Old Calculator Museum Advertising & Documentation Archive
An early advertisement for the first-generation Mathatronics Mathatron calculators
This is an early advertisement for the first generation Mathatronics Mathatron
8-48 electronic calculators
touting the ease of evaluating complex calculations, as well as their
simple to use learn-mode keyboard programming capability.
The calculators were miracles
of their time, setting many firsts in fledgeling electronic calculator
industry that haven't been acknowledged historically. The Mathatronics
Mathatron was formally introduced in November of 1963, though two
early production, fully functional Mathatron 8-48 calculators were delivered
to Mathatronics' first paying customer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
in March of '63.
It is historically stated that the
Olivetti Programma 101
was the first programmable desktop electronic calculator. That isn't really
true. The Mathatron calculator was learn-mode programmable, just as the
Programma 101 was, but was introduced nearly two years before
the Programma 101 was announced.
Industria Macchine Elettroniche (IME) in Italy claimed that their
IME-84 was the first electronic
calculator in the world to automatically calculate square root. The IME-84
was introduced in April, 1964.
Hayakawa Electric (later known as Sharp) claims that their
Compet 10 was the first
fully solid-state (transistorized) electronic
calculator. Sharp first showed a prototype of the Compet 10 in March
Friden showed a prototype of their capable and very stylish
Friden 130 in June of 1963.
The Friden 130 is also a candidate for the first transistorized
electronic calculator, beating Sharp's Compet 10, but not the
Monroe introduces its EPIC 2000 in
December of 1964, exclaiming it is the first printing, programmable
electronic calculator. The EPIC-2000 is one of the earliest printing
electronic calculators, but the Mathatronics Mathatron, with its
ticker-tape printer, was the first production printing electronic calculator.
The EPIC-2000 is also a two-piece calculator, with the keyboard/printer
unit sitting on the desktop, and a small suitcase-sized unit with the
electronics sitting on the floor beneath, with a rather huge cable connecting
the two unis. The Mathatron is a completely self-contained calculator.
Bottom line, the Mathatronics Mathatrons were revolutionary in many ways,
setting numerous historical benchmarks, some of which were not matched by
other electronic calculators until years later.
Among these firsts, perhaps the most incredible was that the
Mathatrons provided full algebraic entry, which also followed the
mathematical rules of precedence (known as PEMDAS:
Parenthesized equations evaluated first, followed by
Exponentiation, then Multiplication and Division,
then Addition and Subtraction), so that math problems could
be entered into the calculator exactly as they were written on paper.
For example, to solve √4x(2+3) on the Mathatron, one
[√] 4 [X] [(] 2 [+] 3 [)] [=]
and what would be printed on the tape would be:
√ 4 X ( 2 + 3 ) = 4.472136
To perform the same calculation on the Monroe EPIC 2000, the problem would
have to be entered as:
2 [ENT] 3 [+] 4 [X] [√] [PRINT]
While the Monroe calculator requires fewer keypresses, some thought is
required by the operator to enter the calculation into the machine in
order to achieve the correct answer, implementing the rules of precedence
in their mind before committing the calculation to the machine, while no
such thought is required on the Mathatron. The Mathatron's fully
algebraic mode of entry did not become available on any other calculator
until years later.
Along with this remarkable achievement, The Mathatron was the first learn-mode
programmable standalone desktop calculator, with
either 24 or 48 steps of magnetic-core based program memory.
The Mathatron calculator was also the very first
printing electronic calculator, utilizing a ticker tape-like printing
mechanism that printed a transcript of the problem being solved on a
5/8ths inch-wide paper tape, as it was entered, and then
printing the result when the [=] key is pressed. It also was
the first to be able to accept and operate
on numbers in scientific notation; with a capacity of up to nine
significant digits and an exponent ranging from 10-42 to
10+58. Not only was it the first electronic calculator
to support scientific notation, it was also the first to have
fully automatic floating decimal point, as well as leading-zero suppression.
Many of these first were, in some cases, not available on any other
standalone desktop electronic calculator until years later.
All of this is a testimony to the brilliance of the design of the
Mathatron. Given the technology at the time it was designed,
it still seems almost unbelievable that such a machine that could even have