Slide rules at the movies

I have only one submission, but I feel sure there will be others. This is the late great Peter Sellers, with a circular slide rule:

Dr. Strangelove - Peter Sellers - “An astonishingly good idea”



Not really a movie but [Cliff Stoll] always compensates for this and that proves smile induction over time and space really works!


Just this minute found a sliderule in this clip from Apollo 13…


Not a movie, but real life: Buzz Aldrin used a slide rule to perform some calculations relating to orbital maneuvers on Apollo 11.

I’m also fairly sure they showed up in Forbidden Planet (the film), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (film, again) but can’t find references or stills…

There is also this:

When I was at school, calculators had just been invented (almost) but we weren’t allowed to use them (except in engineering!) so it was log-tables (etc.) however I had a slide rule and was allowed to use it providing I could show the teacher than I knew how! (and I still have it)



Aha, I’ve found a list, which makes it easier, so here’s a still from The First of The Few:

I looked for a clip from Fantastic Voyage but haven’t yet found one.

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Another real-life example I’m familiar with, during the Apollo 11 landing, the astronauts used a “visual check” to verify their altitude when the LEM was in its descent orbit. The LEM had angle markings on the window, whose primary purpose was a sort of artificial horizon for the final phase of landing, but during the descent orbit, the time for landmarks to pass between angle markers was useful in helping to cross-check the altitude.

Neil Armstrong discusses this in the “lunar surface journal” on this page – scroll down to the commentary after 102:26:37 for a better explanation.

Oho! I’ve found another list. It’s an old-school web page with images rather small by today’s standards. And from it, The Flight of the Phoenix:

Also mentioned: “Invitation” (1951), “I Want You” (1950) and others…

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Does TV count? Found this image of Spock from Star Trek using a flight computer.

See also the reddit r/aviation discussion.

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Another, a still from “This Island Earth”.
The partially-reflected figure is “Exeter”, and the guy with the slide rule is the assistant to the movie’s main character – I saw this years ago and don’t recall his name, and can’t figure it out from Googling.

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Nice find! Could be Dr Steve Carlson?

I don’t think so – that role was played by a very familiar actor, Russel Johnson, who was also “The Professor” on Gilligan’s Island, so I’m likely to remember him. (I know a lot more than I should about bad 1970s and 1980s TV.)
My guess is it’s “Joe Wilson”, played by Robert Nichols, but I’m pretty far out on a limb.

Can confirm it’s Dr. Cal Meacham.

Well done! Your Youtube clip definitely beats my hazy memory.

This is not exactly a movie, but it’s not not a movie, and it does feature a slide rule - not only in the title. The 12 min mark of “HP Origins” has the section “Death of the Slide Rule”

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