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Rockwell

Rockwell, USA.

In 1967 the aircraft manufacturer North American Aviation amalgamated with the engineering company Rockwell Standard to form North American Rockwell Corp. In 1973 the company was renamed Rockwell International.

Rockwell's Autonetics division was a leading developer of integrated circuits, especially for defence systems, and from it was formed North-American Rockwell Microelectronics Corporation (NRMEC). In the late 1960s it diversified into calculator integrated circuits and was a pioneer in manufacturing LSI MOS calculator ICs, used in early Sharp Calculators.

Another semiconductor manufacturer American Micro-systems Inc. moved into calculator manufacture under the trade name Unicom, and was bought by Rockwell  in 1972 as part of its diversification programme. Initially, calculators continued to be sold under the Unicom name, but this was soon changed to the Rockwell name.

In 1973 Rockwell bought out the Sumlock-Anita company, the largest British calculator manufacturer, to which it had been supplying calculator integrated circuits. Manufacture of Anita calculators, also with Rockwell branding, continued at the Sumlock-Anita factory in Portsmouth, in southern England, where some of the Rockwell hand-held calculators were also manufactured.

Rockwell also had a consumer electronics subsidiary called Lloyd's Electronics which sold a wide range of models of its Accumatic calculators. A few of these were manufactured by Rockwell though most were sourced from Asia.

In mid-1972 Rockwell started to ship LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) calculators to Lloyds, Sears Roebuck and Rapid Data, which were sold under their names. These were the first successful use of LCDs in calculators - See the Lloyd's Accumatic 100 and the Rapid Data Rapidman LC1208.

Many Rockwell hand-held calculators share a very distinctive casing design, as in the 8R below. These models were very successful and are common. The earlier models were mainly assembled in Mexico, though there was some assembly in England, but later models originate from Japan. Rockwell also manufactured some desktop models, but these are not very common.

In November 1976, the journal Business Week reported[1] "Over the past five years , Rockwell's calculator sales went from zero to $130 million a year. But the company has lost money due to industry price cutting. Japanese competitors are making deep inroads now.
Says Al Rockwell: "If they [Japan] come along and say 'We can sell you a calculator for half of what you can make it for', we ought to take a look at that." Rockwell hopes that the lower prices today are merely an "aberration". However. the company has closed two of its three calculator plants, fired half of its 2,000 workers, and claims it is now in fighting trim."

Around 1977, during the great slump in calculator prices, Rockwell completely quit consumer electronics, including calculator manufacture, to concentrate on its core aviation, military, and industrial business, including the Space Shuttle.

 

Examples of Rockwell calculators

Unicom 102.

Calculator made by American Micro-systems Inc. under the name Unicom. The company was bought by Rockwell in 1972. Unicom models were gradually phased out in favour of Rockwell models.

This is a featured calculator.

Rockwell 8R

Rockwell 8R.

A very common calculator, together with the 18R, of the mid-1970s.

This is a featured calculator.

Rockwell 22K

Rockwell 22K

One of a range of classy, slim, wallet-style Rockwell calculators, from the mid-1970s, manufactured in Asia.

Rockwell 920

Rockwell 920.

Programmable, printing calculator, storing programs on magnetic cards. Assembled in Mexico it dates from the mid 1970s.

This is a featured calculator.

Anita 201

Anita 201

This is similar to the Unicom 201. On the label it says "Rockwell International. Sumlock Anita Ltd, Uxbridge, England. Assembled in Mexico Primarily of United States components."

Rockwell bought the British calculator manufacturer Sumlock-Anita in 1973. There is more information about Sumlock-Anita and the world's first desktop electronic calcultors in the Calculator Companies section of this site.

Anita 1211

Rockwell-Anita 1211

One of a range of desktop calculators made in England in the mid-1970s after Rockwell bought out Sumlock-Anita.

Lloyd's Accumatic 100

Launched in 1972 by this Rockwell subsidiary, this model was one of the first LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) calculators.

Assembled in Mexico by Rockwell.

This is a featured calculator.

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

 

Reference:

  1. "Rockwell walks a rough road to profits", Business Week, November 3 1975, p92.

Vintage Calculators

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