Before electronic calculators, the Curta was state-of-the-art. Now available on eBay for $810.

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Before electronic calculators, the Curta was state-of-the-art. Now available on eBay for $810.

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@OldOllie: "We used slide rules just like that one to go to the moon."

Yes, I know, Ollie. The point I`m echoing from the video is that it`s easier to read the digits off a Curta when you`re bouncing around in a rally car than it is to read the increments off a slide rule. If you dispute that, I`d like to see you solve 26,648 * 439,417 with a slide rule while jogging on a treadmill @ 6 mph. You *could* do exactly that with a Curta--and get an exact answer, not a slide rule`s approximation.

@Draculya: "Ultimate? Friden SRW is far more advanced."

Draculya, the whole point of this post is that the Curta was state-of-the-art in POCKET calculators (see the title of this post). At over 40 pounds, the Friden SRW was hardly pocketable.

My maths teacher used an Odhner and was faster than students using an electronic calculator. I used slide rules for fuel consumption and cross wind calculations. My company still uses abacuses.

Mechanical calculation works.

@Skypirate: "True, but rubber grommets would allow that with a slide rule."

It`s not so much an issue of the slide rule sliding inadvertently (they tended to hold their positions well and required some real pushing to slide), but an issue of reading the tiny increments you find on a slide rule. Imagine trying to make sense of the below if it was bouncing around in your lap.

true, but rubber gromtes would allow that with a slide rule

@Gerry: I agree that a slide rule, for most purposes, was a lot more cost effective. The special niche of the Curta, however, was that it gave exact (i.e., digital) results of large calculations and not the approximations of a slide rule. Another advantage (as pointed out in the video) was that you could use the Curta in jostling environments, such as the passenger seat of a rally car, where using a slide rule would be all but impossible.

Personally, I find the design of the Curta incredibly elegant--a zenith of form-follows-function design. I have no idea how some parts of it were accomplished mechanically. For example: the readout of the numbers in the windows at the top of the device. The numbers are so close together, I don`t think there`s enough room for numbered gears turning on a vertical axis. So how do they work? I`d love to see the inside of the device.

That would take 1,000 years of cranking!

ooo, ic! It`s for multiplication :-)

I remember when my Dad (who was an accountant) brought home an electronic calculator. He checked the multiplication tables to make sure it was accurate...

Burroughs Adding Machine: Class 1 Style 5, apx 1900. It cost about $400, that`s about 10K in modern terms.

Interesting History Of Them

Nice, but wouldn`t a slide rule have been easier/cheaper?

If you`re too young to know what a slide rule is, google it and learn something.

- Before electronic calculators, the Curta was state-of-the-art. Now available on eBay for $810.