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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Stanford Guitar, Apr 21, 2021.
Thought you needed your slide rule/protractor and compass for 8th grade math class.?
I'll never forget taking my fluid dynamics mid-term, about 1970. A lot of computation involved. Everybody was grinding away with their slide rules except one guy that had an HP35. That was the first scientific calculator, and they cost about $400. He finished and left in about 30 minutes, and everyone else was still working a half hour later when time ran out. $400 was big money back then, like two months rent for a nice apartment in a good neighborhood in Boston.
In my freshman year of college, you still weren't allowed to use calculators during exams, only slide rules. A Texas Instruments basic four function calculator cost almost $100 then. But that changed quickly after 1970.
I have to deal with the "retro cool" thing in software development. I don't know why younger programmers have such a fascination with typing code manually out like we did in the 80's and 90's instead of using interactive tools that help you code more accurately and error free.
But, I learned how to use a slide rule back in the late 1960's when I got into model rocketry and I needed to understand trig and the like.
One of my younger peers observed that, by not using an IDE, I pretty much have to understand the code I'm working on inside out if I'm going to work on it successfully. That can be an asset and a liability at the same time.
Slide rules? I inherited a couple complete with manuals and used to know how to use them. They were a result of limitations in the technology of their times, just like manual transmissions (or transmissions at all). There's not a lot of sense in using a mechanical device to get an approximate answer when I have a better, digital mousetrap.
I developed estimating skills at the same time I learned to use a slide rule. Estimate all important calculations first. If you do that, you'll just know where the decimal goes. But more importantly, you'll know if the first three significant figures are in the ball park. This was a far cry from CAD programs which run calculations for you in the background and check that the model can actually be built but with all that computer power and labor saving in calculation time, I still did mental estimates beforehand. That said, the one thing a slide rule never did that a computer or even a calculator does easily is units conversions. And not just between metric and imperial, watts to joules for lasers. Yesterday's tools are fascinating. Sometimes I wonder how someone thought to make them that way. But they're museum pieces, even collectibles sometimes, but they're the tools for tasks that existed when they were designed. You can't have TDPRI on a typewriter, even an IBM Selectric.
Think about it...
The slide is ruled by ry cooder ;-)
When we lose the power grid, those with slide rules will RULE!
My grandfather taught me to use one when I was in the 6th grade and gave me an antique small "pocket" slide rule made of ivory. He'd give me a math problem to solve and then say: "OK, go git yer slip-stick and figure it out." It disappeared decades ago.
Great idea, dad. My father was a math professor and he gave me a very worn slide rule when I enrolled in engineering school. I used the trusty TI but I’m glad I have that rule.
Now there's a great business idea: make really expensive paperweights that are also archaic and obsolete artifacts from the dark ages. How come nobody has thought of this already?
Hated slide rulers and used log books for Trigonometry pre - calculator days.
Ended up being a College lecturer and Maths lecturer at College level. Gee the Greeks were genii and the Arabs also.
In 8th grade, Mrs. Lancaster taught us to use the slide rule with a huge one that hung down in front of the blackboard. Now if you could find one of those, your kid would be impressed.
Still have one, though only used in school. In the service I had a special "Slip Stick" used to determine weight and balance for the cargo plane I was on. Most of my working career there was access to calculators, programmable calculators, mainframe computers, mini-computers, PC's and finally smart phones and tablets.
There was a benefit to start off learning to do math manually.
Yes, you do. 50 years ago
These were cool.
I'm 60 and I was on the cusp of slide rules yielding to calculators in classrooms. I remember still using a slide rule in chemistry class when most of the kids brought in calculators.
I'm an engineer. Since the advent of the scientific calculator, we don't use these anymore - needless to say.
There are groups that hold competitions though, to see how quickly they can be used.
The longer or bigger the slide rule is, the more accurate it is. Many times you'll see slide rules that are circular - this makes them longer without being unwieldy.
I heard the constipated engineer works his logs out with his slide rule.
My older sister got one from Germany, I think, for my son. Same idea. It's just like the one she used in the 1970s, well made. I'll post back with details later.