One of the best lines of the day, Al; thanks for taking time out from your movie career to stop by.
I took a summer class at high school (considerably post-1920, before anybody asks) learning to use office machinery. One of the joys of my rather tame life was setting up the largest adding machine to divide 999999999 by 2, pulling a crank very like the one on Miss Cross-Fingers’ machine, and then seeing whether I could run so far down the hallway that I couldn’t hear the gears clanging and chunking before the difficulty of that terribly complex problem was solved by the state-of-the-art calculator. Yeah, I know.
Anyway, learning to use those dinosaurs involved hitting multiple keys at the same time — you didn’t just hit 3,857 by keying 3 then 8 then 5 then 7; you had to press 3000 while you were simultaneously pressing 800 while at the same time punching 50 and also 7.
I think Miss Cross-Fingers is up to 3- or 4-digit calculations. This must be around Day 41 of her course.
Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 26, 2009 @ 2:57 pm
Gee whiz! We boys in physics class just used a slide rule. We weren’t ambitious enough to fiddle with quadruple-punch (or jogging down the hallway and back . . .)
Knowing what I know now about computers, the Apollo Guidance Computer that Mark D references is a pretty scary proposition. It’s a wonder that we got to the moon at all, let alone get back. Seriously, you have more computing power and memory in your kid’s TI-83 calculator that they use in junior high algebra. The major advantage over the calculator shown in the ad is that you could operate it with one finger (gloved, at that), and it was somewhat faster.
And Ardis, slide rules were used to build most everything else relating to the Apollo program, so you weren’t really that far off track.
calculators and slide rules were just fine for getting the right answer. For most tasks the level of precision available was fine. What required a computer on the Apollo mission was the speed at which the answers were required.
Comment by Eric Boysen — February 27, 2009 @ 9:21 pm
My mother tells of the first class she had to purchase a calcultor. She was at the Univ of Tenn in the early 70s and had to buy a $400 calculator. It could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and find a square roots. Now they give those away in cereal boxes.
Michelle, it did addition and multiplication; I’m not certain it even did subtraction and division, although it might have. It certainly did nothing else — no percentages, no square roots, no algebraic functions, just basic arithmetic. Primitive, huh? But nice that it was training open to women, and not just to men.
Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 1, 2009 @ 2:31 pm