Handheld Calculators
1970 style

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Sharp EL-8

Sharp EL-8
(Larger Image)

The Sharp EL-8 was introduced in about November 1970. It was advertised in a flyer by American Express, and I bought one to balance my check book and help with real estate accounting. Years later the rechargeable batteries finally gave out, and it was cheaper to buy a many-function scientific calculator than it was to replace the NiCd battery pack. Nonetheless, the keypad was a joy to use and a shame to lose. (DT)

"While the Canon Pocketronic with a printed display was introduced earlier [the same] year, this calculator model is generally credited as being the first truly portable electronic calculator with a lighted electronic display. While not quite yet a "pocket" calculator, it does fit in one's hand. The cost was $345, which in 2007 dollars exceeds an astonishing $1,800! For that price you could buy about four budget laptops today. A much smaller calculator with more functions can be purchased for $1 today.

"At the time, the EL-8 was a great accomplishment, however, and well worth the price when one considers the great increase in productivity over hand calculations and the price of prior desktop electronic calculators and electro-mechanical calculators. Mine was purchased for $35 in San Marcos, California on February 2, 2008 from an ad on Craigslist. The seller was a real estate agent who puchased it in the early 1970s for over $300 as he recalled. He kept it in very good condition for the past 37 years. He indicated he had the rechargeable battery pack rebuilt many years ago. It worked until about two years ago. It is now time to rebuild the battery pack again.

"The battery pack had 6 AA 1.2 volt, 450mW NiCad batteries. It looks like it can be rebuilt pretty easily. I temporarily substituted five 1.5 volt alkaline batteries and with some Aluminum foil and wire, was able to get it working. The display is bright and all segments work. It has half height zeros and some rather strange shaped numbers. It comes with the vinyl case in excellent condition and the charger/AC adapter also in good cosmetic condtion with vinyl case. I do not know if the charger works. These chargers were apparently noted for having problems. When it was introduced, I was in 8th grade and would have loved to have had it. It would be a few years later when my family got their first calculator, also a Sharp. About 6 years later I purchased a Sharp scientific LCD calculator for only about $40. The EL-8 is truly a wonderful piece of calculator history and a terrific addition to the museum." -- Mr. (Mark D.) Martin

http://www.mrmartinweb.com/calculator.html (Apr. 2008)

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This page last updated  03-Mar-2011.