O.T. Are you a plugger?


The "Pluggers" cartoon in yesterday's issue of the Asheville Citizen-Times shows a youngster holding a slide rule and asking his grandfather "So, grandpa... What is this? Some kind of ancient game?" The caption for the cartoon is "You're a plugger if you know not only what a slide rule is, but how to use it."

How many pluggers in this forum?


Hi, Palmer;

I must confess that I red a slide-rule manual and followed some examples with the little thing in my hands some years ago. I cannot remember the brand, but I was able to perform some extra calculations and compare with the results I obtained with an HP41. Just got tired of that too fast... Also, the owner allowed me to stay with it for one evening, but I returned it back to him a couple of hours later. If that makes me a plugger, so be it... But I must confess I would not like to USE it regularly.


Luiz (Brazil)


I have 400 plus so I guess I'm one, whatever that is.


I had to look that one up. For the benefit of others that are unsure of the meaning as per the cartoon, see this article on Wikipedia.


Maybe slide-rule users should be called "slippers," and calculator users, "pokers."


I got rather proficient at it when scientific non-programmable calculators were still expensive. A co-worker marvels at how I can do log conversions in my head in an instant. I tell him it's from having used a slide rule.


I'm 52 and yes, I have some old slide-rules from my youth.

Edited: 5 Nov 2009, 12:36 a.m.


Not sure if I'm a bonafide plugger, but I just tried pi(sqrt(3.64)^4.15))/29, and got 1.575 on my trusty N600-ES (instead of 1.581). I can live with a 0.38% error (unless I'm flying to Mars and miss my target by 208000 km). C'est la vie.


I'm 61. I took my K&E to university with me.



I used a sliderule at Purdue University in the late 1960's. I still credit my ability to do quick back of the envelope calculations to my early slide rule use.

What I really remember is taking mid-term and final exams, balancing a plywood lapboard on my lap, and trying to keep track of the test papers, erasers, pencils, and holding and using the sliderule at the same time. What great fun :)



Hi, Palmer

Not sure if I'm but I recently used the Hemmi266 slide-rule for "Electronics" from some kind of nostalgia,

while choosing the LC pair to speed-up my HP-15C, which had been obsoleted by the 15C long ago.


That is an astonishing slide rule. It dazzled me at first and then I saw the legends, remarkable. I learned to do those calculations with speed on the original HP35.Sam 81


I used some of them, not very frequently, many years ago (from 1970 to 1976), all before I had my HP25. I stil have one just to display it as a souvenir.


Almost the same story: I learned slide ruling at school still and used one until 1975 when I scraped a lot of money together to buy a TI SR50 to get rid of doing sums of squares manually in physics lab classes. I still have this old wooden slide rule and a few more I collected recently, topped by 2 Aristo 969.


by chance, it happened me to use a slide rule just today in the lab as I hadn't my calculator with me. That rule (circular type) is on a shelf just for these "emergencies".

So I think I'm definitely a "plugger" (a word I didn't know up to now).





With the exception that in 1972 we learned how to calculate using Log Tables (5 digits), the next year
we learned how to use a Slide ruler, a Sun Hemi if I remember well, it still is somewhere in the attic.
And than in 1974 I bought the Ti SR-50 for indeed a lot of money (an HP was unaffordable …)



Walter, we're probably the same generation. I stopped using my sliderule (an Aristo Scholar IIRC) when I had enough money to buy an SR51A in 1975 or 76. I graduaded (Abitur) in 1977 at the end of class 12.


Marcus, you must be one of the little ones. I was in the class of 73 :-)



Post 1461 and 1460. Used them both for first year Statistics at University. The next year they allowed the HP 25 in the exam but ramped it to 20 questions up from 4 to accomodate the faster ability of the 25 including the Sigma functions.

Still have the 1461 in the cockpit for setting up time fuel ratio which is faster then punching the calculator. Once set you simply move the cursor for the diminishing fuel and read off the time.

Still have the Jeppessen circular CR4 in the cockpit for point ot point navigation as well as other simple conversions which are built into the scales.

