Drawing the Line...

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Hmmmm ... My first calculator I wore in a holster on my belt, wrote cheat sheet math and chemistry formulas on it, and called it a "slide rule" ... it would do any math calculation needed at the time.
How soon we forget ....
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I haven't forgotten. I still have mine (and my uncle's, too -- more on that in a bit) and I use it frequently. One application: cutting non-45-degree miters. I know the width and length of the cut, but what's the angle? Out comes the slide rule. Another one: I have a customer who does a lot of sewing. I was at her house a couple days ago to take measurements for a sewing table she wants made, and she asked me to figure this out for her. She wants to sew a round coverlet, 36" in diameter, pieced together from from triangles approximately 8" wide at the base, and she wanted to know how many triangles she would need, and at what angle. Out comes the slide rule again.
My father's elder brother Clyde (1915-2001) was a computer programmer almost from the beginning, well before the days of hand-held calculators. I am the only one of his many nephews and nieces who pursued that line of work as well. When Clyde passed away, leaving no heirs but his four surviving brothers, my father settled his estate. Dad called me and said he had a few things from Clyde's estate that he thought I'd be interested in, and he'd bring them by. Wow. It's an old Pickett engineering slide rule, one of the good ones. Heavy, solid, and cold as a stone. And worn from use, my uncle's hands. Sturdy leather case, with his name on it. I don't use it often. But I'm sure glad to have it. I've taught my sons how to use a slide rule. And some day, it will belong to one of them.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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Great story, Doug ... thanks for sharing it! My Dad brought home an analog computer when he was working on his Master's in Geophysics sometime in the fifties. It was bigger than a large microwave of today and was my first exposure to computers and calculators. (I used it to do math homework in jr high a few times and that, and a Heathkit H88, started me down that slippery slope).
I started using a slide rule in grade school, at Dad's insistence, and used one until he bought me an electronic calculator in the 70's as a gift ... a dim recollection of that being a TI-2500?
When I was in the service (Artillery) we used slide rules to calculate azimuth and deflection for firing commands to the guns. There was a rudimentary computer issued to every unit in that era, but we didn't bother with it because we could handily beat it to the punch with a slide rule. In my stint as a FO with an ARVN Ranger unit, I carried a slide rule and routinely used it to send commands to the guns from _my_ position in the boonies ... an unusual technique and something not often done, but perfected for my own use out of self defense when calling in close fire support from a non-American unit. Safe to say that that facility with a slide rule saved my butt a number of times.
My Dad (an honest to goodness WWII hero) got a big kick out of that, being that the only advice he could come up when I left to go off to war was "Just don't zig when you should have zagged". But, he had taught me use a slide rule many years before, and for that, Thanks again, Dad!
I haven't had a slide rule around in years ... think I'll look around for one and take it to the shop for old times sake.
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Swingman wrote:

Got one you can have, if you want. It's not fancy. Just some green/white plastic thing that I gather is nothing special as slide rules go.
Email me with a snail mail address if you want it, or if you at least want me to go dig it up and give you the particulars of make and model and whatnot.
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Thanks for the offer ... However, I'd bet there is one at my parents house (probably one of my old ones at that) that hasn't seen the light of day in years.
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On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 12:33:55 GMT, spam snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

What a great thing to have and be able to pass on, Doug.
Mine was a cheapish white plastic Pickett but I've come across some beautiful old wooden ones. I've seen a fair number that appear to be boxwood and some that were mahogany - a few that look to be rosewood.
In junior high school we had a demonstration version of a slide rule that hung on the wall. It must have been six feet long. That would be a cool thing to have hanging in the shop.
When I went to college in 1968, the engineering guys were not allowed to use calculators. Four years later they were all using them. Big transition.
A big wooden slide rule would make an interesting woodworking project to work on with my kids.
Hmmmmm.
Regards, Tom Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania http://users.snip.net/~tjwatson
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Tom Watson wrote:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category 018&item248087387
<g>
-- Mark
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K&E? Still have one stored below the stage at school.
I'm saving my Jeppson circular for my kids.

