I need a better test post on here for checking how the page looks so I grabbed a bunch of my pictures of various calculators I have and I’m just going to spit ball some stuff about them in a post.
This is a calculator I’ve done a dedicated video on already! I found a blown transistor in it and after replacing it was able to bring it back to life. It has a VFD for the display and is a standard algebraic notation input calculator.
It has a few other interesting features like a stopwatch, clock, and alarm but, if I remember right, if falls short of having a full calendar. Still very cool!
APF Mark 30
That’s a funny looking calcu…oh there it is. APF was a company who had their hands in a lot of cookie jars. So while they made this nice but generic pong clone, the APF TV Fun, they also made other consumer electronics. I just really enjoyed how well these two devices matched. There is no logical reason to market them together, but the similarly themed products are still cool. It’s also a standard Algebraic calculator with a VFD
As far as I can tell, this is functionally identical to the 121-L I did a video on a long time ago. It’s a fairly standard adding machine style calculator with a VFD. It had the nice features of choosing where the floating point is and giving you a storage register to preserve a value.
I picked up this E variant because it came with the dust cover and carry case I didn’t have before. While not much about it electrically is all that interesting, it uses the wonderful magnetic reed switches for registering key presses. It’s not tactile in any way, but they feel solid and will last an extremely long time. Also at this time it’s disgustingly filthy with cigarette residue all over it and needs a full tear down cleaning. Some day…
Man, I’m really into Casio’s I guess. This is a much later graphing calculator but interestingly it has a color display! There’s no real reason for it to have one, yet it does. I haven’t spent that much time with it. Basically I saw “color”, I thought “that’s weird”, and then I bought it.
There’s a bonus Unisonic blackjack calculator in the background there. It’s fairly unremarkable and has a failing VFD.
This calculator really doesn’t offer much for a collector. I don’t remember the switches being great, it’s typical VFD, it has a weird external AC PSU, and it’s just a single chip design.
But it’s surprisingly pretty in person and not unpleasant to use. I mostly picked it up because it seems so quintessentially 70s though that it could make a great prop piece.
Sharp Compet CS-1109A
I bought this because I mistook the VFD for LEDs under poor quality thrift store lighting. I’m hunting for a mythical desktop LED calculator from the 70s because they just don’t seem to exist or at least aren’t common.
But this isn’t a bad adding machine style calculator. It has all the features you could really want. The keys don’t feel bad but don’t have the distinct ting of reed switches so I’m not sure what they are. The shape is unusual with the vertical display. It makes the calculator seem cheap in a weird way though. Maybe it’s the lack of printer behind the display.
TI Voyage 200
This was a calculator I lusted after when I was in school. I used a TI-89 Titanium and saw this as that, but with a full keyboard. I wrote so many BASIC programs on my 89 that this 200’s keyboard would have made my life so much easier.
If you’re not familiar with the series, this is a fully programmable calculator, basically a computer really. It can load new software over USB and has quite the community behind it. If you want a modern calculator that is unique and capable, this is a great candidate.
Yeah, it’s sitting on an HP-85 which is less of a computer than the Voyage 200, but we’re looking at the 38E here. This is part of HP’s Splice series of calculators and checks just about every box I could hope for in a calculator. It’s got brilliant red bubble LEDs, the keypad is sharp and responsive, and it’s an RPN calculator which gives it that edgy charm. Perhaps a scientific focused model would be better to use on a day to day basis, but I don’t mind it so much for what I usually do.
This one has been barely slightly modify with some copper tape to replace the one sided battery contacts for the rechargeable battery it’s intended to use. I highly recommend the mod I documented in a video, using AA’s instead makes it much easier to power and you can remove them for storage without worry.
Sharp Compet 243V
Oh mama, now this is a calculator! Reed switches, pretty case, Panaplex display, weird memory lever…yes. This is a very nice calculator and earns its desirability when you have a chance to use it in person. Outside it looks cheap with the white and brown plastic, but inside it’s built like a tank and it feels like it when you use it. The switches glide and the ting from the reed switches are just so nice.
The Nixie related Panaplex display has a pleasing glow to it that no filtered VFD could ever replace. This is really a nice calculator. It’s shame it is marred by having a weird power cable, but cutting a figure 8 cable in half and jamming it over the outside prongs will work, but I’m not going to say it’s a good idea.
Alright, that’s enough for now. I actually got so caught up in cooing over the calculators that I forgot this was just supposed to be a test post. But they are so special and really the free form innovation of the early 80s computer industry lived on for much longer in calculators. So they are fascinating to look at now and then.