A New Inspiration To Arithmetic" was the world's first electronic desktop calculator. Launched in 1961, the Mk VII and Mk VIII were the only commercial calculators available for a period of two years.
posted by riffola (9 comments total)
Damn. I was 6 at the time and could have used one - why did nobody tell me? Why riffola after all these years? As it was, this was my first *blush* calculator.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:09 AM on April 22, 2003

When I was 10, in 1972, my Dad was the principal of the New City School in St. Louis. He managed to bring in a calculator system, that consisted of a central cpu that sat under the table, and had terminals with amphenol connectors, and LED readouts. He had them set this up around a conference table, and scheduled kids to come in all day and screw around with this new technology.

At the end of the day he was surprised to find most of the kids were completely underwhelmed, mostly because they had been told this was the top of the line hardware, and, as he put it, they were unimpressed because "it didn't do anything they couldn't do, it just did it faster".

He also remembers me telling him that I thought it would be better if instead of typing in the equations I wanted solved, if it would just read my mind and give me the answers.

He may have thought the experiment was a failure, but I am certain that everyone exposed to that system that day has never been surprised at being underwhelmed by any technology ever since, and that experience has probably served them well.

The TI-30 infested the physics and math classes when I was in high school, provided by the school, for while you were in class. Had to have a complete count of returned calculators before everyone was allowed to leave.
posted by dglynn at 1:50 AM on April 22, 2003

Check out the Curta calulator. Simulation here.
posted by crasspastor at 3:20 AM on April 22, 2003

Bah! You kids with your fancy electronic gizmos. Back in my day, sonny, we used these and liked it, by gum....
posted by alumshubby at 3:39 AM on April 22, 2003

My first calculator was a Mickey Mouse calculator when I was in grade 2, this was 1977 I guess. I've still got it, or at least
pieces of it. It stopped working at one point so I disassembled it but never got around to fixing it. Every calculator I've used since then has been a scientific calculator.

I got my first scientific well before I had any need for it, I was still in grade school and the calculator in question was made by Commodore. Having calculators so young probably did harm my abilities at manual arithmetic at the time. On the other hand there were all these buttons that I didn't understand. On my Mickey Mouse calculator I knew addition and subtraction but didn't understand division or multiplication. I spent some time on my own figuring out this multiplication and division stuff by working backwards.

With the assistance of an encyclopedia I learned trigonometry when I was in grade school too. I don't remember grasping the utility of logarithms though.
posted by substrate at 4:29 AM on April 22, 2003

Uh, and just in case nobody could tell: Why yes, I am a geek.
posted by substrate at 4:38 AM on April 22, 2003

I accidentally ran over my TI-82 sometime during my freshman year of college (91 days after I bought it, so a day after the warranty ran out). I was mostly broke, so after that I was a fervent believer in Excel...numeric integration, anyone? I, too am a geek - after going to the Punkin Chunk, I programmed in a ballistics calculator for vegetable projectiles - Given the amazing range, i wanted to figure out muzzle velocity.
posted by notsnot at 6:50 AM on April 22, 2003

Hewlett-Packard calculator users reprazent! Unfortunately the development of new HP calculators has been brought to an end. They still keep on making the old classics: The HP 48 and the HP 12C. The RPN input method is beautiful in a strange, "backwards" way.

The HP 48 series was once the flagship of calculators for engineers, but in my time in engineering school I've only seen two other students with them; the rest had the Texas Instruments calculators that have been shoved down many a student's throat thoughout the years. TI's got a pretty good racket going on.

posted by zsazsa at 10:07 AM on April 22, 2003

zsazsa - my former housemate made a killing by buying off unwanted (gasp!) HP48's (and 48g's) from the campus bookstore for ~$50CDN and selling them on eBay for ~$130US.

The bookstore never caught on why someone might want to buy 10 graphing calculators at a time, once a week. He talked the price down because the boxes were mashed up; even bought the display model!

I think he used the cash to buy a really nice bike... If you mentioned TI calcs in front of him, he'd lecture you for an hour about their evils, and start demonstrating reverse Polish notation to you. Hard-core!
posted by krunk at 12:41 PM on April 22, 2003

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