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Old engineering & mathmatics stuff...

So - JYL's threads on HP calculators and SwissMicro's DM42 is to blame for this one - I'm challenging everybody to post pics of their old engineering / math stuff.

I've often been called an anachronism; I finished my mechanical engineering degree in 1993 and got my first PE license ~5 years later, but have always been interested (and use) some very old tech and have found "the old ways" to be still very useful. Oddly enough, I've spent most of my career designing/building stuff for the semiconductor industry (usually projects that nobody else wants to touch).

Along the way, I've collected some old instruments, books, calculation tools, etc. Here's a smattering of stuff that is usually within arm's reach on my home office desk:



This first photo - My trusty HP-42s (best calculator ever made), a very old mechanical pencil with a "roller scale" on the end, and a Dietzgen log-log-decitrig slide rule (and it's plastic!).

The "roller scale" is one inch per revolution (it's graduated on the wheel) and it's attached to a screw mechanism for counting rotations - it's a yard stick in your shirt pocket.



Second photo - A couple old books and a Japanese laminated wood (aluminum stabilized) slide rule from the early '50's.

The copy of Audel's is listed as "reprinted 1940"; it belonged to my wife's grandfather.

I'll post some other stuff as I find it and get pictures. There are more slide rules and some 100+ year old drafting instruments somewhere.

What's on your desk? Anybody got an old Curta hand calculator?


Last edited by fanaudical; 10-18-2020 at 06:37 PM..
Old 10-18-2020, 06:28 PM
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Cool stuff. I don’t go back that far. Never used a slide rule, and my first calculator was a Ti 35. I always felt inferior to the guys with HPs with reverse Polish notation.
In answer to another student’s question about the final exam my trig teacher said, “it’s more important to remember a spare battery for your calculator than to remember the sine of 30.” I loved that guy.
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Last edited by wdfifteen; 10-18-2020 at 06:46 PM..
Old 10-18-2020, 06:44 PM
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My TI bought in 1990 still has the original battery and it still works, although very dim at this point. Sine of 30 may have been more relevant...
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Old 10-18-2020, 06:47 PM
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I don't feel like I go back that far, either, but I guess I did hit 50 this year. TI35's were introduced in 1979; the HP-42s was introduced in 1988 (the year I graduated high school). When I used it frequently, my HP-42s would eat a set of batteries about every 18 months.

Last edited by fanaudical; 10-18-2020 at 08:06 PM..
Old 10-18-2020, 07:57 PM
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When I started basic US Navy nuclear power school in 1966, we had a full week of 8 hour days doing math work books, I.E. one hour of addition, then one of division, ETC and then several days of binary math, I.E. 1s and 0s. What fun and then we learned to use the slide rule. I finally bought a calculator that did basic math functions but no memory, ETC. I think it was $100 or so.

In 1978 I had some sort of Texas Instruments functional calculator and it was the only one in engineering it seems and we used it to figure how fast to tow a little single screw FFG that had caught fire and lost propulsion power. Towed it from the coast of Iran during the hostage crisis to Diego Garcia so the tender could repair it. In the middle of a US Navy towing hawser (big rope) there is a little rolled up paper with data you need to tow a ship so you cut off a foot or so.
Old 10-18-2020, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdfifteen View Post
Cool stuff. I donít go back that far. Never used a slide rule, and my first calculator was a Ti 35. I always felt inferior to the guys with HPs with reverse Polish notation.
In answer to another studentís question about the final exam my trig teacher said, ďitís more important to remember a spare battery for your calculator than to remember the sine of 30.Ē I loved that guy.
I dunno... Seems to me that if you can't remember the sine of 30 you might not remember how to turn the calculator on. Same for sine of 0 or cosine of 0... Some are of fundamental value. That's what my special friend Eigen told me.
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:44 PM
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I used a slide rule thru most of college. My last year, the HP35 came out. Only the wealthy could afford that (it was over $300 in 1972-73) My first engineering job, no one had calculators but the company did have 2 or 3 HP35s. They were great for trig and square root functions. I used it allot in designing cams and linkages. TI came out with an inexpensive calculator, add/subtract/multiply/divide/square but it lacked the trig functions of the HP. And the TI was not reverse Polish. Gotta love technology. In a short period of time TI came out with a model that matched the HP at a much lower cost.

I might still have my slide rule last used in 1973 -74.
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Old 10-19-2020, 04:33 AM
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I was in the last class that taught mechanical drafting in my high school. I still have my fathers drafting table and all his templates.
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Old 10-19-2020, 04:48 AM
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I used a slide rule in high school...71 and 72

Those two years I also took typing. All the typewriters were mechanical ones...no electrics.
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Old 10-19-2020, 05:23 AM
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Good stuff! I had an HP 35SII until sometime in the last 3-4 years, then a battery leaked into it and killed the display. I was and still am very bummed. It was a Christmas present from 1989, and my absolutely favorite calculator ever.

When I was a teen, my dad brought home an unused slide rules from work (mid-80s). He showed me how to use it. I thought that was the coolest thing. I still have it. It's on my desk at work.

I've also got several Japanese abaci, and I know how to use them, at least for addition.

I also had my packet full of drafting stuff from college (1988), although it was a cheap college packet.
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Old 10-19-2020, 05:35 AM
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Some of my classrooms had large slide rules at the front of the class, about six feet long and one a bearing so you could rotate it to use the back side. I never saw it used because we all had calculators.

My brother brought me a tiny Casio from in the late 70's, it was less than 4" tall. I used it for six years at University. It had every function I had ever seen, RP notation, stats, and a clock/timer. It was tiny and a lot of my classmates laughed at it. But it was actually very good.
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Old 10-19-2020, 05:38 AM
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This reminds me of a funny/sad story; my father went through engineering in the late 40's. A lot the profs were soldiers who were maybe not 'quite right' after their return from the war.

One prof was explaining the slide rule operation during the first week of school and he made a mistake about which scale to use, so a student corrected him. This made the prof nervous, and he continued to make mistake after mistake, which the students kept correcting. It got worse and worse until the prof fainted, and all the kids just ran out of the class.

The next day he was back to normal and never mentioned it.
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Old 10-19-2020, 05:45 AM
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At one time, I had an old plastic slide rule in a picture frame with a note

In case of power failure, break glass
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:01 AM
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I use this same book every once in a while. I thought I was the only one,
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:05 AM
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At my high school one of the classrooms had a 6 foot wide slide rule the teacher could use to demonstrate the use of the slide rule. It would drop down to eye level and he could move it and show how to do calculations ans the students followed along.
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:05 AM
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I still have my fathers "navigational computer" and manual from Navy flight school and that was from the 60s.
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:41 AM
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:46 AM
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I still have my fathers "navigational computer" and manual from Navy flight school and that was from the 60s.
Cool, pics?
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
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I dunno... Seems to me that if you can't remember the sine of 30 you might not remember how to turn the calculator on.
You find a way to misunderstand just about everything donít you?
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Old 10-19-2020, 07:33 AM
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Here's some of my stuff.



The slide rule is aluminum w/leather holder.
Scale is from an old drafting machine Dad had. I'm sure my wife found it too big for us to keep around. Used to clamp it to a board to use it.
The books are K&E instructions for the slide rule. I have a large plastic slide rule but it is put away in a trunk in the closet. I also have Dad's old drafting set. Dividers, compass etc in a nice case.
I was an engineering student at one time, taking drafting in jr college I found the need to keep the lead sharp too much trouble to bother with. That and the math just didn't click with me for some reason.

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