Slide rule



#29

Some of the UK press have included this picture as part of their Steve Jobs coverage.

Check out the the large slide rule over the blackboard!


#30

That was how we were taught to use a slide rule 'back in the day'!

TomC


#31

I love this forum, makes me feel so young - I missed out on being part of the "sliderule generation" :-)


#32

Quote:
I missed out on being part of the "sliderule generation" :-)

I was definitely in the slide rule era. I bought a Dietzgen N1725 (front and back), IMHO the ultimate and finest slide rule of all time. It cost me $35 new in 1969 (equivalent to $220 in 2011).

An entering engineering or science student at Georgia Tech in 1970 had a decent slide rule as the only computational device requirement.

Throughout the mid-1970s, slide rules remained a requirement in universities due to the expense of scientific calculators. That was also true of the U.S. Navy's nuclear power training program, where calculators were not an option. It was there I received the best training I'd ever seen on slide rule use for common engineering problems, much better than any similar training I'd received at Georgia Tech.


#33

Quote:
I was definitely in the slide rule era. I bought a Dietzgen N1725 (front and back), IMHO the ultimate and finest slide rule of all time.

Looks very similar to my Post Versalog. At the time it was considered by "those in the know" as better than the ubiquitous K+E and Picketts that most of my fellow engineering students had.

I got good use out of my Post, but I secretly liked the Picketts because they were Aluminum and USA-made.


#34

The Dietzgen N1725 was made in the USA. It was made of mahogany wood which had great dimensional stability, with teflon runners for the slide called "Microglide". Verrry smooth!

I never did like the metal slide rules. The slide always seemed to move roughly. Plus...they were yellow.


#35

Well, of course the metal would have to be very precisely machined to be smooth, and then some type of lubrication might still be needed. Maybe I never got the chance to really test the Pickett.

I remember the K+E users lubricated them with talcum powder. The Post, you weren't supposed to put anything on them because the bamboo had natural lubrication.

Teflon sounds good. I'm sure I never tried one of those.

#36

Quote:
Looks very similar to my Post Versalog. At the time it was considered by "those in the know" as better than the ubiquitous K+E and Picketts that most of my fellow engineering students had.

The Post 1460 Versalog is absolutely among the best slide rules ever made. I still have an example of its successor, the Teledyne-Post 44CA-600 Versalog II, sitting on my desk.

Apart from everything else, the bamboo Posts have all aged very well; much better than a lot of metal Picketts and plastic (sorry, `ivorite') K+Es.

#37

Quote:
I love this forum, makes me feel so young - I missed out on being part of the "sliderule generation" :-)

While I'm not of the slide rule generation either, I totally recommend picking up a slide rule sometime and learning how to use it. They're they coolest things ever. I bought a slide rule on a lark a few years ago, now I have more than ten of them, and I'm always amazed at what can be accomplished with a few sliding pieces of plastic/metal/wood/bamboo.

In a way, I find slide rules to be more interesting than calculators because of the fact that more aptitude is required: that is, the quality and speed of one's answer greatly depends on their skill with the instrument. Whereas operating a calculator is so easy, and the answers are always the same.

Edited: 7 Oct 2011, 4:14 p.m.

#38

I think I was in the first generation that didn't use slide rules at all. My father tried to teach me how to use one when I was perhaps 10 or 12, but by the time I entered high school in 1977, absolutely no one (students or teachers) used them. Our math and science textbooks had tables in the back for transcendental functions, but the TI-30 cost $30 so almost everybody bought one of those (I still have mine). I quickly moved up to an HP 29C and haven't been the same since :).

Dave


#39

Quote:
but by the time I entered high school in 1977, absolutely no one (students or teachers) used them.
I was still using one in my high-school physics class that same year. The other students thought it couldn't possibly be very accurate, but were impressed when we had to calculate the orbital period of a satelite around the earth and my answer was only four seconds different from the teacher's which he got with his TI calculator. I had a calculator--actually two--but not scientific.

Later in college I had a couple of classes in a room that had one of the huge instruction sliderules over the chalkboard as mentioned above but it was never used because everyone was using calculators by then. When a couple of men came through with a video camera making a video to promote the school, they wanted to videotape me using the sliderule because it was so unusual. I'm sure they didn't use that part in the final promotional video though since that would make it look outdated. They were just fascinated.

I got my first scientific calculator in Dec 1981, a TI-58c which cost about $100 at Jewelcor, because the slide rule was not programmable and I wanted to do some calculations that took thousands of iterations. My longest-running program ran for nearly 24 hours on the 58c.

Edited: 7 Oct 2011, 9:36 p.m.

