Extinct Instruments and Electronics

Electronics technology is advancing so rapidly that most new devices and instruments seem to become obsolete in less than five years. Usually this does not mean that they are unusable, they just are not state-of-the-art any more.

Most people just seem to regard these outdated tools as worthless junk, throwing them heartlessly away, even if these once trusted friends have followed them through school, studies and projects. They should deserve an honorary retirement in a cupboard or bookshelf. See my philosophy on antique electronics.

Slide rules

became extinct practically overnight, when the first reasonably priced electronic hand-held calculators appeared. Although fully mechanical in function, slide rules were the predecessor of electronic calculators, and are thus regarded as "electronic" instruments.

Once upon a time a slide rule protruding from the breast pocket was a sure identification of a technical person (bean counters didn't use slide rulers!). Even the modern Nerd Test contains a couple of question about slide rules.


At the time the HP-35 was introduced in 1972, I had not enough money to buy it. My first calculator in 1974 was the HP-21, which was soon replaced by similar but programmable HP-25. I still have and use it almost daily. A newer member in my calculator stable is the HP-32S, still using the veritable RPN notation (the only way to calculate!), but has much improved battery life by virtue of the LCD display.

Hewlett-Packard has an excellent historical review of it's fine calculators at The Museum of HP Calculators. This is a must place to visit, if you ever have owned one!

Other places of interest to the historically minded:

Unfortunately I have not been able to uncover any links about CP/M computers or the original IBM PC. If somebody has any hints on these, please send me a line!


©Jukka Tolonen, 1996

Comments and hints are welcome:

This page was last modified on 30.06.96.