Empire of the Sum - a history of the calculator

I came across some interviews and podcasts relating to the book by Keith Houston

It’s all very interesting but of course there’s some overlap when you have several interviews with the same person about the same work…

Mentioned in one of those, this short video showing the internal operation of the Anita caculator - blinkenlights on the inside!

via a thread on the swissmicros forums

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From the interviews, Casio’s first successful offering, the relay-based and desk-sized 14-A calculator from 1957

This was a departure for the business of the Kashio brothers - an official history here
Successful Development of the 14-A | CASIO

More about the machine at First Versions:

Features: Casio 14-A was the world’s first compact all-electric calculator. The name 14-A indicates that the calculator operated with fourteen-digit numbers and was the first in its generation. Technology: 342 relays, housed in a cabinet on which the typewriter-size key-entry terminal sat. Weight: 140 kg. Dimensions: 1080 × 780 × 445 mm. Display: illuminating pad. Memory: 3 groups of 5 component digits. Power: 100V. Consumption: 300W.

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The Anita… A lovely thing - born out of the “Comptometer” mechanical calculator - or at least the key-entry system.

You typed in a number e.g. 123 not by pushing 1 then 2 then 3, but by pressing 1,2,3 simultaneously - if you can find some videos of Comptometer operators then they’re fascinating to watch - the girls (for that’s what they almost always were) did training courses, sometimes lasting weeks or months, and were lightning fast.

Internally, the blinkenlights are neons and the blue thing? It’s a decatron, spinning away - used not for calculations but to scan the keyboard and provide pulses into the counters. It’s very modular inside too.

I have one, in “deep” storage which is badly in need of repair/restore - one day… It’s a Mk10 - the UK version which counted in pre-decimal pounds, shillings and pence. (I also have an old mechanical F&T Comptometer also in pre-decimal currency)

This is also a nice site for old calculator enthusiasts…




Is the book well written and well organized? After all my research on the 4004-based Busicom 141-PF, I am certainly interested in the subject,
(I’ve been burned a few times buying self-published and self-edited books.)

BTW, I have an HP 9100B desktop RPN calculator with a “bad motivator.” (Most likely the HV power supply.) It was built with no integrated circuits, except for a couple of op amps for the card reader.

Incidentally, I “cut my teeth” learning to program on an HP-65.

I usually check out the preview on Amazon (leaving it possible that I’ll buy from another outlet, of course.) The contents page looks like this:

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Mentioned in one of the interviews, this 1946 contest between the old and the new:

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