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The Latest News Items from the World of Vintage Calculators
Clive Sinclair in 1992.
Photo from Wikimedia, author Arpingstone
The death of Clive Sinclair was announced in September 2021.
For people in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s Clive Sinclair was known as "the inventor of the pocket calculator".
Although not really true (it depends on the size of your pocket), Sinclair stunned the world in the summer of 1972 when he launched his first electronic calculator, the Sinclair Executive (see advertisement on right), which was smaller and considerably thinner than any other on the market and fit easily into a shirt pocket without making a bulge.
Sinclair went on to introduce further very innovative calculators before turning his genius to home computers in the late 1970s. See the article "Clive Sinclair and the Pocket calculator" in the Collecting Calculators section of this site.
On 5th November 2020 a Texas Instruments prototype 'Cal-Tech' hand-held calculator from the estate of Jerry Merryman was sold at the auctioneer Bonham in Los Angeles for US$68,825 (GBP£50,546), including premium.
Jerry Merryman, see notice of his death below, was heavily involved in the design and development of the prototype 'Cal-Tech' hand-held calculator at Texas Instruments between 1965 and 1967. This led to Texas Instruments applying for, and being granted, the U.S. patent for the hand-held calculator and, after collaborating with Canon Inc., the launching of the Canon Pocketronic calculator in 1971.
The 'Cal-Tech' prototype sold is one of only two or three in existence, with one being in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and another residing at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana.
The development of the 'Cal-Tech' is outlined in the Bonham auction catalogue. Scroll down to the gallery of photographs at the bottom of that page to see rare views of the circuitry inside.
The National Museum of Computing, at Bletchley Park, England, has created an excellent 3D Virtual Tour where you can have a self-guided or automatic tour through the rooms and the displays of the museum, including vintage calculators.
The death has been announced of Jerry Dale Merryman (17th June 1932 - 27th February 2019) who was was a member of the team at Texas Instruments that developed the 'Cal-Tech', the prototype hand-held calculator, which was completed in 1967.
For a full obituary see https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/06/tech/jerry-merryman-calculator-inventor-obit-trnd/index.html.
Extra info en voorimpressie van de rekenmachines / Extra info and Preview of Calculators
(Aanvullingen op regelmatige basis / Additions on a regular basis)
For some time there has been the need for an effective forum for those interested in old calculators, both to ask and answer queries and also to generally keep in touch with others with a similar
So the Google Group OldCalculatorForum has been formed at http://groups.google.com/group/oldcalculatorforum.
Visit the group to read the messages, or join and become a member of the group to participate and receive emails of new messages.
Your contributions are eagerly anticipated.
On 8th August 2009, eighteen months after it was forced to close by the withdrawal of the University of Bath from Swindon, the long-awaited re-opening of the UK's Museum of Computing took place in Swindon, United Kingdom, with the main sponsor being Intel.
Note: The Museum of Computing in Swindon should not be confused with the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.
On April 14th 2009 Hewlett Packard announced that it had been awarded the prestigious "IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing" for the HP-35 calculator, the first hand-held scientific calculator.
Left to right presenting the IEEE HP-35 Milestone Award are: Lewis Terman (IEEE), Dave Cochran (HP-35), Richard Gowen (IEEE).
The press release explains:
"Introduced in 1972, the HP-35 was the world's first handheld-sized scientific calculator. An instant hit, the HP-35 ultimately made the slide rule, which had previously been used by generations of engineers and scientists, obsolete.
The HP-35, named for its 35 keys, was the first handheld calculator to perform transcendental functions such as trigonometric, logarithmic and exponential functions.
In the first three years after its introduction in 1972, sales of the HP-35 Scientific Calculator exceeded 300,000 units.
An IEEE Milestone plaque recording the award will be permanently displayed at HP Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., the site where the HP-35 was originally developed."
The HP-35 is a featured hand-held calculator on this site, where there are further details and more photographs.
In 2008 the computer museum at Bletchley Park, in England, was being expanded and relocated, and became the National Museum of Computing. As of late summer 2008 this museum was still being organised and was only open on Saturday afternoons from 1:30pm. For the latest information visit the National Computer Museum website.
Among items on display are main-frame computers, early personal computers (which are up and running for visitors to experience using), and 50 vintage calculators.
See the Bletchley Park page on this site for more details.
The excellent "Guide to HP Handheld Calculators and Computers" by Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz, Ph.D, has been republished in an enlarged 5th edition by Wilson/Barnett Publishing, Tustin, California (USA), and was released for the HHC 2007 Conference in San Diego, California (HP Handheld Conference).
