Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Geekity Gold Mine

In a spare moment this week I was looking for online instructions for the Faber-Castell slide rule inherited from my father (which replaced the junior version he gave me when I was 6), and I happened across (by way of the unaffiliated MoHPC) the online repository the HP Journal - a magazine presenting the technological advances produced by the scientists and engineers at that illustrious company. Few companies have been as successful as HP has over the years at reducing to practice (which isn't quite the same thing as innovating, just as technology isn't the same thing as science - but I digress) and if you're at all interested in the technological advances of the past 40 years, you MUST go look through these great journals.

My favorite find so far: an interview with the team lead for the development of the first "electronic calculator", discussing the industrial design requirements to keep the device "pocket sized", and how it "would eventually be competitive" with the slide rule despite its $395 price tag.

That's 395 in 1973 dollars, by the way.

The same page also provides access to the Digital journal, which takes me back to being thrown out of my high school's computer lab because sophomores couldn't be trusted at the PDP-11 terminals; that privilege was reserved for seniors. Good times, good times....

Thanks to the Hewlett-Packard company for making these available.

And yes, I am this big a nerd, and I can still use my slide rule a little. Don't believe me? Multiplication: C over D, cursor on C, read on D. So there.

Anyone up for a little Reverse Polish Poetry?

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