This Amazing Machine Is One of the Earliest All-Electronic Desktop Calculators

The Friden EC-132 is one of the world's first all-electronic desktop calculators. This incredible machine demonstrates just how far technology has changed in the last fifty years.
Jessica Miley

Watching enthusiastic people talk about things they love is very soothing. Getting carried away in their excitement about an obscure hobby or discovery is a very good relaxation technique. This video from Numberphile is one of those experiences. But it isn’t just great because host Cliff is crazy about all things related to numbers and old machines, the content is genuinely fascinating. Cliff discusses one of the earliest all-electronic desktop calculators and also one of the first solid-state transistorized electronic calculators called the Friden EC-132.

The Friden calculators started with the first model, the 130 which pioneered the use of Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) a method of logging math problems that made it easier to do complex calculations without having to notate intermediate results. It was launched publicly in 1964 to much delight to the business world. The reception and reaction to the machine along with the story of how the company continued to improve its design and functionality can all be read on the very thorough site Old Calucaltor Musem. 

The most amazing thing about the calculator that is explained in the video is the calculator's acoustic memory. Created from a piece of piano wire, the calculator uses this stirring and a tiny speaker to build a memory system. Definitely, watch the video for the full amazing explanation. Cliff has a working Friden in his workshop and he delightfully demonstrates the old calculator's ability. The machine itself has some serious retro charm and is a good reminder of just how fast technology has progressed in the last 50 years.

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