Sunday 23 January 2011

We've Come a Long Way Baby

Steven Colyer had a blog the other day about calculators of his youth. Like me, I think, he grew up with slide rules and hand held calculators were amazing.... and large... and very expensive. He reminded me of a magazine article I had seen, but now can't find, but in searching for it I came across some interesting reminders of how far we have come..
This first is from Popular Science, June 1971, ...just in time for back to school buying.. keep in mind that the conversion would be about $5 in 2011 for every $1 in 1970.

Then there is this picture from the same magazine only four years later..(Feb 1975) The $29 four-function calculators mostly did not have a decimal point.

From the same issue I found this quote reminding us that early calculators were even more damaging to student learning because they didn't use the standard algebraic order of operations; "And it is undeniable that the practice among the £30 to £70 scientific calculators has been to adopt algebraic logic universally — possibly because many potential customers for these machines have graduated from basic four-function ."

It took a while, but eventually there was a graphing calculator. This add is from the New Scientist in September 1987, The prices were as low as 40 GB Pounds, (about $60 then, I think)


Steven Colyer said...

Hey man, thanks for the mention.

That calculator wristwatch is pretty crazy, huh? :-)

I remember "digital" watches. Remember them? Digital is cool and all, but they didn't last (too fragile, or the battery died). So we went back to good old Analog, and now we don't even use them! Cell phones give us our time, and the correct time too. No need to "wind your watch" or that great advancement that was "self-winding." Yeah, but you still had to set it correctly. I'm so old I remember when the quartz watch was new!

Then again I'm so old I remember when Kennedy was assassinated, The Beatles first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show (2-1/2 months after Kennedy), 1991 when I saw the first cell phone (walkie-talkie-sized by a rich lady in town), and 1995 when HALF of all American homes had Internet connectivity (AOL dial-up ... remember? "You've Got Mail! lol).

At least I don't remember Howdy-Doody time. Captain Kangaroo and The Mickey Mouse Club were my rides as a wee young lad. ;-)

Pat's Blog said...

Too bad about Howdy-Doody, I was a "peanut gallery" regular... did you know that before he was Captain Kangaroo, Bob K was the clown, Claribel, on Howdy-Doody.

Anonymous said...

I still have an HP-45 calculator, though the batteries and the power supply both died, so it no longer functions.

It was a fine calculator and certainly a big step up from using log tables.