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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Incessant March Of Technology

From the The March/April 2009 issue of the Stanford Magazine


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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