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Author Topic: The ultimate piece of retro-computing  (Read 4188 times)

40hz

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The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« on: February 15, 2009, 02:53:28 PM »
Quiz:

1. Are you like my great-grandfather? He believed human technology reached it's peak with the introduction of the Model-T Ford and went steadily downhill ever since.

2. Do you miss the days of JFK when men were "real men"; women were "real women"; and the geeks with pocket protectors were "real geeks with pocket protectors"?

3. Do you remember how to use a slide rule? (Assuming you  know what one is.)

4. Do you always have a perverse desire to do things the hard way, even if better alternatives are readily available?

If you answered yes to any of the above, take a minute to check out this link:

http://www.stacken.k...h.se/~foo/sliderule/

This is easily the most pointless exercise in Python programming ever conceived.

And also a great deal of fun for all us retro fans. :Thmbsup:

Quote
SlideRule

Tired of having to perform tedious arithmetic without aid? Never having the pen and paper necessary for doing long division? Then SlideRule might be the product for you! Good slide rules are expensive and hard to come by these days, but with SlideRule you can always have a state-of-the-art mathematics aid on your desktop. And best of all: it is completely free! (BSD license)
Features

    * Smooth sliding action
    * Multiplication and division
    * Two-digit precision or less
    * Twin scales: A small scale for range and a large scale for precision
    * A sliding cursor for storing intermediate results
    * Stay-on-top technology
    * A friendly yellow color

sliderule-0.1.png

A very cool piece of coding. Utterly pointless...but still very cool. 8)




zridling

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2009, 03:23:37 PM »
Perhaps your great-grandfather missed tradition more than anything else, something we greatly lack in the 21st century. Instead, our world is lived amidst novelty, the unending desire for the latest, newest thing. Now what's this sliderule thing you speak of, young man? Tell me more of your strange ways....

 :P

40hz

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2009, 03:55:17 PM »
Actually, the old guy was largely self-educated (like many of his generation) and only had about five or so years of what we would call formal schooling. That said, 'Grandpa Roy' was one of the most educated and intelligent individuals I ever knew.

He was also a bit of a savant. He could do rapid mental arithmetic, speed read a book in under an hour, and had damn near total recall of everything he read. He was also ambidextrous. He could (and often did) write with either hand using an elegant longhand script.

He had no use for what he called "idiot gadgets." He felt things like slide rules just encouraged your brain to be lazy. He used to use logarithms when he was doing heavy math. And as was typical with him, he had apparently memorized a good chunk of the Base-10 tables to save himself the need to look them up.

None of his mental talents rubbed off on me. ;D

Roy was well-liked and respected inside and outside the family circle. He made it to three days short of his 102nd birthday, and was healthy, mentally aware, and physically spry right up until his last day. He died peacefully in his sleep.

Roy never lived to see the advent of personal computing. I sometimes wonder what he would have thought of the Internet?

I'm guessing the crusty old Gent would have thought it another great idea that got spoiled by idiots. ;D


« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 03:57:59 PM by 40hz »

mwb1100

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2009, 05:05:46 PM »
I once had a cheap slide rule that I goofed around with for a week or two.  I think that even today with calculators, phones, computers, MP3 players, etc. that can all perform arithmetic easily that slide rules should still be introduced to kids at some point in their math education. Slide rules really illustrate the amazing properties of logarithms in a concrete way.

I'm not saying that kids should be taught to be slide rule experts, but that slide rules can be used as tools to teach something about logarithms. Hey, they still use abacuses (abacii?) in kindergarten or 1st grade to teach how addition works, don't they?

Anyway, I suppose it hard enough to get most kids to even pay attention (or even attend) class. But it might help a few 'get' logs.

fenixproductions

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2009, 05:16:50 PM »
Looks like this "ruler" is not working correctly ;)

Since when 2.7 x 23 = 61?

Deozaan

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2009, 05:32:35 PM »
I remember when I was younger that my family had a slide-rule that my brother and I would play with for a few minutes before getting bored. I was never taught how to use it or what it was for. :huh:


superboyac

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2009, 06:53:13 PM »
Actually, the old guy was largely self-educated (like many of his generation) and only had about five or so years of what we would call formal schooling. That said, 'Grandpa Roy' was one of the most educated and intelligent individuals I ever knew.

