# Why a slide rule is better than a computer

1. Jan 12, 2006

### BobG

Why a slide rule and pad of paper is better than a computer

1. A Slide Rule doesn't shut down abruptly when it gets too hot.

2. One hundred people all using Slide Rules and Paper Pads do not start wailing and screaming simultaneously due to a single-point failure (on the other hand, 100 people using slide rules don't get to have office chair races in the parking lot).

3. A Slide Rule doesn't smoke whenever the power supply hiccoughs.

4. A Slide Rule doesn't care if you smoke, or hiccough.

5. You can spill coffee on a Slide Rule; in fact, you can use a Slide Rule while completely submerged in coffee.

6. You never get nasty machine fault messages.

7. A Slide Rule and Paper Pad fit in a briefcase with space left over for lunch.

8. You don't get junk mail from Keuffel & Esser offering pricey software upgrades that fix current floating point errors while introducing new ones.

9. A Slide Rule doesn't need scheduled hardware maintenance.

10. A Paper Pad supports text and graphics images easily, and can be easily upgraded from monochrome to color.

11. Slide Rules are designed to a standardized, open architecture.

12. A Slide Rule is immune to viruses, worms, and other depredations from hostile adolescents with telephones.

13. Additional Paper Pads can be integrated into the system seamlessly and without needing to reconfigure everything.

14. You don't have to make payments to own one.

15. Most importantly, nobody will make you feel bad by introducing a smaller, faster, cheaper slide rule next month.

By the way, is there anyone who has actually enjoyed breaking in a new TI-89? Are those the most user hostile device ever invented or do I just know dumb people? (kind of like Microsoft upgrades - when you hear coworkers screaming in agony, you tend to put off upgrading your own computer as long as possible).

Edit: You would be shocked to learn what forum I got this list from.

Last edited: Jan 12, 2006
2. Jan 12, 2006

### rachmaninoff

Integrated circuits are faster than dead lumps of tree.

3. Jan 12, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
I have a TI-89, and it's never bothered me. I like it.

- Warren

4. Jan 12, 2006

### franznietzsche

By the new Ti-89 I assume you mean the USB ones? I have one of the older ones I got back in high school, i've never had any problems with it. Of course, geek that I am, I spent a couple of weeks studying the manual learning all the cool things it could do. Most people get in trouble in freshman geometry for playing games on their calculators. I got in trouble for doing integrals while the teacher was lecturing . But, nostalgia aside, what's so suer unfriendly about them? You just push [2nd] [Math] and you can pick anything from the menu. The only annoyance I've ever noticed is that there is no log button (there is a ln button, but no base 10 log). So you either have to hunt it down in the menu or just type it in ( or do ln(x)/ln(10) ).

Interestingly it looks like TI doesn't sell the TI-92+ anymore. Although the TI-89 was basically just a student version of it, it had some nice extra software along with the QWERTY keys. Hopefully they at least incorporated the extra software into the new 89.

Last edited: Jan 12, 2006
5. Jan 12, 2006

### BobG

That's why I focused on 'breaking one in'. The few people I know that have had one for awhile love them. The three people I've known that went out and bought one have had major problems. Two lost their operating system or some similar type of disaster. One somehow kept doing something to lock hers up - she had to keep taking out all of the batteries to try to 'reboot' the thing. This must obviously be one of those calculators so incredibly difficult that you have to read the instructions :surprised .

As far as where I got the list from .... I got it from a fountain pen collecting forum! One of the members asked where they could buy a slide rule, to which a puzzled member replied,
Who in the world collects fountain pens and why would there be a forum discussing them??!! That's even stranger than the web site for light bulb collectors. (That's actually a very interesting site - especially the discussion forum.)

6. Jan 12, 2006

### mattmns

Hmm, maybe it is the new 89s, I have had an old 89 for a few years now, and I have had no problems with it.

7. Jan 12, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
Yeah, I have an old 89. I never had to read the manual, either -- it has soft-menus.

I must confess that I only know how to use one sort of slide-rule: a simple paper flight computer.

