Tuesday, 18 October, 2005

Old Calculating Devices

Last year I mentioned the Datamath Calculator Museum when talking about my old Radio Shack EC-4000 programmable calculator.  We were discussing slide rules, old calculators, and old technology in general on my ham radio group's email list recently and somebody mentioned The Old Calculators Web Museum.  That site focuses on early electronic and electromechanical desktop calculating machines--a technological step back from the handhelds.  It has pictures and very detailed descriptions of many old machines, and links to many similar sites that cover calculators, early office equipment, and old computers.  There's even a Calculator Collector Web Ring, if you can believe it.

If you're interested in slide rules, by the way, a good place to start is Eric's Slide Rule Site.  This attractively-done site has basic information about the history of slide rules, how to use them, and the different scales that you'll find on some of the devices.  There are downloadable instruction manuals, a great "how to clean a slide rule" section, and an annotated links page that will probably get you more information than you ever wanted to know about slide rules.

Slide Rule Universe is apparently the slide rule resource site.  It's also one of the ugliest Web sites I've seen in a very long time.  I'm reminded of a fortune cookie I received several years ago:  "Remember that elegance and good taste are usually a matter of less, not more."  There is an incredible amount of information on that site, but the page design (I use that term lightly) is painful.