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Slide rules live!
3

Slide rules live!

Slide rules live!

(OP)
I was working with my fifteen year old son on a computer problem this weekend and he found an old slide rule on my shelf.

"What's this, dad?"

"It's a slide rule."

"What's it do?"

"Puts men into outer space.  Breaks the sound barrier.  Builds the interstate highway system.  Let me show you how it works..."

And he thinks it's neat.  He may never use it, but he knows it exists.

old field guy

RE: Slide rules live!

I wouldn't know where to start with a slide rule.  Can I use it to draw straight lines?

RE: Slide rules live!

Ussuri - You can download generic instructions of the "intended" of  a slide rule from my website - of course smile
http://www.slideruleera.net/SlideRules.html
Also, JAE recently contributed another reference:
http://www.slideruleera.net/contributions.html

The amazing thing is that these instructions are one of my most frequent downloads, month after month. I don't know why the interest in slide rules... but its there.

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea
www.VacuumTubeEra.net r2d2

RE: Slide rules live!

The "slide" ruled engineering for many decades.  Then again, so did the abicus.

I still have four - two bamboo K&E's (college), a metal Picket (High school), and a garbage plastic (?).  

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Slide rules live!

The names K&E and Picket brought a smile to my face.
I nodded in rememberance.
Then I frowned remembering how LONG AGO that really was!!!

Then I smiled. I can still remember that far back!

Somewhere in my many moves I lost my Ivory "K&E Log-Log Duplex Decilon"

Sigh.

RE: Slide rules live!

Yep, no idea where my aluminum Picket is.  Oddly, I won that in high school for something to do with Engineer's week.  This was, of course, after I had already spent $150 to by a TI SR-51, which was waaay more accurate and had way more functionality than the Picket.

So my Picket was never really battle tested.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Slide rules live!

(OP)
"So my Pickett was never really battle tested."

Mine was, almost literally.  I took mine to "bridge classification" class when I was a young tank commander.  Others did calculations to determine a bridge's load-bearing capacity with pencil and paper.  I whipped out a slide rule and made short work of the problems.  Of such things are legends made...

old field guy

RE: Slide rules live!

Ah, memories.  Just pulled out my 6" Post to see If I can still remember how to use it.  Will need a refresher course, after I clean it up.

RE: Slide rules live!

The slide rule was invented by T. Boone Pickett too.  

And actually, I think one of the K&E's I mentioned is a Post.  

The nickname is "Slip Stick".

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Slide rules live!

Picketty, Picketty, Picketty...

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Slide rules live!

I gave my K&E log-log-decitrig to my daughter when she got her engineering degree. It's like passing along a family heirloom. I had my name etched into it.

RE: Slide rules live!

My father-in-law willed his to me.  He was a dentist.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Slide rules live!

you guys have to be in your late 50's and 60's?

slide rule what is that?  Thats like vacuum tubes in old tv's right?  lol

Lets just listen to old stereo equipment because there is no transistor noise.  God loves ya lol

RE: Slide rules live!

(OP)
controlsdude--

You're so very right...  Learned electronics with vacuum tubes, as a matter of fact.

old field guy

RE: Slide rules live!

We are from an area when "the slide" ruled...

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Slide rules live!

Different areas, Mike, but same era.

RE: Slide rules live!

Our library is in the process of scanning and archiving old documents from the 60's.  One appeared a couple of years ago discussing the use of computers and calculators.  There was a brief mention of the new electronic calculators and how they might just take off.

- Steve

RE: Slide rules live!

You read minds well Hokie.  thumbsup

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Slide rules live!

There's an apocryphal story that Intel's engineers had a tough time getting their first microprocessor chip funded, because the BD guys determined that the worldwide demand for minicomputers was only 16,000 units.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Slide rules live!

What's a slide rule?

rofl
  

----------------------------------
  
If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Slide rules live!

Scotty,
Your pulling our chains Right?
Its the thing that sat on your desk, right next to the logarithm table book.
B.E.

RE: Slide rules live!

Oh, those things? I think I once saw one in a museum... tongue

I'm a little too young to have used a slide rule - I must have missed out by just a few years - but when I was about 12 or 13 years old my father took a lot of time and pleasure teaching me how to use one. Once I got past the scepticism embedded in most kids I thought they were fascinating. Today I don't think I could remember how to use it.
  

----------------------------------
  
If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Slide rules live!

Scotty,
wait until the batterys die in your calculator,and you do not have any more. sad shades

RE: Slide rules live!

