Drawing the Line...

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Mark Jerde writes:

Not fighting. Why are you paying that much for a calculator to do arithmetic?
I recall my college math teacher as being young, confused and not a teacher. He simply didn't like it, so stayed home whenever he or his wife had a hangnail or ingrown hair. He showed up for class almost as often as I did, which was about 1 in 3, so none of us were taught, or learned, a thing.
Charlie Self
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Mark Twain
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Charlie Self wrote:

Sounds like mine. He had a 20-point D range.
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Sorry, GIGO applies here.
Punching at the calculator can give the most amazing results for those who have no concept of the range of possibilities. You HAVE to master arithmetic.
I like to go to the under 30 checkout drudge and give change to make up the even quarter or dollar _after_ they've had the machine calculate the change. Amazing.
As to math majors - in my day they were a malodorous, bemused lot with rumpled filthy clothes and slide rules holstered on their hip. Up on campus today they're the same, except they have calculators in those holsters. Hell, even my friends in the physics department think math majors are odd....

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George wrote:

Funny. My wife has been a "checkout drudge" at Wal-Mart for some 10 years now. She was a math major.
She's over 30 though.
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BUT: Without the arithmetic skills, math is a drag, you fall behind, without the math, the higher level stuff is near to impossible, because you don't have the basics of number manipulation.
BTW, my first calculator was bought as a junior in HS, and it cost over a hundred, and did what a 5 buck calculator does now. Before that, calculators did not exist.
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Jim in NC



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yes they did. they came from hp, and cost $400. i still use mine, purchased in 1972.
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--
Jim in NC



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Morgans wrote:

Perhaps for learning, but maybe not using. How many of today's engineers are 10% as good at arithmetic as the slide rule generations? My late great uncle was a EE in the 1920's - 60's. He showed me once how they roughed out on a slide rule something having to do with (IIRC) hanging long-span transmission lines, like over a gorge. He slid the slide & cursor around a few times on on one side, subtracted the result from 1 in his head, flipped the rule over, made another setting, & read the answer -- including the correct power of 10. Multi-volume log tables were used for the final answer, but the 10" slide rule was accurate enough for most estimations. Those generations were *good* at arithmetic. Are today's engineers less capable because they don't have to do that stuff? I don't think so.

I'm not 100% sure I know my children's birthdays -- they're written down in my wallet ;-) -- but for some reason I know my first calculator, a 1976 HP25C, cost $214.48. <trivia>Can anyone tell what this does? 01 1 02 STO + 0 03 RCL 0 04 GTO 02 </trivia> <g> -- Mark
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    Greetings and Salutations....
On Thu, 16 Oct 2003 20:02:10 GMT, "Mark Jerde"

    My HP 25C cost a bit more than that...$250 or so, but, it was a great tool to have and made some parts of college a lot less painful. Plus. it was really fun to poke around with the "calculator games" that quickly came out for it.     Regards     Dave Mundt
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Dave Mundt wrote:

Bingo!
Now that you mention it, the $214.48 was probably for the HP 25. A day or two after I got it the college bookstore got in the continuous memory 25C. I got my money back on the 25 & got the 25C. No, I don't recall that exact amount. ;-)
-- Mark
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On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 00:18:29 +0000, Mark Jerde wrote:

I can't remember the model number of my early '70's HP, but talk about new math! RPN was/is a kick. Used RPN later in writing interpretive languages.
-Doug
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the first one was an hp35. i got the one that was out about 6 months later, the hp45.
http://www.hpmuseum.org/hp35.htm http://www.hpmuseum.org/hp45.htm
regards, charlie cave creek, az
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On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 10:59:04 -0700, Charlie Spitzer wrote:

Thanks for the links, Charlie. Mine was also the hp45 as it had the "shift" key.
-Doug
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...and when I first started work with an international accounting firm the older Partners could add up a long column of numbers in thir heads faster than I could put them into an adding machine (they were even looking at the numbers upside down from the other side of the desk). They laughed at me and made me practice my adding machine technique by adding up all the phone numbers for "Smith" in the Pittsburgh telephone directory. Standard abuse the newbie stuff.
Dave Hall
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David Hall wrote:

Good story! I just added it to my permanent collection. Thanks.
-- Mark
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With a little research, I bet one could make a pretty solid case that the digital age would have been a lot slower in coming without New Math. A core concept of new math is the ability to deal with numbers in radices other than 10, and it turns out that this is exactly the sort of thing that's helpful when you start to learn about digital computers. While perhaps not essential, being able to think in base 2, base 8, base 10, and base 16, and convert easily between them, is even today an important skill for hardware and software engineers alike, and was likely much more important back in the 60's and 70's when people worked much closer to the hardware.
So, maybe we're not so practiced today at multiplying and dividing by adding and subtracting logarithms, but we're probably better prepared for the world many of us work in today.
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AH, but remember that the "early" computer languages were hex.
All those computers were designed and built by people who had good grounding in "old" math. Base ten is a lot easier for math concepts, because we _do_ have ten fingers. When firmly grounded, we can fold our thumbs inside.

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George wrote:

I don't quite get the new math and hex thing either. I'm not as comfortable in hex as I used to be, and I'm terrible in octal, but I know nothing of "new math" and I used to do hex all the time when I was doing x86 assembler.
It's mostly just that these days you should always use the API and forget about trying to wrestle the last ounce of performance out. Portabilty is the rule of the day, and low level programming is the domain of kernel and device driver hackers. Nobody else really needs those skills anymore.
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Morgans wrote:

Actually, that's utter nonsense. One of my parents had a mechanical calculator. I don't remember that much about it, but it was huge, gray, and had lots of multi-colored round buttons that you punched to do various things. It was a lot more complicated than a simple adding machine, but I don't know what sort of advanced calculations it could do.
Um. Something pretty much just like this:
http://www.oldcalculatormuseum.com/fridenstw.html
Maybe you should have said "pocket calculators" didn't exist. I remember this thing. It was _heavy_.
Before my day though. My first calculator was a TI with an LCD display that only looks somewhat chunky and dated now. Probably ca. 1985.
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Yes, mechanical calculators in one form or other have been around for over a thousand years. My first electronic calculator I had in high school. Bought in 1975. Cost $6.00. There were advantages to living in Japan.

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