9:24:16 A 35-Year-Old Calculator

Recently, I bought a nicely designed, though unbranded, electronic calculator at DollarTree. That got me to thinking about a vintage Casio calculator, occasionally used, sitting in a kitchen drawer.

[two calculators]

I honestly had no idea how old it was. I can't remember changing batteries. Two sizey AAs have probably served the low-power-consumption chip and an 8-digit LCD display for decades. I wish I could say the same for some digital cameras.

Curious about the Casio's age, I googled Casio HL-807 electronic calculator. Not only did I confirm its manufacture as from 1979 to 1981, but the Smithsonian has one in a collection of handheld electronic calculators.

The Smithsonian catalog entry says the Casio HL-807 originally sold for $13.95 and toward the end of its manufacturing run sold for $8.88. I paid less. It was free when I decided to finally open a checking account. Possibly as a signup bonus, Wells Fargo gave me the Casio, a welcoming gift that surely goes with balancing a checkbook.

Getting a freebie, growing fond of it, might mean keeping it thirty-five years. Nonetheless, the HL-807 from the Casio Computer Co., Inc. of Japan was built to last. Nothing cheap about the fit and finish of the keys or a nice on/off switch on the side [surely antiquated today]. Other than some vinegar and Q-tips [tm] to clean off the case and the internal contact points of the switch, it's required no maintenance.

The Casio has four basic arithmetical functions and does percentages. It also has a quirky automatic memory register. That is, when one does a calculation and presses =, the result automatically goes into the memory register. Next, one can enter a new number, press an operation key, press MR for memory recall, press = and voila!

How do I compare my new DollarTree calculator to its predecessor? Some advances from the Casio of yore. Separate ON and OFF buttons. A single memory register uses three keys: M+ M- and MRC. Like the Casio, percentages, but also a square-root key.

But impressively the DollarTree calculator uses one cheap LR1130 button battery. [which DollarTree sells eight for a buck] More impressive, a backup power source: a solar cell! I took out the battery, and indoors within a reasonable 8-10 feet from the light source you'll need to see anyway, the calculator works.

But possibly because the new calculator is about half as thick, I don't expect it to best Casio's thirty-five years and counting!

Image credit: Charlie Dickinson


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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection [and feel free to share with a friend] The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.



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