Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another calculator story (aka another old draft 07-28-05)


This little relic I've had since high school and is my still trusty checkbook calculator at home (I actually use the HP RPN at work). It's also the calculator I used throughout MIT, as I had not been indoctrinated into the HP cult then. Here is the "other calculator" story that I'm so proud of (shh, don't tell the HP).

It's my last semester at MIT, and for some reason, I decided to take a management course at the Sloan School, 15.001 Managerial Economics (not offered anymore, it was basically a course for non-management majors). I pretty much ignored the class and barely made it to lectures since it was at 9am and a 20 minute walk to get there. By the end, I crammed for the final in order to get a decent grade. The day of the final, I overslept and had to rush to get to the exam. My dorm neighbor was taking the class with me and we were both running out the door to get there.

As we ran across Massachusetts Avenue through a yellow light, my calculator fell on the street. The cars at the traffic light were already starting to go, so we had to wait on the other side for the light to turn red to retrieve it. And then, a car ran over it. I screamed and pointed, OMG! OMG! My calculator, I have a final, what am I going to do!?!



Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the light turned red and we ran to pick up the calculator. The display had all the LCDs lit up black, and I instinctively hit Clear a few times. And it was perfectly fine! Then we both screamed and jumped for joy, as you can imagine two crazy Asian co-eds in the middle of the street. We thought it would make a great commercial like the old Timex watch ones, but probably no one would believe it. We were giggling in disbelief the rest of the way to the exam. I kept testing it by adding and multiplying numbers together, after all, I needed to use it during the final, and wanted correct results. I was so excited about my calculator surviving, that I spent way too much time reliving the moment during the exam. Checking my transcript, I got a B, thanks to this calculator.

1 comment :

-Quentin said...

Nice calculator story.....I have none like that. (thank god, else I would have had a heart attack!)

As for your current love of RPN...I never understood the attraction. Oh yea...one less key stroke....I forgot.

But then again, my mother could use my TI (or Sharp, or whatever) and balance her checkbook with it.

No matter how much I could have tried, I am not sure I would ever get her to understand what a stack is, and why this was a more natural order of operations for a calculating machine to perform.

My father on the other hand....he was a calculator collector of sorts. He had about every "new" calculators when they came out.

I don't know what happened to it, but he had one of the first Bowmar Brain calculators (http://www.vintagecalculators.com/html/bowmar_calculators.html)
....and a Wang desktop calculating machine
(http://www.vintagecalculators.com/681223_104_EL.jpg)
.....and I think the very first TI 4 function calculators. (Oh man, I wish I still had those calculators...they would be collectors items)

My dad loved math! (though he had a very different way to look at things than I do....he would design and build logic circuits from Transistors, and I kept suggesting MSI level gates....he wanted a program to do a certain thing that I whipped up with a spreadsheet (123) in about 15 minutes...but he he continued on and basically wrote a simple spreadsheet program!)

He overachieved over average about as much as I am lazy below the average person! (I always say lazy...I'm not lazy as much as I like to get things done...and the easier I can make things, the more I can get done!)

Suggestion.....print out your calculator story.....fold it up and store it away with your calculator...and some day many years from now your kids will come across this antique and your story, and they will cherish those things forever. (the memory and the calculator)

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