We Remember Slide Rules, That’s How Old.

I have my dad’s slide rule. It’s pretty cool. I don’t have a clue how it works, and frankly, don’t have the desire to learn. Dad was an engineer – an electrical engineer, Michigan State University grad. After he returned from WWII, he took a job in Dayton, OH at Frigidaire. (BTW: a subsidiary of General Motors at the time.) He said his job was to “break” the refrigerator. I told my friends he was a test driver.

Through college and his time at Frigidaire, I’m sure he and his sliderule were inseparable. When he joined his dad in business running a feed and grain mill, the slide rule was cased and not used much.

My former college roommate loved my parents and made a very nice wood case to display the slide rule and it’s leather case. I’m glad to have it, and display it proudly.

I guess long complicated computations can be made using sliderules. I wonder if it’s becoming a lost art, kind of like cursive writing.

Boomer Chronicles pointed me to the Slide Rule Museum. This is a the same model, featured on the museums website, but Dad’s has a lot less wear and tear.

She writes that she remembers using a slide rule in school. She’s younger than I and I don’t recall ever seeing a slide rule in school, let alone using one. Could be the difference in educational systems, I presume.

The Savvy Boomer told one of his students about slide rules and was asked “how old are you?”

Yeah, we’re that old.

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We Remember Slide Rules, That’s How Old. — 5 Comments

  1. I got my first slide rule when I was in secondary school – a wee pocket model. When I went on to third level, I upgraded [yes – we did have upgrades in those days] to a large Faber slide rule.

    They were the calculators of the day. They were incredibly versatile, performing everything from multiplication to logarithms. Their only problem was that they didn’t come with built in games.

    I still have mine somewhere.

    Grandad´s last blog post..Now you see me – now you don’t

  2. Nice article, Mark. Slide rules (slipsticks my dad called them) aren’t complicated, though. Just various logarithmic scales on rulers basically, so when you add you are actually multiplying.
    I did a post on la60 about changes I’ve observed in number-crunching over the years. Its at What’s a slide rule dad? in case you missed it.
    You gave me the idea for a new post, though, about abilities technology has robbed us of. Yay, something new for the skunk-works blog. Thanks.

  3. @Glenn Palmer: Thanks. I’ve heard the term slapsticks before in regards to slide rules, but had forgotten. Glad to prime the pump for a new post.

    @Grandad: no, that can’t be it.