I just wanted to show the calculator for the purposes of the post; then I thought rather than just take a photo of it by itself that I would hold it in my hand to show the dimension; and, that escalated into a full-blown selfie. I suppose that I decided to chomp because the US Open aired recently, won my Rafael Nadal, who is my favourite player. And when he wins a tournament, he bites the trophy, and I am nothing if not a mindless copycat.
Anyway, the calculator came in the mail last week. It was a freebie from the Cancer Research Society who want me to show my appreciation by writing them a cheque (that's check for some) ... and I might.
It's solar powered, has memory functions, a square root button as well as a % key.
It feels like cardboard, but it works, and it was cheap enough for the charity to send it to me as a freebie. To get my attention. So that I would write a cheque/check. And I might. Oops, already said that.
It stirs my memory it does, causing me to recall the first handheld calculator that my little eyes ever did see. Pretty sure it was this one. A Rapidman. And I know where I saw it: Eaton's in Shoppers World, Toronto.
It was in the early 70s, possibly 1972 but maybe a year or two later.
It was on sale — for $100 and it blew my mind.
Up until then, I had been using my tiny little brain to add up marks for my students. And then I would use a wheelie thingie to convert their raw scores into whatever I wanted. So, if the kid had a total of 131 out of 169, for example, I would spin the wheels and learn that it was also 78% or 47/60 or whatever I conversion that I needed.
It was a great little wheelie thingie that saved me some steps in calculating marks in different categories for up to 150 students, for I might have 3 or 4 categories to work into one final mark, and it could all get rather time consuming.
Unfortunately, I can't find an image of that particular wheelie thingie, but Google can find all sorts of other calculating wheels, just not that one. So that you can get a feel for the general concept, here's one for calculating pregnancy and birth dates and so on and so forth. Wheels within wheels as it were.
But it was all a little hit and miss. I always fretted about making mistakes adding all of those numbers in my head or even on paper it it came to that. And some discerning student discovered that the wheel could be 1% out, or at least my reading of it could be 1% out. And a percent means a lot to some students.
So, when I saw the calculator ... Mind Blown.
But a hundred bucks was a lot back then. I mean it's enough now but possibly equivalent to let's just guess at $400 now. So, needless to say, I didn't buy it.
As time went on and not that much time either, prices went down. I didn't see any more Rapidman machines, but Sears carried another make (the name of which I can't remember even though I used it for years), and when it went down to $35, I pounced.
But think of it: a 4 function calculator was on sale for $100. On sale! Now, something like 45 years later, I get a freebie in the mail that is more than a 4 function machine and it is solar powered too. No batteries. Free. And it works.
Well, that was the thing that got me started on this post, but please indulge me in reminiscing a little more about technology and mark calculation.
By the mid-80s, within about 10 or 12 years of lusting after the Rapidman, I had my first personal computer, an Atari 800 with a whole 48K of Ram. Wowsa!
I was in heaven. I used a word processor to type up worksheets for my classes. It was great because I couldn't type worth a darn. Still can't. I make loads of mistakes when I type (I just typed ttyp and then typp) but we have those magical backspace and delete keys as we hum (OK plod) along.
I loved using PaperClip as my word processor; I knew all of the keystrokes (no mousing back then) and felt as though I could make the app sing and dance.
And then I purchased a spreadsheet program, Syncalc. And made my own marks template.
Of course, soon enough, marks programs came along, and they worked even better than my homemade spreadsheet.
As I put this post together, I am almost astounded by a few things.
- One, of course, is the whole free calculator thing.
- Then, there is the incredible pace of technological change, and beyond what has been mentioned, there is the reality that I am going to publish this post on a thing called the internet.
- Then, I impressed myself by remembering brand names like Rapidman, PaperClip and Syncalc about 3 or 4 decades later. This is especially impressive since I can't even remember the names of the various pills that I have to take nowadays.
- Finally, how about being able to find all sorts of images online of products that died and were buried decades ago? Who puts them online and why, I don't know, but I think it's great.
And I say to myself, what a wonderful, mind-blowing world.