I got my calculator as a Christmas present when I was 13.  It's still on its original batteries and I use it every day.

p.s. I'm over 40.

- Steve

RE: Slide rules live!

When the 'batteries' in my calculator die it will get real dark and real cold here on planet earth. It's amazing that it works at all in the north of England where the sun is such an infrequent visitor, ha-ha. I bet you can use a slide rule by flashlight though - the solar calculators need a big powerful flashlight to even wake up.

Steve,

I still have my Casio FX-570c from high school. The display is getting a bit tired but it's still a great little device.
  

----------------------------------
  
If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Slide rules live!

(OP)
Scotty--

I've used a solar-powered calculator by flashlight...

old field guy

RE: Slide rules live!

OFG,

The newfangled LED types that melt your eyeballs sure don't work with 'em! Probably down to the specific wavelength of LED light.
  

----------------------------------
  
If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Slide rules live!

So wots wrong with a candle?
You can read your slipstick wiv that.
B.E.

RE: Slide rules live!

When I was at High School,we were taken on a bus to County Hall in Northallerton, North Yorkshire to see "the computer".  The only one in the county, ICL1901.  Punch card input, no screens or keyboards that I can remember!

[For the non  english, Yorkshire is a bit like Texas, but they split it into three to reduce its power......]

Scotty, your Casio FX-570c is a little modern, I still have my Sinclair Cambridge (and it works!)

Bernard

p.s. - no mention of cylindrical slide rules?

RE: Slide rules live!

(OP)
Hoxton--

I never handled a cylindrical, but circular?  The good old Jeppesen E-6B navigation computer was a constant companion when I used to fly...

But the it or similar was a companion to almost anybody who used to fly.  There are probably a lot still out there..

old field guy

RE: Slide rules live!

I have an  E-6B ,the slide lock for the wind triangle solution is broken, but the slide rule portion still works, and being circular you do not have to reset it.
B.E.

RE: Slide rules live!

I last used a slide rule near the end of my first quarter of college, got a calculater as an early birthday present before a final.

Peter Stockhausen
Senior Design Analyst (Checker)
Infotech Aerospace Services

RE: Slide rules live!

We still learn how to use them to compute gun data in artillery missions.

RE: Slide rules live!

I used to have one of my parent's old slide rules hung up in my office. When older engineers would stop by my office, they'd all want to play with it.  

I must have had a dozen different engineers show me how to use it.  It would make perfect sense when they were doing it, but after a week or so I would COMPLETELY forget how to use it. Part of me thinks that it became a running joke with the older engineers in the office. :)

I eventually retired it and replaced it with another reference... a series of charts on how to apply the Hardy-Cross method of moment distribution to various structures....  That connects me to the history of pre-computer engineering in a way that I can actually understand and explain to others.  

  

RE: Slide rules live!

Josh,

That's an acceptable substitute.

RE: Slide rules live!

I just had to replace the batteries in my slide rule last week.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Slide rules live!

I'm DEFINITELY too young to have used a slide rule, but I found one in the attic of my new house.

Decided I'm going to try and use it as much as I can. Forces you to estimate well.

So far it's been awesome.

It's a little tedious, but man does it keep your mind working.

V

RE: Slide rules live!

I use my Curta Type-I mechanical calculator daily. My (younger) guys in the shop just shake their heads.
Hard to explain what the heck that thing is in my briefcase though, when clearing airport security.

Robin.

RE: Slide rules live!

Bernard,

I did have my father's Commodore SR-4190 (I had to look on the 'net to find out the model no.) prior to that but it looked a little dated among the sleek new types of the late 80's. Image mattered when I was young! It would be worth a bit now I should think.

I've just surprised myself at how little a slide rule costs on eBay - I may have to get one just to remind myself how things used to be done.
  

----------------------------------
  
If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Slide rules live!

My high school physics class started with instruction on the use of a slide rule.  That was the last time I used a slide rule as I went to college with a HP-65 mag card programmable calculator.  I remember trying to program formulas into the calculator during tests, but the professor was always alerted by the buzz as I fed the card through the reader.

RE: Slide rules live!

As an exercise to those who don't know slide rules:

- Get log paper.
- cut two strips; mark numbers: 1,2,3, etc.
- To multiply, add logs, that is, align one strip with another. 2 x 3 is indicated by setting the one of one stip at the 2 on the other. Read the answer opposite the 3: 6.
Division is by subtracting logs.

The slide rule helps you add logs. You can also read squares and cubes opposite your scale. Square roots and cube roots are read in reverse. Raising to any power is easy but beyond the scope of this intro. Clear?

