I posted this back in 2005, in an entry in my main blog, but I think it’s worth reposting here.

One of the few things other than papers and photos that I brought home with me after that first week was Peter’s slide rule. I always wanted that slide rule when I was a kid. I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to use it properly, but I knew it was a device for doing math, and I thought that was cool.

I didn’t bring home any of his multitude of graphing calculators. I was surprised, though, looking at his books, to realize how long calculators had been an interest of his; there were calculator-tricks-and-games books dating back to when I was a kid. I remember the first calculator I saw, possibly the first one he owned, an HP-25 programmable calculator (photo); some of the earliest programming I did was on that calculator. I’m still sometimes a little more comfortable with Reverse Polish Notation than with more straightforward regular calculators. . . . Hey, nifty! There’s a Java simulation of an HP-25 available free online!

Peter once promised me a calculator of my own if I learned the squares of all the numbers up to 25. I knew most of ’em, but never did memorize the late teens and early twenties.

At some point in high school or college I somehow managed to lose his HP-25, but he went on to more advanced calculators: a 41C (photo), an 11C (photo), maybe also a 16C (photo), though I’m not sure about that last. I think he didn’t make the switch to graphing calculators until he started to teach math sometime in the ’90s.

The funny thing is that he never owned a PDA and rarely used a computer (outside of work) for anything but playing games; that always seemed a little odd to me, but I wonder if he continued to think of calculators as primarily calculating devices, like the slide rule, rather than small computers.

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