The Museum of HP Calculators

HP Forum Archive 12

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Who made the first pocket calc?
Message #1 Posted by Tom (UK) on 30 Apr 2003, 12:58 p.m.

This site makes the modest claim:

"The HP-35 was the first pocket calculator with transcendental functions..."

The HP35 was made from 1972 (but I can't find the month it was available). But the following site:

Claims "The Sinclair Executive was the world's first pocket calculator, launched in August 1972..." Is this true? Does anyone know who made the first pocket calculator (including 4 bangers) that could be bought in a shop? (rather than a demonstration model).

A definition of 'pocket calculator' could be difficult but I think most people would know one when they saw one.

Re: Who made the first pocket calc?
Message #2 Posted by Ron Ross on 30 Apr 2003, 1:11 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Tom (UK)

Hp is recognized as being the first to offer a scientific pocket calculator. Ti actually made the first pocket calculator, a simple four function calculator. Ti's first scientific to answer the Hp was an SR-50 and offered more functions than an Hp35.

I do not doubt Sinclair made a scientific and released it about the same time as an Hp35, but I believe HP was out first. Hp's literature certainly claims so.

Hp also lays claim to the first pocket programmable, the Hp65.

Re: Who made the first pocket calc?
Message #3 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez (Argentina) on 8 May 2003, 9:20 a.m.,
in response to message #2 by Ron Ross

IIRC, the HP35 was introduced in January, 1972. If so, it predates the Sinclair, as most people think.

Re: Who made the first pocket calc?
Message #4 Posted by Larry Gilbert on 30 Apr 2003, 3:03 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Tom (UK)

The first portable (battery-operated) calculator was the Sharp QT-8B, manufactured in 1970. It was not a pocket calculator, measuring about 10" x 5", and it fit into a larger recharging cradle. It used an unusual blue tube display. In late 1970 - early 1971, Sharp shrunk this model to more of a "palm-size" and called it the EL-8; concurrently, Canon came out with the Pocketronic (a printing-only model with a ticker tape type printing mechanism). Many people consider those two the first truly pocketable calculators (coat-pocket only!). The next step in miniaturization came around September 1971, with the introduction of the Bowmar 901B (made in USA) and the Busicom Handy LE-120A (which may have beat the Bowmar by one or more months). These two, especially the Busicom, are closer in size to what we think of as pocket calculators. The Busicom is quite remarkable (and rare); it is only about 3/4" thick I believe, and is considered to be the first calculator with an LED display, and the first to use a single chip. The Bowmar sold initially for $240, well under the $300-$400 for the other models, and therefore sold quite well, not just as a Bowmar, but also badged as the Craig 4501 and the Commodore C110.

I Did.
Message #5 Posted by Al Gore on 6 May 2003, 11:11 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Tom (UK)

just before i made the internet

[OT] Another Invention..
Message #6 Posted by Matt Kernal (US) on 8 May 2003, 3:25 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by Al Gore

Al, you reminded me of another invention I attributed credit to you back in 2000 in a Letter to the Editor to our local newpaper. It went something like..

There is one invention I wouldn't have any problem if Al Gore claimed was his, if only he'd demonstrate how it should be done: the concession speech.

And now for something completely different... hey, wait, looky there, ain't that one of them new fangled cacalator thingies!

Re: Inventions . . .
Message #7 Posted by Paul Brogger on 8 May 2003, 5:54 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by Al Gore

I've been working on what may be the first of its kind: a microwave hair dryer.

I need some more beta-testers.

Anyone interested?

(Or maybe you would like to recommend someone . . . )


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