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Nippon Calculator/Busicom HL-21

Nippon Calculator HL-21
Inside Nippon Calculator HL-21

Inside, showing the pinwheels on the right of centre.

Label on Nippon Calculator HL-21
Label on Busicom HL-21

Early model

Late model

Nippon Calculator / Busicom HL-21.

Hand operated, Odhner pin-wheel type.

Capacity - 10 places on the setting register, 11 places on the quotient register, and 21 places on the product register.

410 mm x 164 mm, 130 mm (16.5" x 6.5" x 5"), 4  Kg (9 lbs.).

Made in Japan.

Dates from 1960s - introduced in UK in 1966.

Advertised as the "Nippon Master Educational Calculator". "Price £60 [Sterling], reducing to £39 10s. for educational users."

Makes extensive use of plastics and diecast metals compared to the pinwheel models of the time by other manufacturers, such as the Odhner.

With the introduction of electronics Nippon Calculator became called Business Computer Corporation, known as Busicom Corp - see the name badges in the photographs above.


Busicom were the inspiration to Intel to produce the 4004 microprocessor in 1971. This evolved through the 8008, 8088, 8086, 80286, 80386, 80486, to the Pentium microprocessor.

So perhaps we could say that this calculator is the ancestor of the PC !!

Vintage Calculators

© Text & photographs copyright Nigel Tout   2000-2019  except where noted otherwise.