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National Semiconductor

National Semiconductor, U.S.A.

Alongside a vast range of semiconductor products, National Semiconductor manufactured calculator integrated circuits and in the mid- to late 1970s introduced a very successful range of hand-held calculators under the National Semiconductor and Novus names.

In October 1973 the journal 'Electronics Today International', Australia edition, reported the launch of calculators from National Semiconductor[1]:
" National Semiconductor into Calculators
   In the USA, National Semiconductors are unofficially reported to be preparing to release a pocket-sized electric calculator.  Selling price is believed to be US$39.50.
   It is virtually certain that the National unit will use the company's MOS chips and LED displays."

The journal 'Electronics' explained[2]: "Novus was formed just last October [1973] by National Semiconductor to penetrate the consumer products market through retail outlets such as drug, department, and hardware stores. ... Currently, the Novus division markets low-cost calculators aimed at housewives and students."

Calculators were still very expensive when the Novus range was launched in October 1973 and they were typically sold directly by a manufacturer's marketing department or through up-market specialist electronics stores.  Novus models were aimed for sale through down-market stores and the Novus name was applied to most of the National Semiconductor calculators around this time.

In January 1976 the journal 'Electronics' reported that the Novus name was being dropped[3]: "National dropped the Novus name from high-end and programmable calculators—it will use "National Semiconductor" instead—and introduced an $89.95 54-function scientific unit comparable to the $195 HP-45."
Now, dropping Novus from the high-end models would differentiate them from the from the cheap Novus models.  National Semiconductor, like Texas Instruments, offered very capable scientific and statistics calculators in competition to the much more expensive Hewlett-Packard calculators.


Calculator models manufactured by National Semiconductor ranged from the very basic Novus 650 Mathbox to highly capable programmable scientific models, such as the National Semiconductor 4525 Scientist PR, and statistics models.


Examples of National Semiconductor calculators

Novus 650

Novus 650 Mathbox

This is a very low cost calculator featuring a 6-digit display, and no decimal point key.

4-function, fixed decimal point (2 decimal places, useful for simple money calculations), with calculations entered using RPN (Reverse Polish Notation, similar to mechanical adding machines).

This is a featured calculator.

National Semiconductor 4525 Scientist PR

National Semiconductor 4525 Scientist PR

A high-end programmable scientific calculator.

For further photographs of National Semiconductor calculators see the Calculator Photo Library on this site.



  1. "National Semiconductor into calculators", Electronics Today International: Australia edition, October 1973, p17.
  2. "National's Landrum homes in on consumers", Electronics, April 18, 1974, p14-15.
  3. "Electronic review", Electronics, January 22, 1976.

Vintage Calculators

Text & photographs copyright, except where stated otherwise, © Nigel Tout 2000-2024.