British Calculators

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Pye

Pye Ltd.

In 1974 a range of 3 hand-held calculators under the Pye name were introduced, manufactured in Malaysia and Japan. The models, of similar design but with different functions, were :-

Pye P-630

P-630

Pye P-630

6v (4x AA rechargeable batteries).

Display is 8 digits, green fluorescent, in a single tube.

4 functions.

88 x 160 x 39 mm. (3.5" x 6.3" x 1.5").

"Made for Pye in Malaysia".

Introduced in 1974.

Pye P-640

P-640

Pye P-640

6v (4x AA batteries).

Display is 8 digits, green fluorescent, in a single tube.

4 function, %, memory.

88 x 160 x 39 mm. (3.5" x 6.3" x 1.5").

"Made for Pye in Japan".

Introduced in 1974.

Pye P-650

P-650

Pye P-650

6v (4x AA batteries).

Display is 8 digits, green fluorescent, in a single tube.

4 function, %, memory, square-root, square, reciprocal.

88 x 160 x 39 mm. (3.5" x 6.3" x 1.5").

"Made for Pye in Malaysia" - though the circuit board is marked "Made in Japan".

Introduced in 1974.

The Journal "Data Processing" of Nov/Dec 1974 announced:
"The calculator market is worth £35 million [US$81 million] a year and Pye Ltd., which is better known at the moment for its televisions and record players, is entering the market with the introduction of three calculators designed "to fit all the advantages of a desk-calculator into the pocket".

The calculators will be on sale in Pye's radio and television shops and the company is spending £100000 [US$230000] on a national advertising campaign to promote the product. John O'Neill, Pye's marketing director, commented: "We see the new range as a natural product evolution so far as Pye is concerned— and an obvious extension of a retailer's sales of electronic equipment. In cash terms, the total value of the calculator market will be considerably larger than that of radio."

The calculators will be sold with a mains adaptor/battery recharger and a carrying case. They feature typewriter size keys "manageable by even the most ham-fisted", a large display and "con-stant" and "clear last entry" keys.

The basic model, the 630. costs £35-60 [US$82]. The 640, which includes a memory store for sub-totals and a key for expressing answers as a percentage. costs £47-50 [US$109]. The 650 has five extra keys to give squares and square roots. reciprocals, exchange numbers and reverse plus or minus signs."

In 1896 William George Pye had started a part-time business while employed as an instrument maker at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University. By 1914 W.G. Pye & Co. employed 40 people and manufactured a range of instruments for teaching and research. After the end of the First World War it was a pioneer manufacturer in Britain of domestic radios, televisions in the 1930s, and transistor radios in the 1950s. As well as the domestic products it was also very strong in industrial electronics and controls, and mong its subsidiaries were the Pye recording company and the Newmarket Transistors semiconductor company.
However, it did not respond adequately to the increasing Japanese competition in the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, and got into difficulties. This resulted in 1966 in Philips buying a 60% shareholding in the company (limited by the government), and buying the company completely in 1976.

 

Pye was one of the later companies to decide that there was a profit to be made in pocket calculators. However, these were to be their only models, and like many other companies they soon left the calculator market as the prices and profits plummeted.

However, this was not Pye's first involvement with calculators. In 1961 the Block and Anderson company launched the "Bandatronic" £sd (Sterling currency) calculating typewriter system, which was manufactured by Pye. In this system up to 5 electric typewriters were connected to 1 electronic calculating unit for calculating totals, and applying discounts, for invoices. However it was stressed that this was not a general purpose calculator and "The machine is set up before delivery to perform the range of work specified by the customer. Each typewriter performs four programmes and the operator selects the one required by pressing a button ...". The cost was £15,000 to £18,000 [about US$45,000] (at 1961 prices !! - a family car was about £500).

Vintage Calculators

© Text & photographs copyright Nigel Tout   2000-2017  except where noted otherwise.