My calculator, my self?



#8

Is a calculator more than just a calculator?

I've been pondering this recently. My post the other day about my "RPN addiction" was actually spurred by a couple of old algebraic calculators.

My father, who was a theoretical physicist, died three years ago. My mother died a month ago. In her apartment was an old TI-30 SLR solar-powered calculator that my Dad had used.

http://www.datamath.org/Sci/Modern/TI-30SLR_2.htm

I took it home and started playing with it. Using it now and then somehow makes me feel more connected to my Dad, despite the fact that I much prefer HP RPN calculators.

My Dad retired in 1986. He was decidedly from the slide rule, pencil and paper era. In his later years, he used the TI to revisit some of the math he'd used in his career. Some years back, he gave me a Radio Shack EC-4014, basically a rebadged Casio

http://www.voidware.com/calcs/fx85m.htm

Dad said that he'd bought the EC-4014 because it did more than the TI-30 SLR. But he liked the TI better.

Now that old TI-30 SLR is actually a nice little machine. It seems well-made, better than many with the TI-30 moniker. The buttons, while not of HP quality, feel much better than the squishy-rubbery buttons of the EC-4014.

Dad was right--the TI is simple and elegant, and feels good to use. Every button has but one purpose, and the INV key makes appropriate functions do their opposite. It just feels... right. If only it had an ENTER key.

That "right" feeling made me think about how right the HP-25 felt when I first got it in 1977. And how it somehow influenced how I related to numbers, and what those numbers meant. I viewed math through the lens of that HP-25 just as surely as my Dad viewed it through his old wooden German slide rule in his heyday, and through the TI in his latter years.

My calculator, my self? Maybe that's why I'm so picky about which one I use. Even though I mostly use it to balance my checkbook. Many would suffice, but few will truly do.

Edited: 13 Feb 2009, 2:35 a.m.


#9

As we get older, we remember the times when we were young and everything was new and exciting.
We remember the joys of learning and discovery. We associate these memories with the toys or tools that allowed us to discover new things. As these material items become part of these exciting memories, they take on a life of their own. We become attached to them as if they were alive. They help remind us of when we were young and the world an exciting place and also when our occupations were challenging and important (at least to us).
I know I will never get rid of my HP-25.


#10

I think there's more to it than just human nature. It is also generational. I'm 62, and when I was in school, much of our time was consumed simply learning how to solve problems manually. The affordable personal calculator was truly revolutionary to us, and had a drastic impact on our professional lives. I remember spending several days performing engineering calculations with my K&E slide rule (I still have it) and CRC Handbook of log and trig tables. When I purchased my HP-35 (I still have it) after the price had just been lowered from $395 to $295, days became hours. I would sit at my desk with my hands crossed, waiting for my supervisor to bring me more work. Young engineers and scientists today take all of this for granted, by for those of us from that generation it was nothing short of miraculous.

#11

I consider my first programmable calc (HP-55) to be my first personal computer. To me, a calculator has always been more personal than a computer, probably because calculators are much easier to learn, operate, and personalize, and they are pocketable. Even though I now use a computer a lot more than my calcs, I like to think that if my HP-42S ever dies I will have to retire.


#12

Quote:
As we get older, we remember the times when we were young and everything was new and exciting. We remember the joys of learning and discovery. We associate these memories with the toys or tools that allowed us to discover new things. As these material items become part of these exciting memories, they take on a life of their own. We become attached to them as if they were alive.

Hello,

Nicely put and true. Some would even say thay as time goes by, these items have a soul, at least for their owner.

Fond memories, attachment, nostalgia, you name it. But it feels good anyway.

My two cents.

#13

I'm so proud of all of you!! Passions help keep you mentally healthy.

Michael Meyer
Forum Psychiatrist

#14

Hello!

Quote:
Even though I mostly use it to balance my checkbook.

In my part of the world, checkbooks have disappeared together with the LED calculator... it must be over ten years ago when I last could talk someone into accepting a check. Since then I am in a desperate search of anything useful to do with my redundant calculators - luckily, I never adopted the "My calculator, my self" principle, otherwise I would have felt quite useless myself during that last decade ;-)

Greetings, Max

Edited: 14 Feb 2009, 8:29 a.m.


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