So I’m ready for a power outage

… thanks to my kids and their thoughtfulness this Christmas.

One of those Daddy’s stories things.  I forget the details, but it had something to do with the history of computation – before the iPhone calculator was the TI83 and trusty HP calculators, preceded by the ca. $200 four-function calculators, preceded by the slide rule, preceded by the abacus, etc., etc.  (Lots of gaps to fill in, I’m sure. But that’s not the point.) Well, the concept of the slide rule caught someone’s fancy, which led to this gift.

So bring on the ice storms.  I’m prepared.

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7 Responses to So I’m ready for a power outage

  1. […] a slide rule.  Nice story about Art Hunt’s kids listening to tales from the olden days, and bringing back a l….  He now claims to be ready for a power outage at his […]

  2. george.w says:

    Sweet! You’re also ready with an illustration about significant digits the next time some student’s answer runs to more of them than the data that went into the question.

  3. Clem Weidenbenner says:

    I had a slide rule in high school. Took it with me to college… (not sure why) but at a Halloween party I went as a nerd (as much to pester my roommate – an EE major who owned and regularly used a really nice slide rule). Borrowed a pair of glasses and taped up the nose with electrical tape. Had an old button down Oxford from Goodwill that we put a huge ink stain on right below the pocket. The slide rule sticking out of the pocket was too clunky, but it worked well enough for an opening at the party.
    Roommate plus a few beers is duly ticked. He gets in my face and loudly challenges me use the thing. I used it to find a couple square roots… he wanted logs too, but others around me were impressed enough with the roots that I got off.
    But if the lights go off here now (and I can find the slide rule), I’m afraid all I’d have is a story about a college Halloween party.

  4. Jude says:

    My older brother was given a slide rule as a teenager by a teacher/relative who only saw us a few times a year. I was probably 9 years old, but from my perspective, it was one of those instances where an adult recognizes something special about a kid and gives them a gift that’s completely appropriate for them. A teacher who did something similar for me is the teacher who encouraged me to read MacKinlay Kantor’s novel Andersonville when I was 14. My brother still loves slide rules (I think he’s now about 62).

  5. Dave Wisker says:

    Slides rules make great extended middle fingers.

  6. Dave Myers says:

    Now that is going way back, when electronic calculators cost as much as iPhones cost today. Lets not reveal our age then…

  7. Tom English says:

    Al, the only thing I have from my teens is my slide rule. Hanging onto it is somewhat of a joke for me, as a computer scientist.

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