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FX-570When was the last time you used a proper calculator?

For the past few years, I’d got used to pressing Windows-R, typing ‘calc‘ and hitting a few quick numbers to do my quick and dirty calculation. So I’ve had no need for a calculator. There was a time a few years ago when I discovered that you could do quick sums in the google search box as well (and conversions, and a whole host of other stuff) so sometimes I didn’t even bother firing up the windows calculator.

But when going through a pile of old stuff the other week, I rediscovered my old Casio fx-570. I think I may have been about 12 or 13 at the time (1985) when my mum took me into Dixons in Sutton High Street and bought it for me off of the ‘approved’ list of calculators that I was going to need for my Maths O-level (which then became a GCSE).

It didn’t work now though – it had died long ago, so I put it to one side until today when – because I was buying a similar battery for our bathroom scales, I bought a new battery for it as well (A Duracell DL-2025) and after a moment what looked like ‘rebooting’ (random numbers flashing on the display) it seemed to magically come to life.

So I’ve rediscovered the joys of using a proper calculator again. I was thrilled when from somewhere deep in my memory I remembered that pressing MODE-7-2, put it into ‘two decimal point mode’ – perfect for doing sums with money, which is exactly what I needed it for. No more ALT-TAB’ing back to calc.exe to make that painful calculation. Having a real calculator on my desk (my actual desk, not my desktop!) is somehow far more fulfilling.

And it took me right back down memory lane to those school days when it was the iPod of its time – You must have a cool calculator to be one of the gang. Do kids even have calculators in their school bag these days?

And at break time, a rather sad game of ‘Who could get to 1,000 the fastest’ by pressing 1++, getting the ‘K’ for repeat up, and continually hitting ‘=’ so that it counted up. Did you used to do that as well?

I can’t remember what all the functions do. Hell, I don’t even recognise half of those scientific symbols, but I just love the fact that something I got over twenty years ago in my life is still going strong and doing a job for me today. Thanks mum.

[The voidware classic calclulator museum]
[Vintage Calculators]

25 responses to “Calc”

  1. Fimb says:

    I still use my scientific calculator I bought when studying electrical engineering in 1991. I love using it. At home I use the one I had in high school, complete with tippex graffiti 🙂

  2. geofftech says:

    What make/model is it Fimb? A Casio?

  3. Yorkie says:

    I’m a second year Electrical Engineering Student. The first year lecturers raved about the TI-84+, so most of us bought one (despite generally all already having the Sharp EL-9450 (A levels) and a more basic scientific from GCSE)

    Second year lecturer doesn’t use calculators at all grrrr. The maths has become so advanced it doesn’t use numbers much, and calculators that do the algebraic manipulation are banned from exams…

  4. Paul Leonard says:

    All I wanna say is 55378008 or 71077345 … it doesn’t work very well on here.

  5. Fimb says:

    Both are Texas Instruments.. I know that much.. Work one is obviously work though, and home one has lots of highschool stylee graffiti on it so can’t see anymore!

    I wish I still knew how to convert to binary & hex long hand though.. but never used it from the day I left college *L*

    Ah. The days of finding writing words on teh calculator fun *sighs*

  6. I still have my first calculator, a Sharp EL-509A, which was bought for me in 1983 (age 9!).

    I had the TI-68 for GSCE/A-levels which, bizarrely, I reached for instead of the Windows calculator only a few days ago. As you say, a physical calculator avoids the Alt-Tab switchings – and it can be carried around the house!

  7. geofftech says:

    There’s actually a name for it: Oðblgshezi

    The two classics, are – of course – ‘Boobless’ and ‘Boobies’ :-

  8. Do kids even have calculators in their school bag these days?

    Well they should, but usually they don’t. (It’s one of their cunning little strategies to avoid making progress.) Last year, I got so frustrated with the lack of scientific calculators I printed out trig tables (remember them?) for one of my classes, that was fun…

  9. Stewart says:

    I still have my HP-48SX, circa 1992, from engineering school. Three cheers for reverse polish notation, and the showing up 12C toting accountants when I bring out the big gun 48SX. “You mean you can see the stack?!”

  10. Kirk says:

    At GCSE I used a Casio fx-992s, which was one of the last calculators not to have a little display on the top with the whole equation in – good from my view cause those calculators were good. I also used a Casio graphic calc at A Level, but I forget which one. They were very pro-Casio in my schools.

    Now at work I use an adding machine, and as I deal with a lot of monetary values I have it set to Add 2, which means that if I input 7534, when I press + it changes it to 75.34. Blisteringly fast when you’re used to it…

  11. Kirk says:

    By “cause those calculators were good”, I actually meant bulky.

