Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible

22Feb/100

Slide rules rule

The March/April 2009 issue of the Stanford Magazine had this delightful letter to the editor.

GOLDEN RULES

The article on Tom Wyman and his slide rule collection (“Calculating Collector,” Red All Over, January/February) takes me back to 1972, when Hewlett Packard introduced the HP-35, its first pocket scientific calculator, priced at $395. I was living in Palo Alto then, so I went to the Stanford Bookstore to see it. I found a gentleman standing at the counter, experimenting with the display model. When he finished, I asked him if he was thinking of buying one. No, he replied, he was just a salesman who happened to be calling on the store. I asked him what he sold and he answered, “Pickett slide rules.”

“Well,” I said, “doesn’t this new gadget have you worried?”

“Not at all,” he replied, “our slide rules can do anything this can do, at a tenth the price. Our sales are better than ever.”

Of course, the rest is now history, and so are those once-ubiquitous Pickett slide rules.

Richard A. Dirks, Gr. ’62
Asheville, North Carolina

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