We have to like [Nicola Marras]. First, he wrote a great mini-book about analog computers. Then he translated it into English. Finally, he opened with a picture of Mr. Spock using an E6-B flight slide rule. What’s not to like? We suggest you settle in when you want to read it — there are almost 60 pages of text, photos, and old ads for things like slide rules and adding machines.
There is a lot of research here. We couldn’t think of anything missed. There’s a Pascalina, Ishango’s bone, a Babylonian spreadsheet, an abacus, and even Quipu. Toward the end, he gets to nomographs, adding machines, and the early calculators.
We badly want an IBM 223-3168 — an IBM pocket calculator that uses rotary wheels to add and subtract hexadecimal. We also badly want to add a Curta to our collection. While we have many odd slide rules, we’ll confess we never saw Consul the Educated Monkey, which was a multiplying and dividing slide rule for kids. We do, however, have a Smarty Cat. We also were not familiar with the French Abaque Compteur Universelle, which was used by the French railway system.
About the only place we mildly disagreed was the statement:
[The slide rule was] always sticking out of engineers’ pocket[s].
Everyone we knew wore theirs on the belt. Engineering students looked like they were carrying a short sword all around campus. Still, maybe someone had them in their pockets.