This guide is the definitive source of information for anyone interested in HP hand-held calculators and computers, with detailed information about all the models and many colour photographs.
Further details and ordering information are available at http://www.hpcalculatorguide.com/.
PALO ALTO, Calif., July 12, 2007 – HP today unveiled the retro HP 35s Scientific Calculator in commemoration of the original HP-35, the world's first handheld scientific calculator launched 35 years ago.
As part of its year-long 35th anniversary celebration of the company's entry in the handheld calculator business, HP also named the winners of its nationwide calculator video contest.
The HP 35s pays tribute to its revered lineage with a classic design that is reminiscent of the original HP-35, including protective raised edges so that the calculator rests nicely in the palm of one's hand.
The new calculator is also HP's most advanced scientific programmable calculator, featuring ample memory for keystroke programming, equation solving and more than 800 storage registers; 100 built-in functions; and a large, two-line display with adjustable contrast to easily view entries.
For greater flexibility, the HP 35s allows users to easily switch between Reverse Polish Notation (RPN), HP's exclusive time-saving input mode, and the traditional algebraic mode. In addition, the HP 35s comes with a premium zippered protective pouch.
"With the HP 35s, HP honors the legendary HP-35 scientific calculator, which revolutionized the way engineers and scientists worked and marked the birth of HP's innovative heritage in the handheld calculator market," said Sam Kim, acting general manager, Calculator Division, Personal Systems Group, HP. "And today's winning contest videos help share this HP story, showing the new online generation how HP calculators touch people's lives."
"HP Calculator Casting Call" winners
The "HP Calculator Casting Call" winners were announced at the HP Golden Calculator Awards, a stylish event held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home of the original Academy Awards ceremony. The video contest invited entrants to share their personal HP calculator experiences, and entries were judged based on the categories of Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Technical Film.
Celebrity guest Sean Gullette, star of the award-winning movie "pi", presented the Voters' Choice award. The Voters' Choice winner won a HP 50-inch High-Definition Plasma TV.
The winners were:
The winning videos and more information on HP's 35-year history in the handheld calculator market are available to view and read at www.hp.com/go/35celebration.
HP Calculators today
In the tradition of the HP-35 scientific calculator that rendered the slide rule virtually obsolete, HP offers a complete line of market-leading financial, graphing and scientific calculators. The company's high-end graphing calculators offer more connectivity options and greater configurability than other calculators in their class, and the HP12c Financial Calculator has become an industry standard in the business and finance community with more than 15 million units sold to date.
Information about HP's calculator line, as well as on-demand training videos, computer-based training and step-by-step learning modules for each of HP's current calculators, is available at www.hp.com/calculators.
Availability and pricing
The HP 35s Scientific Calculator is expected be available in late summer for a suggested retail price of $59.99(1) at www.hp.com and select retailers and bookstores across the United States. A complete list of resellers is available at www.hp.com/calculators/resellers.
Photograph of HP35s used with permission of HP.
Sad news came from the Museum of Computing, in Swindon, England in March 2008 (not to be confused with the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park). The Museum has had to vacate the rooms that it was using and move all exhibits into storage. Happily in August 2009 the museum reopened at another location in Swindon.
On March 6th 2006 Sir Clive Sinclair performed the official opening ceremony of an exhibition of calculators at the Museum of Computing, in Swindon, England.
The guest speaker was Dr. Tilly Blyth, Curator of Computing and Information at the Science Museum, London.This exhibition charted the technological progress of relevant machines from the abacus to the microchip and showed their impact on the way we work.
The exhibition lasted until the end of September 2006, and has now been dismantled to make way for future special exhibitions. However, there are usually one or two vintage calculators on display. Go to the Museum of Computing for further details.
Below are photographs of some of the displays at the launch of the exhibition.
Mechanical calculator display.
Early electronic desktop calculators.
From left to right: Friden EC-132, Anita Mk 8, Casio AL-1000.
Calculator displays: on the right are examples of each model range of Sinclair calculator.
On 1st December 2005 Sharp Corporation of Japan was awarded the prestigious IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, of the U.S.A., in recognition of its pioneering work on electronic calculators, 1964-1973.
The IEEE Milestone and the pioneering calculators developed by Sharp Corporation to which it applies. From left to right:
There is more information about Sharp Corporation and its pioneering role in the development of electronic calculators in the Calculator Companies section of this site.
© Text & photographs copyright Nigel Tout 2000-2021 except where noted otherwise.