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Ricoh/Oi Electric Aleph-Zero Desktop Calculator

Photo of Aleph-Zero on display at offices of Oi Electric in Japan

Desktop electronic calculator utilizing approximately 1700 Parametron ferromagnetic devices as logic elements. Parametron devices were compact and reliable, but required much more power, and were considerably slower than transistors. Total power consumption for the Aleph Zero was around 300 Watts, roughly four times the power draw of transistorized calculators of similar capability. Four function plus one-key automatic square root and summation function. Full automatic floating decimal. One memory register. Utilizes Nixie Tube display elements. Ten digit capacity.

The Aleph Zero was designed by research & development engineers at Ricoh Co., Ltd., but due to Ricoh's lack of production-level high-complexity electronics manufacturing capability (it was primarily in the business of producing copying machines and cameras), the manufacture of the calculator was farmed out to Oi Electric Co, Ltd., a large communications electronics manufacturer that had the ability to produce this complex electronic device.

The Aleph Zero may likely have been the first Japanese-made all-electronic calculator that was in regular production. It definitely preceded Sharp's Compet 10 to market. Though the Aleph Zero was advanced for its time, providing automatic sqare root and a memory register, at around the same time, Mathatronics in the US was debuting its Mathatron calculators, which were by far the most advanced electronic calculators to date, and held that position until late 1965, when Olivetti in Italy introduced the famous Programma 101.

Due to the mainstreaming of transistor technology, and high level of interest by calculator manufacturers in newly available integrated circuit technology, the Aleph Zero was the only Parametron-based calculator built for commercial sale in Japan. There were other Parametron-based desktop calculators that were built in the former Soviet Union after the Aleph Zero was taken off the market. The Aleph Zero was not the last Parametron-based desktop electronic calculator produced in the world, though being very the first, it has a definite place in electronic calculator history.