21 Sep 2012 nutella   » (Master)

I admit it. Other people influence my buying decisions too.
I was watching with quiet amusement the folk prebuying their new iPhones sight-unseen, just because. Then I realised that any disdain was somewhat hypocritical on my part as I am not immune from being influenced by others. I read Cliff Stoll's Scientific American article on the history of slide rules, and watched him using his during his TED talk. Now I have a Faber-Castell 2/83N, like all the cool kids. Dr. Stoll described it as "beautiful", and indeed it is, although my decades old Boots RingPlan isn't that ugly (but that one is rather worn - partly from ruler-to-rulert combat) (the Boots' model I own was made in Germany so it may have actually come from the same factory as my 2/83N). I purchased my new old slide rule direct from Germany (they seem used to people from abroad asking about them) and the price was modest, considering they don't make them any more, and they kindly included a photocopy of the English version of the manual, as well as the original German. I see the same model on eBay and other sites for considerably higher prices, so some enterprising person could start an import business to keep people like me happy.

When preparing for my O'-Levels, the school I attended taught us with mathematical tables, rather than slide rules. I learned about the latter from a friend who attended the our rival school, as there they took the other path. I have more fondness for my slide rule, which was "for fun", than my trusty book of log tables which I used nearly every day. Yes, we did have electronic calculators available, but those were forbidden during those exams. In later tests the calculators were permitted but, thanks to them using vacuum fluorescent displays, you had to have a pocket full of spare batteries just in case.

Since I was paying the shipping for the must-have 2/83N I also grabbed a "Darmstadt" slide rule "für Maschinen- und Elektro-Ingenieure", partly because it looked like an upgraded version of old-faithful Boots, but mainly because of the awesome Addiator on the back. Now, who's the coolest!

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