The MIT Museum states that every significant human-built structure for the past 150 years has involved the use of a slide rule…..
Advanced mathematical calculations were being performed thousands of years before the slide rule was invented-the slide rule just made them easier, faster and more accurate. In 1630 William Oughtred invented a circular slide rule and in 1632, using a calculating device and concepts developed by Edmund Gunter, Oughtred made a device that is recognized as the “modern” slide rule. Over the centuries improvements were made and the rules evolved but they did not become common in the U.S
until the 1880s.
It is estimated that over 40 million slide rules, in hundreds of styles, were produced worldwide during the 20th century. It wasn’t until the development of Fortran in 1957 that computers could solve modest sized mathematical problems (some computer centers had framed slide rules on the wall with the motto “in case of emergency, break glass”). “Personal” calculators weren’t introduced until the 1960s and while expensive they could only do simple math (add, subtract, divide and multiply). The world had to wait until the 1970s for a calculator that could perform most, if not all, of the functions of a slide rule. When introduced “slide rule” (ie scientific) calculators sold for $395. As the price (and size) of scientific calculators came down the market for slide rules dwindled, bringing us to the day where they are no longer known, no longer made and could be viewed as a relic from an earlier age. And yet, “there is an app for that”.
The collector Robert Klancko is a member of the Oughtred Society. You can read about it here.
More slide rule & calculating information:
General Information on history and use on Wikipedia
Nuclear Slide Rules on Gizmodo
A slide rule is not a abacus….
The history of the calculator
New Britain in World War I features Hardware City objects produced for the war and items owned by those who fought. The exhibit includes a scrapbook of photos owned by Simon Modeen and a scrapbook of original letters written to the Stanley Works by employees fighting in the Great War. Stanley began publishing their newsletter the “Stanley Workers” during WWI as a way to keep those fighting the war on the home front connected to those fighting overseas. After receiving the newsletter some of the Stanley soldiers would send letters back to the company thanking them for the newsletters, sharing a what they could about their experiences.
These items will be on view until the end of 2017
The museum’s permanent exhibit provides an overview of the history of manufacturing in New Britain; how it all began, the 5 major industries that became established in the Hardware City of the World, background on the beginnings of the Stanley Works and examples of the types of items produced in New Britain to meet the military needs of the United States Government.