Hand-held Calculators

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Sharp PC-1210 & Sharp PC-1211
(Radio Shack/Tandy TRS80 PC-1)

The Sharp PC-1211 and Sharp PC-1210 Pocket Computers, introduced in 1980, are included here to show the culmination of ten years of development of the hand-held calculator. Although by this time there were many programmable pocket calculators, starting with the Hewlett-Packard HP-65 of 1974, these can legitimately be described as a pocket computers since, unlike the programmable calculators, they have a full "QWERTY" keyboard and are programmed in the high-level BASIC computer language.

The Sharp PC-1211 (also sold by Radio Shack/Tandy as the TRS80 PC-1) and Sharp PC-1210 are similar though differ in the amount of program memory.

Sharp PC-1211 Pocket Computer
(also sold as the Radio Shack/Tandy TRS80 PC-1)

Sharp PC-1211/TRS80 PC-1

Sharp PC-1211 Pocket Computer, also sold as the RadioShack/Tandy TRS80 PC-1

Distinctive features: First hand-held pocket computer, programmable in the BASIC language.

Technical details:
Display
- 24-digit alphanumeric dot matrix Liquid Crystal Display, with yellow filter.
In calculator mode it can display in scientific format 10 digits mantissa and 2 digits exponent.

Functions - Calculator and 1424 step BASIC language programmable computer.
26 Fixed memories.
Up to 178 Flexible memories (shared with program memory).
Battery back-up of CMOS memory.
A cassette recorder can be connected using an adapter cradle, allowing programs to be saved to audio cassettes. Also a printer & and cassette adapter was available, see photograph below, thus providing the full needs of a pocket computer.

Power supply - 4x Mercury button cells, giving "approx. 300 hours" use. The power consumption is 0.011 watts.

Semiconductors - CMOS LSI, including:

    Two CPUs (Central Processing Units):

      • CPU 1 - SC43177.
      • CPU 2 - SC43178.

    Three TC5514P, 4 K-bit RAM.

Size 175 x 70 x 17 mm (6.9" x 2.75" x 0.7").

Introduced - 1980[1].

Made in Japan.

Board 1

With the rear cover removed showing the "operation" pcb. CPU 2 is the chip in the centre of the board.

Board 2

The "operation" pcb has been hinged downwards to show components on its rear, including the three RAM memory chips on the left.
The "keyboard & display" pcb is revealed, which  has the CPU 1 chip on its left, and three display chips (with built-in RAM) from top-centre to right.

The PC1211attached to the CE-121Cassette Interface unit, which allows programs to be stored on audio cassette tapes and recalled later.
The red plug goes to the cassette recorder "Mic" socket, the grey plug goes to the "Earphone" socket, and the black plug goes to the "Remote" socket.

The PC1211 attached to the CE-122 Printer & Cassette Interface unit and sitting in the de luxe carrying case.

Sharp PC-1210 Pocket Computer

Sharp PC-1210

Sharp PC-1210 Pocket Computer

Distinctive features: First hand-held pocket computer, programmable in the BASIC language.

Technical details:
Display
- 24-digit alphanumeric dot matrix Liquid Crystal Display, with yellow filter.
In calculator mode it can display in scientific format 10 digits mantissa and 2 digits exponent.

Functions - Calculator and 400 step BASIC language programmable computer.
Up to 50 Flexible memories (shared with program memory).
Battery back-up of CMOS memory.
A cassette recorder can be connected using an adapter cradle, allowing programs to be saved to audio cassettes. Also a printer & and cassette adapter was available, see photograph below, thus providing the full needs of a pocket computer.

Power supply - 3x Silver oxide button cells. The power consumption is 0.009 watts.

Semiconductors - CMOS LSI, including:

    Two CPUs (Central Processing Units):

      • CPU 1 - SC43157.
      • CPU 2 - SC43158.

    One TC5514P, 4 K-bit RAM.

Size 175 x 70 x 17 mm (6.9" x 2.75" x 0.7").

Introduced - 1980[1].

Made in Japan.

Board 1

With the rear cover removed showing the "operation" pcb. CPU 2 is the chip in the centre of the board.

