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Advance / Wireless World

Advance/Wireless World calculator

The slide switch at top left is to adjust the display brightness to one of three levels - an unusual feature.

Advance/Wireless World desk calculator kit.

8 Digits,  red LED

4 functions.

252 mm x 200 mm x 72 mm (10" x 8" x 3").

Integrated circuit is Texas Instruments first "calculator-on-a-chip", the TMS1802, here date coded 1971 week 38.  All calculator functions are provided in the single Large-Scale Integration (LSI) integrated circuit.  For further information see "The Calculator-on-a-Chip" article.

Assembled from a kit produced by Advance Electronics in conjunction with the electronics and radio magazine "Wireless World".  Details appeared in the September & October 1972 issues.
The cost was 39.25 Sterling [about US$100].

Advance Electronics of Bishops Stortford, England.
Further Advance calculators appear on the British Vintage Calculators site.

Advance/Wireless World calculator

Side view showing the unusual shape.

Circuit board of Advance/Wireless World calculator

The circuit board showing, from top to bottom, the LED display, four LED driver chips, the calculator integrated circuit (Texas Instruments TMS1802 "calculator-on-a-chip"), and the keyboard.

On the far left, near the top, is the white, hybrid thick-film integrated circuit with the clock generator circuit, while at top-right is the power supply.

Integration of the electronics meant that by 1972 there was little electronics inside a basic desktop calculator.

TMS1802 chip inside Advance/Wireless World calculator

Close up of the circuit board with  the Texas Instruments TMS1802 "calculator-on-a-chip", here date coded 1971, week 38.

Interfacing the TMS1802 to the LED display are two SN75491 segment drivers (here date coded 1972, week 35) and two SN75492 digit drivers (here date coded 1972, week 43).

At far left is the white, hybrid thick-film integrated circuit with the clock generator circuit, which helps to reduce the number of components.


"Calculators - the kit approach[1]
   Advance Electronic's Executive 8 calculator is now available as a kit.  Though not as up to date as Advance's latest machines, the Executive 8 nonetheless lends itself well to assembly by a competent amateur constructor.  Marketed in this form through the October issue of 
Wireless World, the kit costs 40 against its normal retail price of 79.
   'Building instructions' says marketing director Rex Nelson, 'are detailed and clear but must be followed accurately.  So far all those that have been put together have worked first time.'
   Nelson has been amazed at the demand for the kit, over 400 having been sold."


Several electronics magazines featured calculator designs in the early 1970s, and several companies supplied calculator kits, including Heathkit (see the Heathkit IC-2009) and Sinclair.  These gave some cost saving and also the satisfaction of having assembled the calculator oneself.
The kit companies usually had a scheme whereby you could return the calculator for fixing if it did not work properly !

In Britain there was an extra price advantage for the kits since they did not attract the Purchase Tax which was applied to complete calculators.  This advantage was lost from April 1973 when the all-pervasive Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced, which applied to almost all products.

Within a few years all there was inside a calculator was the integrated circuit chip, the display, and the keyboard.  The assembly cost was very little so kits had no advantage and died out.


There is more information about Advance Electronics and its calculators on the associated Vintage British Calculators site.



  1. "Calculators - the kit approach", The Engineer, 19th October 1972, p18.

Vintage Calculators

Text & photographs copyright, except where stated otherwise, © Nigel Tout 2000-2024.