Calculator blog

Musings and comments about our common interest


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Buying calculators in internet sites

Some comments when buying calculators off eBay or other second hand sites. I have seen several times a seller with a lot experience and good rating selling calculators for parts. When I started in this business I bought from them a couple of times. In general:

  • When they say that the calculator is for parts, refrain from buying: they have tried to make it work in all possible ways, and didn’t work; and all the parts that could be easily used (port covers, LCD, battery contacts, back side of the calculator, circuit, etc.) have already been stripped down or they are not functional. They are professionals, and if they say “not working”, there is nothing that can be done.
  • When they say that the calculator works well, you can trust them (if the rating is good). In many cases it has been expertly repaired by them, using the parts from several calculators (and the rest that cannot be used is sold as above)

A different thing is when you buy a non-working calculator from someone in eBay that doesn’t appear to be an expert. I am mostly focused on HP41cl, and I have had my fair share of mistakes, having aprox. 5 calculator bodies that cannot work or are in poor condition - not good enough for my customers. But the inexpert sellers may have a calculator that is easy to fix (when you talk about the HP41C). In any case, it is a fair bet, provided you don’t spend a lot on it, and the cosmetic appearance is good enough. Please remember to get a picture of the battery bay, to see the situation of its contacts!

A final comment: seen from Europe, buying from the US is so expensive when you factor in all the import costs, that it doesn’t make sense anymore. Either you use the standard post, and then it takes ages to come; or you use one of the main courier companies, and then it is extremely expensive. There are many european providers, with extremely cheap transport costs compared with the US.

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Calculators and the MoMA in New York

Last week I went with my family to New York, and we spent quite a lot of time in museums. I was really impressed by the Metropolitan - for me, miles better than even the Louvre or Prado in Madrid or Paris respectively (leaving aside for a while the Louvre building). But I guess that this is of no interest for a reader of this blog. 

What might be of interest is  visit to another interesting museum: the MoMA, as well in New York. Among masterpieces of modern art, there was a row of calculators:


It seems that the curator has a bent for Italian design, more specifically for Mario Bellini and the different models of the Divisumma series. This is not Datamath or, guys!

Here are the examples above one by one:

The first is an Olivetti 19. If you ask me, I have seen nicer models...


The one below says Underwood 280  - a printing model:


This is the Olivetti Divisumma 18, by Maario Bellini. Observe the seamless rubber keyboard - neat!


And here is the Olivetti Divisumma 28, as well by Mario Bellini, as well with a rubber seamless keyboard.


Notice anything particular about the above calculators? There is no screen! They were just printing machine. 

Googling these models comes a little more information about them. They were produced around 1973 (when HP knew already how to produce an HP35!), and they are considered design icons. It is said that the 18 model is exceedingly difficult to find. 

Additional investigation shwos that there are more units belonging to MoMA, just no on display. Here are some more pictures:

A Sinclair: 


Paulus Van Leeuwen


A Braun, designed by Dietrich Lubs:


Another Braun, designed by none other than Dieter Rams (who designed a lot of Braun products, from appliances to loudspeakers. Sometime I will write on the Braun LE1, a Rams-ized version of the Quad ESL-57 and that is very sought after. Probably one of the finest speakers ever made)


Older Olivettis:


Newer Olivettis (Logos series - I have seen quite a lot of one of them in my life):

CRI_211339.jpgCRI_211363.jpg....and lets stop here.

Frankly, I think that the HP12c or 15c would have a place here. Probably as well some of the 22-25 calculators as well, and the 45, 55 and 80. 

I do not like any HP in green colour - from the 67 to the 48gx. The 48SX should belong as well to MoMA.


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