A problem with calculators

I seem to like calculators quite a lot. Possibly a bit too much. Some would say, its an obsession (Pffft, what do they know). The technology of a simple calculator has always intrigued me. It has sent people to the moon, won countless wars and dates back over 4000 years. Come on, that's cool right! Alright, so the first calculators weren't electronic or have some funky graphing modes, but even the mechanical simplicity (and sometimes complexity) has been a real interest.

Mankind has gone from beads to the abacus, from the mechanical calculator to the digital programmable supercomputer of the modern age. The technological connections are a real marvel to behold.

One calculator in particular has always fascinated me. The Curta calculator.

The Curta Calculator

Designed in the 1930s the Curta calculator has been a real marvel of mechanical engineering. A fully mechanical calculator that you can put in your pocket to solve the problems an engineer encounters. Although not the first mechanical calculation machine. I believe that credit goes to Charles Babbage and his Difference Calculation Engine. Charles Babbage I was fortunate enough to have seen some of the beautiful work of art at the London Science Museum a few years back.

The thing that makes the Curta stand out, is the miniaturisation of the drive trains and gear complexity. Quite frankly its a stunning piece of mechanical design. Primarily the calculator performs additions and subtractions, but can perform multiplications and divisions by repeating the addition by the appropriate number of times. Which is similar to how some microcontrollers handle multiplication now.