Texas Instruments Little Professor electronic pocket calculator, 1978 (c).
calculating; computer technology; games
Jan. 1, 1978
Length 127mm; width 88mm; thickness 29mm
Francis Hookham Collection of Hand Held Electronic Calculators
Donated by Francis Hookham in 1987. Donated to Francis Hookham in 15/06/1981 by Texas Instruments.
‘ “LITTLE PROFESSOR”™ ’ (front, bottom)
[Texas Instruments logo] “Texas Instruments” (top edge)
Yellow Texas Instruments Little Professor, with yellow keys.
8-digit red LED display.
Front casing surrounding keys has picture of a professor reading a book. The calculator also functions as a game/teaching aid.
Rear panel gives model details and patent numbers.
To the right of the keys a copyright date of 1978 is given.
Keys are short-travel, quite heavy to the touch, rock forwards on depression to give a soft but clear click, and bounce back well (S Davis 31/7/2007).
Good condition. Working.
Pocket Electronic Calculator
The pocket electronic calculator is now familiar to us all. However, these everyday objects were still a novelty in the early 1970s and priced out of the reach of most customers. To our modern eyes, the operation of a calculator is quite simple, at least for basic arithmetic. We just push the buttons and the machine does the hard part for us. Since calculators never make mistakes, we need never worry about what goes on inside.
Behind the buttons and screen lies a complex set of miniature circuits. It is the ability of electronics firms to make smaller and smaller components that has led to the success of the calculator. All the electronic circuits that provide the calculating power can now fit onto tiny ‘chips’ of silicon. By also developing the technology for liquid crystal displays (LCD’s), manufacturers were able to shrink calculators even further. When solar power arrived towards the end of the 1970s they could even be made without batteries. Prices fell whilst popularity soared.
Despite all this technology, successful use of the calculator still relies on the knowledge of the operator. The latest machines pack in countless functions and require a large instruction manual. Their increasing power has led to debates about their proper use in schools. The widespread use of calculators – at school, home and in the office – has been blamed for falling standards of arithmetic.
This is in contrast with the early days of calculator use. During the 1970s, a number of textbooks were published to encourage people to use what was still an unfamiliar instrument. These would give examples of how calculators could help with anything, from income tax forms to the weekly shopping list!
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