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World's First Automatic Totalizator

What is a totalizator (or totalisator)? These early electro-mechanical totalizators are/were large scale, multi-terminal, real time, mechanical "computer systems."
Brian Conlon has set up a site at which discusses the totalizator and the invention of the world's first automatic totalizator in Australia by George Julius in 1913.
It's a pretty neat site for us early computer, pre-computer, and mechanical calculator crazies!


IACC to Close Down

Sadly, I have to announce that the International Association of Calculator Collectors will close down after issue #23 of the newsletter. The reason is simple -- I just don't have time to continue to generate the newsletter. My toddlers are becoming even more active, and the workload at my job has increased to where it is very difficult to create and publish the newsletter.

I'm not leaving the calculator "business." Far from it! I will just focus all of my efforts on this website -- which is far easier to update with articles, photos, and calculator information.

I will publish three more issues which will include several new articles, pictures of previously unknown calculators, and some great vintage ads (along with some news and other stuff). We will also issue the membership directory again.

If you are a member, you've already received issue #20 which speaks of this and of what you need to send to renew for the last final issues.


RCA Calculators (or are they space helmets?)

A recent sale of a similar RCA calculator on ebay has prompted me to add a small section on one of the most unique looking electronic calculators to come out of the 1970s. There's still a bit more information I can include, but jump over to RCA calculators and you'll see some pretty cool calcs!


Commodore Calculator Transistor Radio

Below are photos of an interesting transistor radio my father-in-law came up with recently. It looks like a Commodore model 202 electric mechanical calculator from the late 1960s or early 1970s. It sure is a "cutie" but we're not sure if it was a promotional item for the actual calculator or if it was produced for sale as a regular radio. I have asked the "radio-guys" and they are not sure themselves -- most have never seen it before.
The radio is about 4"x6" (10x15 cm) and 3" (7.5 cm) high. It uses a paper tape that has no real function other than to look real. The two knobs (in front and on right top) are the tuning and volume adjustments. The label on the bottom notes Commodore Model 202, just like the calc it was designed after. It was made in Japan. If you know anything about the radio and its history, please drop me an email. Thanks!

Commodore Calc Transistor Radio


Nat Semi Watch Photo

I finally found the old ad that has had me lusting after the National Semiconductor calculator watch for some 10 years now. I've included the photo of it and you can see why.

It is full scientific and has a really unusual (and attractive) hinged cover. The watch was LCD and not LED as I had originally thought. The ad is from Scientific American of May 1977 (page 19) and from a company called Lectro-Media. The full ad is not pictured, but the calculator was selling for $300 in either gold or stainless.

Did they sell well? For how long? I don't know any of those answers -- hope to soon though.

Meanwhile we can just enjoy another interesting design from the early days of calculators.

Calculators on TV

On Wed. April 16, Vintage Calculators had their "moment in the sun" on national (US) television. "Smiling Guy" was featured on the FX cable network's "Personal FX" collectible show. He had a 5 minute spot as a "super-collector," showing a few of his calculators. The "live" segment was be generated from his home and showed some of the rest of his displayed collection.

The show highlighted the Canon Pocketronic, Panasonic 850, Calcupen, HP-35, Bowmar 901B, Busicom Handy LE, and a modern "Eco-Calculator" which runs off of salt water.

It was fun but nerve-racking!


Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999 Guy Ball

Vintage Calculators

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