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The ultimate piece of retro-computing

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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:

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
-40hz (February 15, 2009, 03:55 PM)
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He sounds fascinating.  I often wonder what kinds of things I missed out on from previous generations.

Looks like this "ruler" is not working correctly ;)

Since when 2.7 x 23 = 61?
-fenixproductions (February 15, 2009, 05:16 PM)
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Well, it does claim "Two-digit precision or less".

Looks like this "ruler" is not working correctly ;)

Since when 2.7 x 23 = 61?
-fenixproductions (February 15, 2009, 05:16 PM)
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Well, it does claim "Two-digit precision or less".
-mwb1100 (February 15, 2009, 11:16 PM)
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In that case it's better to learn Mental_arithmetic instead.

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.


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