Curta Calculators


Remember the Curta mechanical calculator?

There is an excelent article on them in the current Scientific American (January 2004) by Clif Stoll, same as author of the "Cuckoo's Egg". The article has the history of the designer and other information.

So, after reading this, I went to eBay to check them out.

Talk about value, original price $125.00, now they sell for $800 and up in good condition. No battery leakage problems here!

Any, I remember the ads for these things and now I wish I had bought one back then.

Recommended reading to all HP Calculator fans, like myself.


For all of you, who do not know about Curtas. Just a small collection of nearly all available Curtas:




Wow, I hope that is your personal collection. They are spectacular!

I remember seeing the advertisements in so many magazines back in the 60's. I wish I knew the story of the manufacture back then. I always assumed they might not work well or for very long. How wrong I was!



Thank you for the "heads up" on the Curta article. I will deifinely read it

I'm the fortunate owner of a Curta II I bought in 1966 for sports car rallying. As I recall, the list price at that time was $165; I got mine with a 10% discount. $150 was quite an investment for a grad student in those days. At that time, the Curta was THE calulator to use for rallying. (Electronic, digital rallying computers started coming on the scene in about 1969.) The Curta allowed the navigator (Each car had two people, driver and navigator.) to accumulate time (we used hundreths of a minute) as we drove, and to compare our Curta with our watch to see if we were on time.

We used a special homade odometer attached to our front (undriven) wheel, and its 8:1 gearing gave us an electircal impulse about every 1/100th of a mile. These pulses were counted by a mechanical counter on the dashboard. The navigator would crank in miles as we traversed them, and the Curta would tell us if we were early or late (for the speed we were supposed to be going.) The combination of an accurate odometer and a good calculator allowed us to drive 25 or 50 miles, and arrive within a few seconds of "true" time.

Somehow, my curta made it through my three years of rallying with out so much as a scratch. However, while showing the machine in 1975, I accidently turned the crank improperly and jammed the gears. I had to send it in to a shop.

Yes, it is a truly amazing machine. Thanks for letting me reminisce. I look forward to the January Scientific American.



For those interested, the site has a fabulous wealth of information available on this subject. The CURTA was the very first handheld calculator invented (next to the abacus anyway!) and was instrumental in performing many calculations for all kinds of construction, engineering works right after WW2 throughout Europe. Even watchmakers are afriad to open them up, they're so complex inside.
A joy to hold and have!

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