RE: Slide rules live!

Should I use two-ply or quilted log paper?

- Steve

RE: Slide rules live!

Which presumably depends on the nature of the job at hand... lookaround
  

----------------------------------
  
If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Slide rules live!

I chucked my slide rule into the attic when I graduated in 1974 and moved to the Sinclair calculator .. inaccurate and ate batteries. expensive at the time too, so pretty rubbish. Imagine my surprise when 30 years later I found the slide rule, checked it out and a fluids exam cheat sheet floated out from under the slide, covered in tiny equations. Those the bad old days before open book exams !  

RE: Slide rules live!

Graduating in 1974 would put your eyes in the bi-focal/progressive stage.  Just wondering if you could read the tiny equations.

RE: Slide rules live!

Read them .... I could even apply one or two of them !!

RE: Slide rules live!

I remember seeing an electronic calculator for the first time during my senior year in college. We called it an electronic slide rule, and it could barely do what a good slide rule did. A few years later, I got a metal hydraulic slide rule. One side for liquids and the other for gases. Boy, was I on top of the world.

RE: Slide rules live!

As I sit there day after day and use all kinds of computer software that just zips through calculations, it is kind of hard to remember that it all began for me when I had to do all that with a slide rule.  Slide rules could do a lot of things, but they couldn't keep up with units and decimal places.

We've come a long way baby.

rmw

RE: Slide rules live!

In 1999 I put a slide rule between two sheets of acrylic with a label on front stating 'YK2 COMPLIANT - IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS' Left it on my desk for months after.

It is still on my bookcase behind my desk. All the grads want to know what it is, many of them don't even recall a threat when rolling over to the year 2000.

Mike  

RE: Slide rules live!

I strongly object to the phrase cheap plastic slide rule!!  I just found my old 10" Faber-Castell Duplex 2/82.  Cheap it was not!!  Reading top to bottom, front to back the scales are -
lgX, tan 0.1X. tan X, X^2, X^2, 100:X^2, 10:X, X, X, arc 0.01X, sin 0.1X, (can't type this one), e^-X, e^-0.1X, e^-0.01X, X^3, X^3, X, 10:piX, piX, piX, e^0.01X, e^0.1X, e^X
And to think I used to know what all the scales did!!

I've also got a 5" 62/83, it's very similar to the 2/82 but with "folded" 10" scales on the back.

Of course for accurate work there was always "Inskips Combined Tables" (log tables based on 1ft).

Those were the days

RE: Slide rules live!

Nostalgia Week.

rmw,
I once took a class on carrying the decimal point while working with a slide rule. I think I still have the class material, if I can locate it. It was like using an old un-dampened ?Chain-O-Matic? analytical balance when you had to get the 4th decimal place, count the moves to the left and to the right.

This last Wednesday I ran into an old co-worker who could and would use this technique to locate the decimal point. The odd part is the he is not an engineer, but a biochemist and was taught this method in advanced analytical chemistry.

SlideRuleEra,
About two weeks ago I was attending to some business where I met a friend of my brother's who was showing me some pictures of his basement shop, where in his radio room  sits a working Collins R390A, the last of the great tube type radio receivers, with a set of Trimm headphones attached.  I spent two years in the Army with Trim headphones locked to my head. The next trip up I gave him a box of probably 100 different types of gold labeled RCA vacuum tubes. When he opened the box of tubes I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He said that the majority of the tubes were ones that were getting hard to find.
I am working on a project to recomission my old Raytheon recording fathometer since a friend found a case of paper for it. It is all vacuum tubes and uses a vibrator to generate AC from a 32 DC volt input. All the tubes have been repalced with the above mentioned gold label tubes with the exception of the 2D21 diode. Over the years I have reworked this machine to where it uses no OEM part with the exception of the stylus drive belt, The vibrator is from a GM car, The carbon paper pots are now 3 turn wire wound, the two switches now have gold contacts, the stylus belt drive motor is now a sealed, The chart drive motor has been repalced with a much more robust one, the two contact rails are now solid silver, The warp spring clutch on the stylus belt drive motor has been changed to SS and made a little more robust. the stylus is now Tungsten instead of Steel.

All I have to do now is to find some fish. The last trip this machine made we caught around 2000 lbs of Red Snapper the worth about $2000.00 one weekend. Now you can only have two fish per person if the season is open.
 