He was also a bit of a savant. He could do rapid mental arithmetic, speed read a book in under an hour, and had damn near total recall of everything he read. He was also ambidextrous. He could (and often did) write with either hand using an elegant longhand script.

He had no use for what he called "idiot gadgets." He felt things like slide rules just encouraged your brain to be lazy. He used to use logarithms when he was doing heavy math. And as was typical with him, he had apparently memorized a good chunk of the Base-10 tables to save himself the need to look them up.

None of his mental talents rubbed off on me. ;D

Roy was well-liked and respected inside and outside the family circle. He made it to three days short of his 102nd birthday, and was healthy, mentally aware, and physically spry right up until his last day. He died peacefully in his sleep.

Roy never lived to see the advent of personal computing. I sometimes wonder what he would have thought of the Internet?

I'm guessing the crusty old Gent would have thought it another great idea that got spoiled by idiots. ;D
He sounds fascinating.  I often wonder what kinds of things I missed out on from previous generations.

mwb1100

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2009, 11:16:44 PM »
Looks like this "ruler" is not working correctly ;)

Since when 2.7 x 23 = 61?

Well, it does claim "Two-digit precision or less".

fenixproductions

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2009, 02:50:45 AM »
Looks like this "ruler" is not working correctly ;)

Since when 2.7 x 23 = 61?

Well, it does claim "Two-digit precision or less".

In that case it's better to learn Mental_arithmetic instead.

xtabber

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2009, 08:53:06 AM »
The slide rule pictured shows 62, not 61, which is correct within the precision limitations and very close to the correct answer (62.1). It appears that whoever read the answer mistook the fractional markings between 6 and 7 for 10ths (.1), when they are actually 5ths (.2).

The Graphoplex slide rule I used in physics classes in France in the 1960's (and which I still have, although I haven't used it in decades) had a magnification attachment that allowed you to interpolate an extra digit of precision, as well as scales for squares, cubes, natural logs, trigonometric functions and more.

Slide rules have one advantage over electronic calculators in that they show a range of answers at once, which makes them much faster for quick planning purposes. The inexpensive quick calculators often given out as promotions by banks and financial planners, or at trade shows, are just special purpose slide rules.

40hz

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2009, 12:00:01 PM »
The Graphoplex slide rule I used in physics classes in France in the 1960's (and which I still have, although I haven't used it in decades) had a magnification attachment that allowed you to interpolate an extra digit of precision, as well as scales for squares, cubes, natural logs, trigonometric functions and more.

Same as the K&E I inherited from my father, which I also haven't used in decades. ;D

I've also have a circular slide rule he gave me, which got a lot of use when I first went to college.

It was soon replaced by a Texas Instruments SR-10 "slide rule" calculator. It cost about $150 dollars at the time, which would translate out to about 600 of today's dollars. I loved it because it had a square root key and I was taking statistics when I got it.

tisr10.jpg

Unfortunately, I pretty much forgot how to efficiently calculate square roots manually after that. ;D


« Last Edit: February 16, 2009, 12:03:54 PM by 40hz »

Edvard

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2009, 07:16:43 PM »
Hey 40hz, check out these babies.
Good to know my soft spot for old tech is not alone...  :Thmbsup:

tymrwt33

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2009, 09:41:45 PM »
You may laugh at your granddad all you want , but consider the availability of calculating devices to general public, or students: log tables (if you know what they are), slide rules, mechanical calculators known as Comptometers, twice the size of a typewriter and generally available in businesses only, first electric calculators desk models only, then pocket calculators, then home computers such as Commodore 64.

I bought my first electronic computer at K-mart around 1971, when they firs became available to general public. It was the size of external DVD recorder, cost me $129 and lasted about 18 months.

40hz

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Re: The ultimate piece of retro-computing
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2009, 11:04:56 PM »
Hey 40hz, check out these babies.
Good to know my soft spot for old tech is not alone...  :Thmbsup:

Thank you thank you thank you!

What an awesome link. 8)