Board 2

The "operation" pcb has been hinged downwards to show components on its rear, with only a single RAM memory chip on the left, compared with the three RAM memory chips in the PC-1211, at the top of the page.
The "keyboard & display" pcb is revealed, which  has the CPU 1 chip on its left, and three display chips (with built-in RAM) from top-centre to right.

Ten Years of Calculator Progress

Sharp were one of the pioneers in hand-held calculators in 1970 with the EL-8 and were very successful in the calculator business through the turbulent years of the 1970s. Ten years on from the EL-8 they were still at the forefront of technology with this, one of the first pocket computers.

For comparison, there are details of the EL-8 below.

Sharp PC-1211/TRS80 PC-1

The Sharp PC-1211 pocket computer of 1980, in its Radio Shack / Tandy TRS-80 guise.

Sharp EL-8

Comparison with the Sharp EL-8 hand-held calculator of 1970/1.

Functions:

  • EL-8 - 4 function.
  • PC-1211 - 1424-step BASIC language programmable.

Batteries:

  • EL-8 - 6x AA rechargeable Ni-Cad cells giving 3 hours use.
  • PC-1211 - 4x Mercury button cells giving 300 hours use.

Cost:

  • EL-8 $345 (about 145 Sterling).
  • PC-1211 $229 (about 102 Sterling) (Tandy TRS-80 PC-1 introductory price).
Sharp EL-8

Sharp EL-8 with the back removed showing the rechargeable battery pack containing 6x AA NiCad cells.

Sharp EL-8 board

The display board of the Sharp EL-8 with the vacuum fluorescent display tubes and the display driver chips.

Sharp EL-8 board

The calculating circuit board of the Sharp EL-8 with the 5 chips then required to give the standard 4 functions.

Reference

  1. White, M., "How I use my pocket computer", Popular Science, Nov. 1980, p105.
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Hand-held Calculators

TI Cal-Tech
Canon Pocketronic
Sanyo ICC-0081 & ICC-82D
Sharp QT-8B
Busicom LE-120A & LE-120S
Sharp EL-8 & Facit 1111
Minolta Minolcom
Brother PRO-CAL 408
Walther ETR3
Bowmar 901B
Ragen Microelectronic
Compucorp 324G
Sharp EL-811 & derivatives
Royal Digital III & IV
Busicom LE-100A handy
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Hewlett Packard HP-35
Canon LE-10
Rapidman 800
Texas Instruments 2500
Lloyd's Accumatic 100
Sinclair Executive
Casio Mini
Sanyo ICC-809
Sharp EL-801
Texas Instruments SR-10
Sperry Remington 661D & 661
Olympia CD 81
apf Mark V
Ramsgate M-11
Olivetti Divisumma 18
Iain Jones International Mini A
Hewlett-Packard HP80
Litronix Checkmate
Heathkit IC-2009
MITS 150
Summit Ko9V, K16 & SE88M
Unicom 102
Victor 85 "Tallymate"
Elka 101
RFT minirex 75
Sharp EL-120
Sharp EL-805
Bowmar MX-55
Atlas-Rand, Berkey, & Keystone
Hewlett-Packard HP-65
Casio fx-10
Calcu-pen
Casio AL-8 & family models
Commodore 776M & 796M
Novus 650 "Mathbox"
Rockwell 8R
General Instrument EZ3000
Check, billfold, wallet calculators
Monte Carlo
Texas Instruments Spirit of '76
Pulsar Calculator Watch
Compuchron Calculator Watch
Adler Lady & Sir
Elektronika B3-18A & C3-15
Speech+
Commodore S61
"Standard Type 1"
Sharp EL-8026
Texas Instruments TI-30
Canon Multi 8
Casio ST1
Wrist Calculators
Kosmos I & Kosmos Astro
Hanimex Calculator-Recorder
Navigation Calculators
TI58 Special Function Calculators
Sandvik 842S Coromant
"Standard Type 2"
Panasonic Electronic Ruler
Teal Photon
Casio Mini Card LC-78
Feet & inches calculators
SCAT Specialist Calculators
Sharp EL-826
Sharp EL-825
Sanyo CX-1
Elektronika MK-33 etc
Sharp PC1211/Tandy TRS80 PC1
Curta
Slide Rule
Otis King L

Vintage Calculators

© Text & photographs copyright Nigel Tout   2000-2014 except where noted otherwise.