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Doug Miller wrote:

I have a Post Versalog that interestingly enough I got in trade with my high school chemistry teacher about 1977 for a calculator I'd won at a math contest. (It wasn't RPN. I had a HP 25C. Who needs a calculator you have to punch parenthesis? ;-)
I can still use the Versalog's C & D scales, and multiply / divide by pi by CF & DF, but the rest of my slide rule skills have, er, slidden. I could pull the hardbound (!) user manul from the shelf, or play around awhile, or DAGS, but if you'd like this opportunity to shine <g>, how did you do that?
I did college (not just attended <g>) in 1977-82. I took my slide rule and calculator to all the exams, and I was usually the only one with a slip stick. I actually got to use it once on a test, and I was so proud of myself for recognizing it ahead of time. "Given these series of load and deflection points, at what load will the beam not return to original after the load is removed?" The 'Yield Point,' IIRC. Everyone else was frantically plotting the points on graph paper. I set the C/D ratio of the first point & slid the cursor to the other points. The first one that didn't match was the weight too far. I finished all the problems before anyone else had completed the graph of first one. I wrote "By slide rule" on the test & fortunately the instructor was old enough that that was a good enough explaination. Like woodworking, the right tool for the right job. ;-)

Ditto.
Thanks.
-- Mark
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CW writes:

Sure must have been! In '72, I used my MIL's calculator to do my taxes: she had paid, IIRC, about $165 for it. Very similar to the $2.95 models now available almost everywhere, but a bit larger so easier to use for us people born without fingers ending in toothpicks.
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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Try reading between the lines a little shall we? Obviously, he's referring to digital calculators and ones that were equivalent to those that now saturate the market.
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Bureau of Business Research at West Va University. They had some with electric motors like the one shown and some that were crank powered. Why they were still there in 1982 I don't know, but the Director had worked there when they actually used them to do Statistical research. You put in even a relatively simple division problem and it would whir and chug for several minutes before giving up an answer. Running the manual ones kinda reminded me of running a manual ice cream machine. A lot of cranking for very little result.
Dave Hall
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Morgans wrote:

Wanna bet? <g> Calculators used to be people who did calculations for a living. I've seen pictures of rooms of people working 8 hours a day on the arithmetic of having bridges stay standing and the wings stay on airplanes. There were quite a few of these folks who could add a long list of two digit numbers in a single pass. Personally, I'd rather be a garbage collector. ;-)
-- Mark
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...and yet how many times have you needed to do some basic arithmatic and have not had your calculator handy? It would also be nice if basic arithmatic was so ingrained that you had a chance in hell of realizing that you put an extra digit into that calculator 'cause your fingers are too fat for those little buttons and now the answer is off by an order of magnitude and 90 minus 10 isn't really 890. Maybe I am just too much of an old curmudgeon at 46 or maybe it is just a case of far too many high school kids at far too many cash registers with no ability to grasp when the register total is WAAAAAY off from what it was supposed to be.
Dave Hall
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Dave Hall writes:

Trade ages, Dave! What I really enjoy is hearing one ask me if I'm going to count my change, as I put it in my pocket. Hell, I caught it out of the side of my eye and counted it as he/she was checking the register to see if the amount in hand came close to matching.
Wonder how many can tell time with an analog clock these days?
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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You ought to see one of them try to dial a real rotary dial telephone . . . ;-) I sure not 1 in 10 can tell why it's called "dialling."
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.
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snipped-for-privacy@vt.edu wrote:

Hadn't used one of those since the breakup, until I had to make a call from a business that evidently doesn't believe in newfangled technology.
I grew up with the rotaries, but I realize now how much they used to suck. Try dialing 1-800-xx8-0999 (some numbers omitted to foil would-be spammers) on a rotary. I think it took half an hour just to get the number dialed. :)
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Reminds me of an idea I had a while back about telemarketers. No restriction on them except the fallowing: (1) No computer dialing. (2) One person, one phone. (3) Only rotary dial phones allowed. (4) The dial on the phone must be a minimum of ten feet in diameter and operated from the edge. (5) No mechanical assistance allowed.

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CW wrote:

I like it. Let's talk to Dubya about this.
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Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
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Touch tone was new in the early 60's. I recall going to the New York World's Fair in 1962 (or 3 or 4?) and visiting the AT&T pavilion. You cold test yourself on how fast you could dial as compared to how fast you could push the buttons. Don't laugh, there were people lined up to try it. We were easily entertained back then. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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