RE: Slide rules live!

unclesyd - That is quite an accomplishment. There are so many parts that are no longer available... I can appreciate the "inventiveness" necessary to substitute similar items that will work.

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea
www.VacuumTubeEra.net r2d2

RE: Slide rules live!

...my question to calculator users: "What are you gonna do when there aren't anymore batteries for your calculators?"

...my answer: "...go back to using our sliderulers!"

RE: Slide rules live!

70AARCUDA

Well my calc is solor powered so just as long I don't do my work in the dark I'm good.

Tobalcane
"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."  

RE: Slide rules live!

Twoballcane-

You're gonna be screwed in about 100 million years.

V

RE: Slide rules live!

vc66

hmmm, I did not know that you can use the slide rule in the dark?  :P

Tobalcane
"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."  

RE: Slide rules live!

From;
http://www.oughtred.org/we-get-questions-pt1.pdf

Q11: I posted a K&E unusual Braille Slide rule for sale on the Yahoo group. I received 2 offers from collectors. Someone mentioned that Bob Otnes commented how rare a rule it is. I was
thinking that if there is some library or museum that has a collection I should donate it - rather than selling it. Your thoughts?
A11: We answered, "The existence of the K&E Braille slide rule has been known for quite some time, from the exhibition of one at an Oughtred Society meeting several years ago by a former K&E executive. But that rule's location is unknown and no other example has been known until now." " In 2005 the MIT Museum acquired the K&E Company slide rule collection, which was donated to the Museum by a successor company of K&E. This collection has been known by slide rule collectors and historians for years, but nobody knew what happened to it after the demise of K&E, until recently. The collection is housed in a very large and beautiful oak cabinet with many drawers. Careful inventory and cataloguing of its contents is in progress by the Museum, drawer by drawer. There is not a Braille rule in its contents." "Dr. Deborah Douglas is the Curator of Science and Technology at the Museum. She is responsible for the K&E Collection.  I am sure that she would be delighted to hear from you. Please stay in touch with us regarding this most interesting saga!"
The inquirer wrote, "Thanks for the quick response. It is indeed a genuine K&E Braille KE4081-3 Slide rule. I worked for the American Foundation for the Blind as an Engineer for some years and acquired it then. I've had it for 20+ years. It is from 1952-1955. I'm excited and will contact the Museum as it seems that would be the best place for it. Its hard to believe I have something worthy of a museum collection!"
This saga ended with Dr. Deborah Douglas' talking with this inquirer, who donated the Braille rule to the MIT Museum. The Society is very pleased to have been a part of effecting the preservation of this very rare K&E slide rule.

Bill
--------------------
"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Slide rules live!

I'm a 23 year old engineer, out of school for 7 months now.  I recently came across several old Simpson, Heath, and Weston meters, and a few slide rules.  The meters don't all work, and I've spent some time troubleshooting them.  I've also learned how to use the slide rules.  I don't imagine I'll use them in practice, but they are quite a bit of fun to play with.  

I thought some of the more "experienced" contributors to this forum may enjoy hearing that

RE: Slide rules live!

(OP)
We were conversing about environmental issues yesterday at the office and subject of using mercury manometers as calibration standards came up.  Specifically discussed was the idea that you didn't need a bench full of test equipment and a two-year degree in electronics to verify the calibration of a vertical column of mercury.

Yes, like the slide rule, it might be hard to get four decimal places of accuracy, but also like the slide rule, it was simple and independent of a power source.

old field guy

RE: Slide rules live!

ofg,

But you do need a hazmat suit, full vent hood and disposal agreement for the sulfide sludge that you scrape off of the surface of the mercury pool...oh, and a degree in chemistry to run the mercury still.  ;)

RE: Slide rules live!

As I've stated before now when you would go to meeting on technical matters and you put something on the board and people start moving their PDAs' blackberries, cell phones, etc. you don't know whether they are checking your results or getting stock quotes, taking your picture, or playing battleship, but in the days of the slide rule you knew very well what they were doing when the rules started moving.

I recently recalled a bit of information that my brother passed on several years back about early on in space program.  While standing with a group of people in the control center during launch of an Atlas, Dr Van Braun whipped out his little 6" rule and did a few quick calculations and turn to a companion and said it's on track and left the room. One of the supervisory personnel spoke as Dr Van Braun was leaving stated " in his head and that little slide rule there is more computing power than NASA has on line.

RE: Slide rules live!

Years ago I saw the Von Braun's and Korolyov's (the Soviet rocket designer) slide rules displayed side by side  in the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Both of them were made by Faber Castle...

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