The first calculators were abacuses, followed by the slide rule (invented by William Oughtred in 1622), and then mechanical calculators in the 1900s. The first electronic calculators emerged in the 1960s, but were large and heavy because they required many transistors. It wasn't until the 1970s that integrated circuits made pocket electronic calculators possible.

Most vintage pockets electronic calculators are a dime a dozen, with few exceptions (an original 1975 HP-25 programmable calculator in great condition might be worth about $100 or so). A richer vein to explore is mechanical calculators, which were produced in large volumes for business users, beginning in the 1880s with the now collectible Comptometers and Burroughs adding calculators.

True vintage calculator aficionados will want a cylindrical mechanical calculator made by Curta in the late 1940s (Type I) or mid-1950s (Type II). Designed in a WW2 concentration camp by entrepreneur Curt Herzstark and made in Liechtenstein, only about 140,000 of these compact devices were produced. They were the first truly hand-held calculator, utilizing a stepped-gear calculating mechanism. Popular at the time with land surveyors and sports car rally spectators, today they command close to $1,000 in good condition.

On the other end of the scale, if you’re just looking to show off a vintage calculating device without spending big bucks, there's the ‘Little Professor’ calculator game, introduced in 1976 by Texas Instruments, complete with red LEDs. Instead of typing in problems, you type in the answers… but for $25 bucks, who cares?


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Nerd Watch Museum

Nerd Watch Museum

This gallery of hundreds of LCD and calculator watches from the 1980s includes nerd-friendly brands like Casio, Sei… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Technology: Calculators

Vintage Technology: Calculators

Emil Dudek's guide to 1970s desktop and pocket calculators. Includes over 550 calculators and 120 brands. Beautiful… [read review or visit site]

Comptometer: Biography of a Machine

Comptometer: Biography of a Machine

Brooke W. Boering's definitive reference on the Comptometer, a turn of the (20th) century 'shoebox' business calcul… [read review or visit site]

Museum of HP Calculators

Museum of HP Calculators

David Hicks' celebration of Hewlett Packard calculators from 1968-1986. Photos and detailed descriptions of each mo… [read review or visit site]

Early Office Museum

Early Office Museum

This site showcases pre-1920 office antiques, including paperweights, writing ink, paper fasteners, seal pressers, … [read review or visit site]

The Vintage Knob

The Vintage Knob

The Vintage Knob is an extensive resource on all types of audio electronics organized by manufacturer, from Aiwa to… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

1977 Hewlett-packard Hp-01 Chrome Prototype Led Calculator Digital Watch Curta Calculator Type I I, No.548123, 1965Vintage Adding Machine Mechanical Calculator Brunsviga Trinks RechenmaschineCurta Mechanical Calculator9 Vintage Hewlett Packard Calculators, Hp- 21, 25, 31e, 33c, 33e, 35, 45Vintage Hewlett Packard Hp-19c Calculator UntestedVintage Hp 41c Scientific & 25 Parts Lot Unknown Working ConditionVintage Hewlett Packard Hp-65 Calculator UntestedVintage Hewlett Packard Hp-67 Calculator UntestedVintage Ppc Rom Hp 82500b-a07 41c Cv Cx Scientific Calculator Expansion ModuleHp 41cx Scientific Calculator 3 Modules Real Estate X Memory Structural AnalysisVintage Hewlett Packard Hp-10 Calculator UntestedHp 41 Cx Vintage Scientific Calculator W Original Case - Excellent Condition - Hp 15c Hewlett-packerd + Etui + Instruction Booklet 1982 Usa Calculator Vintage Hewlett Packard Hp-97 Calculator UntestedHewlett Packard Hp 65 Programmable Scientific Calculator W/ Case, Manual & CardsVintage Time Module Hp 82182a 41c Cv Cx Scientific Calculator Expansion ModuleAlmost Mint Vtg Usa Hewlett Packard Hp 11c Scientific Calculator Business CaseHp 11c Scientific CalculatorHp-70 Super Rare Vintage Financial Calculator Works Well Hewlett PackardHewlett-packard Hp-41cv Calculator With Original Box, Receipt And InstructionsVintage Hewlett Packard Model 48gx 128k Ram Scientific Graphing Calculator Case Hp 41cv 82104a Card ReaderVintage Hp Power Pack Charger For Hp-21, Hp-22, Hp-25, Hp-27 Hp-29c CalculatorsVintage Hp 65 Owner's Handbook Manual Scientific CalculatorHp 11c Scientific Calculator And Case, Working & Very Good ConditionVintage Hewlett Packard Hp 9815a Desktop Rpn Programmable Calculator Not WorkingVintage Hp-35 Owners Operating Manual Errata Lot Scientific Pocket CalculatorHp 41cv Scientific CalculatorSinclair And Toshiba Lc-844wa CalculatorsVintage Casio Programable Calculator Fx-702p Personal Pocket Computer Japan Vintage Hp 65 Quick Reference Guide Manual Scientific CalculatorVtg Sharp Micro Compet Qt-8d Green Itron Vdf Tube Display Calculator Works NixieHp 65 CalculatorHewlett Packard -35 Vintage Calculator With All AcessoriesVintage X Function Hp 5061-5256 41c Cv Cx Scientific Calculator Expansion ModuleHp 41cv Scientific Calculator With Mathematics Application PacPpc Rom With Manual And "synthetic Programming On Hp-41c"Five Vintage Scientific Calculators - Hp, Hewlett Packard, Texas Instruments, TiHp 20s Scientific Calculator Hewlett Packard College Math Calculus Algebra Wow!!Vintage Quad Memory Hp 82170a 41c Cv Cx Scientific Calculator Expansion ModuleTandy Pocket Computer Pc-3 Vintage Calculator W/caseVintage Hewlett-packard 34c Hp 34c With CaseHp 41cv Scientific Calculator - Including Math Module, Case, And User's ManualHp 41 Cx Scientific Calculator For Parts Or Repair With CaseVintage 1970's Sinclair Cambridge Programmable Pocket Calculator With CaseVintage Time Module Hp 82182a 41c Cv Cx Scientific Calculator Expansion ModuleVintage Casio Calculator Model As - L, Vintage Calculator Circa Approx. 1970Vintage Hewlett Packard Hp Calculator Hp-21 W/ Handbook Asis Nr!Vintage Hewlett Packard Model 48sx Scientific Expandable Calculator And Case Vintage Hewlett-packard Hp 28s Advanced Scientific Calculator - Works/fresh BattVintage Texas Instruments Little Professor Learning Calculator; Working 1976Casio Lcd Calculator, M-800, Micro-mini, W/hard Shell CaseVintage Horse Race-o-matic Calculator "the Simple Handicapper" C. 1962Architectural Data Corporation Calculator Data Dimensioner-(aa)Vintage Monroe High Speed Adding CalculatorVintage Memory Module Hp 82106a 41c Cv Cx Scientific Calculator ExpansionVintage Hewlett Packard Hp-45 Calculator Working70's Vintage Retro Pocket Led Calculator Santron Santronic 81slAddiator Addfeet Junior