Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s
Lo-tech delights for button-pushers worldwide
Texas Instruments TI-35 (1979)
If you didn’t have a Casio calculator around this time, there’s a pretty good chance that you had a Texas Instruments one instead. Mostly known now for chips, back then the firm also produced the Speak and Spell and other educational devices, as well as calculators.
Source: Bob Wolfson
The TI-35 was a “slimline” LCD model, with an eight-character display - by 1979 LEDs were, like the Callaghan government, on their way out. With a modest range of functions which nevertheless included basic stats, and a “Constant Memory” which retained values even when the device was turned off, this was a pretty competent calculator, with a very distinct feel to the keys, which felt as if they were hinged at the top.
Hewlett-Packard HP-41C (1979)
If the all-singing, all-dancing card-reading TI-59 was the Fred Astaire of programmable calculators, then the HP-41C was Ginger Rogers, doing it backwards in Reverse Polish Notation. It wasn’t the first calculator to use the method - previous HP models had it, and so did one of the early Sinclairs, too - but it also added a world first alphanumeric display, and was HP’s first LCD model into the bargain.
The display made programming much simpler, and you could even reassign the keys, with blank templates available, allowing pre-programmed calculators to be handed to users for specific tasks. Expansion slots on the top edge allowed for pre-programmed memory to be added, along with peripherals such as a printer and a magnetic card reader which could read and translate cards from the earlier HP-67.