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]

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    

Hp-97 Rare Rpn "topcat" Hp Calculator Near Mint Works!Hp-41c Ultra Rare Early "bug #3" Tall Keys Vintage Calculator Works Perfectly!Curta Calculator With Case, Type I Serial No 73391Vintage 1970 Curta Calculator Type Ii With Plastic CaseRate Vintage Casio 121-b Vintage Nixie Display Calculator, Excellent Condition.Rare Antique 19th C Gordon's Adding Machine / Gordon's Circular Calculator W BoxVintage Texas Instruments Ti Sr 60 Printing Programm Calculator, Manuals,cardsHp Calculators And Things Circa 1970'sVintage 1970 Curta Calculator Type I With Plastic And Leather CasesHp-21 Rare Woodstock Hp Calculator Near Mib Works Perfectly!Hewlett Packard Hp 41cx Programmable Scientific Calculator Modules Manuals VtgVery Nice Condition Hp 16c Hewlett Packard Programmers Scientific Calculator Vintage Hewlett Packard Hp-11c Scientific Calculator,collectible Hp Usa ,l@@k !!Hp 41cv Scientific CalculatorVintage Hp-71b Calculator Handheld Computer_2cdcc_made In Usa_titan SeriesVintage Casio Fx-201p Programmable Scientific CalculatorHp-34c Calculator, Case, Plug, Instructions (for Parts As-is)Hewlett Packard Hp-25 Calculator, Manuals, Leather Case, Battery Pack,no ChargerNice Hp Lx200 Palmtop Pc Vintage Calculator Computer 2mb Ram1982 Hewlett Packard Hp 15c Voyager Scientific Calculator (tested & Works)Vintage Texas Instruments Sr-51 Super Slide-rule Rechargeable CalculatorHewlett Packard Hp 41c - For Parts Or Repair - Non Working - As IsSanyo Icc-1418d Ultra Rare Near Mint Calculator Works Perfectly!Res Mark Lx Rare Tube Display Calculator Works Perfectly!Vintage Toshiba Nixie Tube Display Calculator Model Bc-1623g Rare 1960's WorksHewlett Packard 28s Advanced Scientific CalculatorVintage Curta Calculator Type 30098, Made In Liechtenstein, By Contina Ag MaurenHp 41c Scientific Calculator And 82104a Card Reader, Circuits 1, And Quad MemoryCasio Fx 790p Vintage Personal Computer Works Great!Hp 82240b Printer For Calculators3 Hp 9100a 9100b Vintage Calculator Printer Paper Rolls 9120a In Original BoxVintage Hp 41cv Programmable Calculator Excellent Box Manuals Surveyor ModuleSharp Pc-1270 Handheld Computer Pocket Computer With 8k Ram ModuleHp 82170a Quad Memory Pac Module For Hp41c CalculatorBrother Pro-cal 408 Rare Vintage Calculator Works Perfectly!Vintage Satolex Pocketman Calculator Ball Point Pen Org Case Hgp03 New Old StockVintage Hp 20s Scientific Calculator With CaseHp 41cx Manual Vol 1,2 + 41c Surveying Pac Book Early Calculator BooksCasio Sl-800 Vintage Calculator White RareRare !! Hp 19c - With Extra Books And Paper RollHp67 & Hp97 Vintage Calculators With Manuals, Charger Box, Carrying Case & MoreCommodore 9-pb Mega Rare Vintage Calculator Works Perfectly!Hp-48sx Scientific Expandable Calculator+case+reference Guide Hewlett PackardTi-3510 Rare Vintage Desktop Calculator Works Perfectly! Hewlett Packard Hp-32s CalculatorVintage Friden Automatic Electro Mechanical Calculator Model Stw 8 Adding MachinTexas Instruments Baii Analyst CalculatorHewlett Packard Hp-11c (hp 11c) Manual Handbook Guide Hp-41c Circuit Analysis Pac No Reserve Rare Vintage Rca F.m. Coverage Guide Slide Rule Calculator With Case RadioVintage Hp 11c Calculator Rare Vintage Sharp P-rom Loanmaker Loan CalculatorVintage International Harvester Advertising Wheel Farm Performance Calculator Vintage Pilots Flight Calculator Money ClipTiffany & Co Silver Custom Mcdonald's Calculator - Vintage And Rare! Vintage Marchant Adding Calculator Semi Working Nice Shape SteelHp-12c Vintage Rare Made In The U.s.a. America Calculator Looks & Works Great Vintage Rare Casio Th-10 Solar Cell Calculator --transparent (crystal Cal)Untested Casio Cq-1 Calculator - No Battery Cover!!Hewlett Packard Hp-12c Calculator