  12. Mark says:

    I use Google for calculations now, which only goes to show how much time I spend sat in front of a computer. Somewhere I still have the Casio scientific calculator my mum bought me when I started secondary school in 1984. And despite the fact I spent most of my maths lessons abusing it with graffiti, it still works.

  13. geofftech says:

    I should have pointed out that mine too has scribblings and bits of tippex over the back as well. I’m just now trying to remember the difference between ‘DEG’, ‘RAD’ and ‘GRA’. Heh…

  14. Betty says:

    My first calculator was a Ti-30. Yes, I am old. One time, I was unaware that the negative sign was not working until my bank called wanting to know why I was writing checks with no money in my account. I had used it to balance my checkbook.

  15. Mikey says:

    Can’t imagine not having a calculator to hand. I am a firm believer in people using their minds for all calculations, and a calculator as a rule when doing important stuff, such as CW or tests. I am a third year in finance at Uni, and use a dual Casio fx-83MS set up (that’s right, I can make calculators sound like a computer system), one permanently in my bag, which is always on me, and one on my desk, the one on my desk not having a cover, for faster calculator access 😛

    As much as I think it’s good to have a calculator, there are times when people using them incredibly irritates me, and generally gives me a poor impression, for instance, yesterday, when buying some new spectacles, the girl in the shop was using a calculator to work out such basic things, such as £100 + £60, and then half of that.

    Well, that little rant is over.

  16. Mum says:

    Amazing Geoff you still have your original calculator.

    Yes, many people use them all day every day, If you work in Finance or Accounts your calculator is your best friend, and I have two on my desk, a palm-sized one for quick calculations, and a sturdier desk-top adding/calculating machine for listing.

    You know the sort that is not as instant as a small calculator, you have to input say 50+, then 30- to get 20.If you do that on a small one you get 80! It can get confusing hopping from one to the other, but it keeps the old brain busy.

    Oh and I have one in my handbag, one beside the bed, and another beside the computer for currency calculations. Of course there is one in my phone as well. Top that!

  17. Mikey says:

    I used to have a Smarties one on my desk as well, but the non responsive chunky buttons pissed me off.

  18. Richard says:

    Did anyone else have a digital watch with a calculator attached to it?

  19. Geoff's Mum says:

    On the Vintage Calculators link, the one on the right is an ‘Anita’ machine, I was one of the first people to trial it when I worked for Croydon Council in the 60’s. It was the first desktop electronic calculator I believe, and had huge 1 inch high glowing red tubes for the numbers.

    It was also quite huge, with columns of numbers rather than a square keypad which came later. Trouble was it was only decimals, so you couldn’t do shillings & pence on it,and of course the UK didn’t go decimal currency until 1971. It was very fast, and less effort than the old manual Compometer machines which we were all using at the time.

    I remember spilling a cup of soup over it, and it died dramatically. My boss was not best pleased, and to this day I cannot have a drink too near my keyboard! There is a display of all these machines in the Science Museum I think.

  20. jj says:

    my first calculator (which i still have somewhere) was a Texas Instruments “Little Professor.” like this one:

    i’m pretty sure dad still has his programmable HP from college (early 1970’s)… i’ll have to see if he can dig it up.

  21. Chris says:

    I use my Casio fx-451 (solar powered!) most weeks for something or other, and it is going (fairly) strong at 23 years old, despite getting bashed about in my laptop bag. It’s so much quicker than using the windows calculator, plus I use hex and scientific notation quite a lot which are much simpler on the Casio as it has dedicated buttons for them. As for DEG,RAD,GRA – they’re different ways of measuring angles for trigonometry. DEGrees, RADians and GRAsomething. Can’t remember why they’re useful though..

  22. Jon Allen says:


  23. Medibot says:

    I also had a game where you randomised a number from a choice of how many teams were in your football teams league and from that you worked out where you’d end up in future seasons.

    23 would mean relegation, 1 promotion and if you got a play-off place you pressed random again and any number in the top half got you promoted.

    Many a wasted hour desperately taking 50 “seasons” in order to get my beloved Sutton United into the imaginary “Premiership” and seeing if i could get higher than my Watford supporting classmate in the same number of seasons.

    Never knew you were a Sutton boy too though Geoff!

    Were you a Sutton Manor/Grammar School boy perchance?

  24. jj says:

    i had forgotten this existed, but it’s very apropos:

  25. Mum says:

    #23, Yes Geoff was a Sutton Manor boy, I’m sure he won’t mind me saying so! I think that’s where he started learned his Computer skills.

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