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Thread: Discoveries and inventions

  1. #31
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    All this talk of slide rules reminded me of my one and only encounter with one. In high school, slide rule use had been taught until a new math teacher arrived. He showed us a slide rule and said, "You will never see one of these again. They do make for a great straight edge, though". He had us purchase Texas Instrument calculators that had trig functions. The school board nearly fired him for allowing calculators to be brought into the classroom. I know this part was true because my father was on the board at the time.
    The math teacher was correct. The next time I saw one was in the Smithsonian adjacent to the lunar landing module exhibit.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Howatt View Post
    The PITA with a slide rule is determining where the decimal point goes in the answer.
    So true. We used to roughly calculate the answer in our head to get an idea of the order of magnitude ie where the decimal point was before getting the numbers from the slide rule.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Howatt View Post
    I used one in the 60s and later primarily for electrical/electronics work. It wasn't a specific EE model but had all the exponent scales etc. Found it in the back of a cupboard a few years ago and I could do the basic multiply and divide but the fancier scales were certainly not obvious anymore.
    My boss had a much longer one so he could get at least one more digit in the calculation. The PITA with a slide rule is determining where the decimal point goes in the answer.
    I had a physics prof who despised calculators, and insisted we do all calculations to, as he put it, "slide-rule accuracy". Of course, he had a monster that would barely fit in his briefcase and cost more than the car I was driving at the time. The engineering majors in that class were miffed, as HP had shown up on campus giving out free HP35s to the engineering students as a largish-scale beta test. (Thankfully, I was a math major: I absolutely hated RPN.)

    Fast-forward four years, and I was at Rockwell on a project proposal that required a ton of manual spreadsheet work. This was awhile before VisiCalc was invented or had anything to run on, so the company brought in cases of their as-yet-unreleased "cheap" calculators. And cheap they were: the over/under for keyboard failure was measured in days...I'm not sure I ever saw one of them for retail sale anywhere. The older engineers grumbled about them, but hey, slide-rules can't add.
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
    We used to be hunter gatherers. Now we're shopper borrowers.
    The three most important words in the English language: "Front Towards Enemy".
    The world makes a lot more sense when you remember that Butthead was the smart one.
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  4. #34
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    and now the only thing I can't do on the built in calc on my phone is math in binary, octal or hex.
    ~mike

    happy in my mud hut

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike stenson View Post
    and now the only thing I can't do on the built in calc on my phone is math in binary, octal or hex.
    Here ya go: https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...hl=en_US&gl=US
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
    We used to be hunter gatherers. Now we're shopper borrowers.
    The three most important words in the English language: "Front Towards Enemy".
    The world makes a lot more sense when you remember that Butthead was the smart one.
    You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much ammo.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee DeRaud View Post
    Oh I have apps to do it, and can easily do it on my laptop. But so much for "you're not always going to have a calculator with you".
    ~mike

    happy in my mud hut

  7. #37
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    My parents used a 'Comptometer' for accounting, before there were electric adding machines. It was a mechanical beast, flipping decimals mechanically like an old typewritter, and had about a hundred mechanical buttons to push. My brother still has it. Never seen another like it used anywhere.

    I think my mother bought it used in the 1950's. No idea how old it was then. Still works though.

    PS: I recently gave my slide rule to my nephew's son, who just graduated in Engineering. His eyes lit up like a 100 candlepower bulb.
    Last edited by Rick Potter; 11-17-2023 at 3:40 PM.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Howatt View Post
    I used one in the 60s and later primarily for electrical/electronics work. It wasn't a specific EE model but had all the exponent scales etc. Found it in the back of a cupboard a few years ago and I could do the basic multiply and divide but the fancier scales were certainly not obvious anymore.
    My boss had a much longer one so he could get at least one more digit in the calculation. The PITA with a slide rule is determining where the decimal point goes in the answer.
    I have a much longer one in my office here. slide rule horiz.jpg

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Stankus View Post
    I have a much longer one in my office here. slide rule horiz.jpg
    That looks like the ones that used to hang on a stand in high school math classes back in the 1960s. Fast forward to the 1980s, my employment was as a field service technician fixing "blue print" machines. Most of the time they were off in a back room right next to the old slide rules mounted on a rolling stand.

    There are at least three slide rules around the house and shop. One of them is a tie tack that is clipped onto an old hat of mine.

    .jpg

    The clear plastic piece with the demarcation line fell off many years ago.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Stankus View Post
    I have a much longer one in my office here. slide rule horiz.jpg
    Definitely bigger than the one he had!
    A friend had a slide rule mounted in a glass case over his desk with a sign on it, "In case of power failure, break glass".
    I gave my fancy K&E one and a 6" pocket model to a friend's son who has a collection.

  11. #41
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    Have you ever noticed how sometimes, seemingly unsolvable problems seem to lessen because of a timely invention or discovery? Like maybe polio vaccine, penicillin or the Aids Cocktail, and like the cotton gin, or steam power?
    Some of the amazing inventions in the medical field would include the ability to insert a stent into an obstructed artery without having to open the patient's chest. A similar method is used to insert a replacement heart valve.

    There are also knee & hip replacements.

    Imagine, people who are not much older than me were born before commercial TV broadcasts became common.

    Not far from me is Astoria, OR which became one of the first cities in North America to have a rudimentary cable system. In late 1948 a radio engineer rigged up an antenna and an amplifier so his wife could watch broadcasts from Seattle, WA. Other people wanted access so it grew. Cable has certainly changed since those days. Now there are cable networks and many people watch via satellite signal.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #42
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    KCBS radio is still going strong since 1909. They were the first commercial radio station in the world.
    Bill D

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Hilbert Jr View Post
    I was trying to remember how to use a slide rule a few weeks ago when I bought one at a flea market
    Reading this this morning started me humming Sam Cooke and Jimmy Jones all day, which is nice.

    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 11-17-2023 at 10:04 PM.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    ...Imagine, people who are not much older than me were born before commercial TV broadcasts became common....
    I'm not sure what qualifies as "Not much older than me" but I was born before the start of The War (that would be WWII) and suspect I'm not the only one around here. I was 8 before I even saw a TV set, with or without commercials, and not because I lived under a rock. TV's and their content have certainly become more sophisticated in all that time and commercials - would you believe that there was a time when underarm deoderant commercials were considered too distasteful for TV? And of course commercials didn't dominate the viewing experience the way they do now.

    Since we're talking about history, progress and all that, here's something to think about: anyone born before sometime in 1941 has been alive for more than one-third of the entire history of our country since 1776, including all the innovations, conflicts, social changes and everything else that happened during those years.

  15. #45
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    Since we're talking about history, progress and all that, here's something to think about: anyone born before sometime in 1941 has been alive for more than one-third of the entire history of our country since 1776, including all the innovations, conflicts, social changes and everything else that happened during those years.
    Mentioning 1776 reminded me of a few newspaper articles from the 1960s about people whose grandfather served in the Revolutionary War.

    Here is one that turned up in a Google search. It is a segment of an old TV game show, I've Got a Secret.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6swMZfNip0E

    The panel doesn't geuss the secret.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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