- Warren

8. Jan 12, 2006

### ComputerGeek

YEP... back in the day and all, I had an ancient ti-89... wow, that was torture.
Heh... I had a ti-81... and it was NEW!!!!

9. Jan 12, 2006

### Artman

Actually, somone did. I had a circular slide rule. Much faster and easeir to use than the long straight type. With the straight type, if you went beyond the limit on one side you had to go to the other side to begin again. With the circular you just continue in the same direction. Also, it fit in a shirt pocket without looking quite as geeky. Don't know if it was any cheaper though.

10. Jan 12, 2006

Circular slide rules are the only kind still made. You can still buy them from Concise in Japan. They run about 7 to 19$, plus shipping from Japan, depending on how many scales are on them. And the diameter runs from about 3 1/2" to 5" (multiply by PI and you get the length of each scale). The quality control isn't as good as it used to be in the old days, although I think the circulars always had a few more problems. They're not quite dead on accurate unless the center hole is drilled precisely in the center. You'd think technology would increase the quality, but slide rules aren't quite as much a matter of national reputation as they were in the days when Hemmi conducted classes in Japanese schools and held the big slide rule tournaments. 11. Jan 12, 2006 ### matthyaouw But can you use a slide rule to pull silly faces at people on the other side of the globe? ----> :tongue2: .......I'll get my coat. 12. Jan 12, 2006 ### z-component And by "ancient," you mean from 1998? That's when the 89 was developed. I guess you were joking. :P Like the sliding circle used for traffic patterns that give you the heading for crosswind, downwind, base, and final with respect to the runway heading? I have one of those. 13. Jan 13, 2006 ### FredGarvin You mean an E6B? 14. Jan 13, 2006 ### Astronuc ### Staff: Mentor I used a slide rule into my freshman year of college, which was when the transition was being made from slide rule to hand-held calculator. I the purchased a SR-51 with 3 memory registers, then late a programmable TI-58C, with expanded memory that could be particitioned. The SR-51 didn't last long (only a few years), and the TI-58C slightly longer. I ended up with an HP-41CX, which I still have and use after about 25 years. 15. Jan 13, 2006 ### Integral Staff Emeritus Users of slide rules never regurgitated 9 or 10 digits of a result as if they had meaning. 16. Jan 13, 2006 ### BobG And the first chapter of every text book didn't have to rehash significant digits. Every answer was given to 3 significant digits (or close to it). The Chemistry books by Michael Chang are pretty classic. If you go through the solutions manual, it becomes obvious he solved every problem with a slide rule. If the answer comes from the left side of the rule, it's given to 4 sig figs (1.265 for example); the middle to 3 sig figs (3.61 for example), and the right to 2 sig figs (9.8 for example). I think his are the only current text books that still do that. 17. Apr 24, 2006 ### BobG And yet one more reason I love slide rules: The Slide Rule Song the lyrics to the song (just in case you want to sing along). I wonder if anyone would get suspicious if I used a slide rule in Ethics class? :rofl: 18. Apr 24, 2006 ### Astronuc ### Staff: Mentor I think the air is particularly thin in Colorado today . :rofl: 19. Apr 24, 2006 ### Integral Staff Emeritus That pretty well dates you. I used a slide rule in High School and my first year of college, then I spend 4yrs playing games for Uncle Sam. When I came back in 1973 one of the students at the CC was upgrading from his HP35 to a HP45. I bought his 35 for$175, and thought I got a pretty good deal. I still have that 35 stored away, maybe someday it will be a collectors item. The first scientific calculator.

20. Apr 24, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

I did a summer program ('74) in Nuclear and Electrical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines between my junior and senior years of high school. Most of us had slide rules, but a couple of dudes had calculators, and one had the HP35, which IIRC, had 9 memories. So everyone borrowed his calculator. I think he paid about $800 for the HP-35, so$175 was a pretty good deal. I think my TI was about \$200, and it only had 3 memory registers. I went through three TI's before I got the HP. All three TI's died, but I still have the HP. Best investment I ever made. Now I just need to find batteries.

Last edited: Apr 24, 2006