#40

I entered High school in 1976 with a Commodore SR4148R calculator ($65 at Sears Department Store!). Less than a year later I had enough money (and the price had gone down) to buy my HP-25 that lasted me through three years of high school, four years of college and the first two years of work. Damn that calculator was great! Of course the HP-25 begot the HP-11C which begot the HP-28C which begot the HP28S which begot the HP48SX and so on, and so on...


It's funny, the WP34s is the first HP calculator (well, the HP30b core that was made by HP) I have bought *new* in 20 years. It is that compelling.

#41

For those of you who enjoy using calculator emulators, here's one to add to your collection:

http://www.antiquark.com/sliderule/sim/n909es/virtual-n909-es.html


Quote:
but by the time I entered high school in 1977, absolutely no one (students or teachers) used them.

I also entered high school in '77. In 11th grade chemistry ('79-80), we were required to use slide rules -- no calculators allowed. It was the last year of that policy. I was one of only two kids in the school who had a circular slide rule.

It was a cheap promotional slide rule (Concise Model 700-MM) but I really liked it. It had an insert with lots of conversion factors with cm & inch rulers down the sides. Unfortunately, I left it on the back dash of the car once and it warped such that the numbers no longer lined up properly.

It looked like this picture, but had "Compliments of Allied Chemical Corporation."

-wes


#42

If you want to replace it, Concise 700MM slide rules are still available new, although only a small quantity and therefore not 'cheap' any more:
http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/circular.html#catalog
and scroll down about half way.
I bought one last year, and it's very handy to keep in a pocket for quick unit conversions - often quicker than colleagues can do them on a calculator.

#43

When I was 16 on the Logarithms chapter, in the Maths book, there was a part explaining how a slide rule works, but it was skipped by the teacher. As a curiosity I read it. A year later I found a Faber Castell 67/87 slide rule and bought it for around $7. Next year at university we found another 67/87 but the size of the one on the photograph, at a warehouse room with slide projectors, mobile blackboards, and similar. Later I tried to get it but have already disappeared.

#44

That's a Pickett wall mounted slide rule. We had the same one in my physics classroom in 11th grade.


#45

I had one of those in the front of my 8th grade math class -- the one with the teacher that had Afghan dogs and looked just like one herself.


#46

I found a small slide rule that I had received as a gift from a French/German ductile pipe maker in 1973. Made me smile and realize that the HP-35 made it obsolete!


#47

slide rules are more reliable during high emp events though :-/


#48

In the mid 70's when I was in high school I took a class called "Strength of Materials" that involved a lot of calculations related to loads. Even though there was some early hand held calculators available we where not permitted to use them, but had to learn to use a slide rule which I still have and can still do basic calculations on it. Our instructor did not feel that calculators where reliable enough for field work.

#49

Quote:
I found a small slide rule that I had received ... in 1973. Made me smile and realize that the HP-35 made it obsolete!

In practical terms, not quite yet. Individuals would have been hard pressed to spend so much $ on a calculator back then. I got my first scientific calculator in 1978. At $250, it was a big purchase even then.
#50

Quote:
....Made me smile and realize that the HP-35 made it obsolete!

The HP-35 I got going into grad school would have made my K+E Log Log Duplex Decitrig obsolete if the slide rule hadn't been destroyed by fire. I used insurance money from the fire to pay for the HP-35.
#51

That is funny!

#52

I'm 42 and we had one of those in my math classroom back in the mid 80's. It was never used, but it didn't get in the way so nobody ever took it down.

#53

In May of 2006, Scientific American published an article on the slide rule. It included a usable paper model of a slide rule.

Here is an educational article which has the template from the SciAm article:

http://www.pgccphy.net/rec/rec005-sliderule.pdf

TomC


#54

I too was on the trailing edge of slide rules and was the last in my school to still use one (no battery failures for me!).

Alas, I moved over to an HP-25 and largely stopping using my Aristo-Studio No. 0968 upon entering university in '76.

BTW: Here is a virtual slide rule you can use if you can't locate your trusty old friend: here


#55

I may have been the last slide rule user in my school, too. In fall 1983, dropped my 11c and broke it. While it was in Corvallis getting repaired, I borrowed a slide rule during a physics exam.

So not only was I the only person, student or teacher, with an HP, I was also possibly the last to use a slide rule! Paradoxical! :-)

#56

A couple of the classroom-size Pickett slide rules are available on TAS -- here's the better one.

I still have my N1010-ES, case, manual, in excellent condition. I too graduated to an HP-25 -- my 18th birthday present -- which holds the place of highest honor in my small collection.


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