Yes, these conversions and navigation abilities all have their corresponding HP41C/42S routines but it is still faster to line up the scales for a direct read versus punching the numbers to the appropriate prompts from the machines.

Cheers, Geoff

Edited: 5 Nov 2009, 12:33 p.m.


Hey Geoff, maybe you should teach slide rule usage to other pilots so they will have something meaningful to do in the cockpit and won't get distracted by their laptop computers and miss Minneapolis!



Hello Don,

There is almost no excuse in the cockpit for distractions other then aircraft systems falilures.

Another exception is fatigue, which in itself is deadly, but has a set of standards and procedures designed to allow a rest period in the cockpit while the other pilot is alert.

These procedures include; aircraft system alerts, ATC radio calls, Emergency frequency monitoring, on board computer alerts from ATC or company via data links and CRT displays, Flight attendant calls (especially when close to destination ETA).

All in all, whether a slide rule, company aircraft manual, rest period or computer, SOMEONE should always be flying the aircraft!

Now I won't prejudge, as all the info is not out, except for the confession of the pilot. I can say that the swiss cheese model of management completely failed. At my company, that would mean 8 layers of built in electronic, ATC, Company, Flight attendant monitoring and Pilot duties vis-a-vis operating procedures, failed, were omitted or are not present at their company.

The terminolgy in the cockpit is PNF or PF which until last month, ironically (prior to the MSP incident) was changed to PF and PM.


1 PNF pilot not flying
2 PF pilot flying

changed to:

3 PM pilot monitoring
4 PF pilot flying

Cheers, Geoff

p.s. I will wait until the NTSB report in 8 months before commenting fully as all the info is not in yet. What happened to the datalinks, aircraft chimes, flight attendant monitoring and etc. designed to preclude the trouble two pilots can get into when they are distracted?

Edited: 5 Nov 2009, 1:32 p.m.


Thanks, Geoff.

Yes, I will also wait for the NTSB report and not second-guess what happened.

Situation awareness in the cockpit. I am reminded of that Eastern Airlines flight from about 20 or 30 years ago, it seems, where the flight crew was distracted by a landing gear light that indicated the gear was not down, as I recall. The crew was so obsessed with trouble-shooting that problem that they forgot to fly the plane, which crashed into the Everglades. So I would have thought that situation awareness would be top priority for every crew these days. And I am sure it is, but we are all human beings.



Yup a Plugger am I

We were the last year in school to be taught how to use one. After the year finished we were able to take our slide rules home to keep.

I still have mine.

The rich guys bought their own . The biggest show offs as I remember had a telescopic version.

I have long since thrown out my log/trig tables !


I am a plugger.

I had a slide rule in high school, and learned to use log/trig tables too.

I got my HP-25 my senior year. I still kept a slide rule handy in case the batteries failed all through college.

I've even recently collected a few of the nicer ones.

I still know how to use the basic functions, but not as well as I did. For instance they're very handy for comparing prices of different sized boxes at the grocery store. And you never have to worry about punching digits in wrong on a keyboard. Keeping track of the decimal point was a valuable skill I'm still grateful to have.


I was fortunate in high school; I bought a used HP-67 from a fellow PPC member (and worked all summer to pay for it!)

But I have since acquired several slide rules and learned how to use them. I even have one framed hanging over my PC. The inscription reads:

"In case of computer failure - break glass."



I learned to use a slide rule back in my junior year of HS back in 1970. It was a cheap Sterling I bought at the local stationary store.

By the time I entered college as an engineering student (after serving in the Navy) in 1977, scientific calculators were pretty cheap; a TI-30 could be had for under $20.

About a year ago I was practicing some engineering problems as a refresher using my HP-50g and wondered if I was too dependent on the calculator, so I started hunting around for slide rules and wound up with a small collection. (I use the Aristo 970 and Pickett N3T the most.) I worked my way through the excellent K&E manual that came with the Log-log Decitrig and was amazed at how much you could do with a good slide rule. It was also worthwhile learning how to keep track of the decimal point.

I still like to solve problems with the slide rule and then check with the calculator and see how close I came.

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