I love slide rules. I have no logical explanation at all. During my summer break between 5th and 6th grade I taught myself how to use one. I still have fond memories of sitting in the back of my dad’s Buick while we were driving on summer vacation. Slide rule instruction sheet on my knee and the treasured yellow plastic 12 inch slip stick in my hands. I can still smell the plastic.
Darn teachers in 6th grade math class wouldn’t let me use it. In 1973 I started my first classes in electronics engineering. We were forced to use slide rules for the first year. No problem! I was in heaven! Calculators were just becoming a staple in the engineering world and most of my peers were lusting after the latest HP or TI. Not me, I loved my slide rule. To me using a slide rule well was like playing beautiful music on a guitar. Naturally I had to admit the HP was better and faster, but it just didn’t have a soul.
Once we hit second year the rush was on to leap into the 20th century. I organized my classmates and we made a bulk buy of the latest TI wonderlator. My beloved slide rule went into the infamous junk drawer only to resurface when I was looking for something.
I have kept my 12 inch and pocket 6 inch slide rules all these years. Just couldn’t part with them. But alas I need to downsize. I have finally made peace with it and have decided to get rid of my 12 inch Geotec and it’s lovely leather case. This one actually didn’t get used much (I had several) as my pocket one was my main workhorse.
I draw the line at my 6 inch slide rule. That one will go into the oven with me when I die. One use I have found for it is calculating things in the darkroom. No need to worry about the batteries failing or a bright screen fogging some paper or film.
It seems many of my fellow photographers on http://photrio.com share my enthusiasm for slide rules. And here I figured I was the odd duck.
2 thoughts on “I love slide rules!”
Great blog. I love mine too. An Aluminum Pickett from around 1959 which I used throughout my undergrad years at MIT. I still have it and plan to get it framed. An old joke: Two aeronautic engineers working around the clock over a weekend with too much coffee to complete the design of some part of a jet plane. Around 4AM Monday, one says, slide rule in hand: “Now let’s see 2 times 2 is 3.98”
Wow that’s pretty cool! Here is a link to some information on Pickett slide rules. https://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/pickett.html
What a great idea having it framed, I think I might just do that.
Thanks for commenting Dave.