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    

Rare Antique Quixsum (model C) Precision Calculator Adding MachineHp67 Hewlett Packard Programmable CalculatorHp 15c Limited Edition1960’s Curta Calculator Type I No 59986 Contina Ag Mauren! Case & Books!Vintage Hewlett Packard Hp15c Advanced Scientific Calculator-usa-works W/ CaseHp-41c Rare Programmable Calculator Works Perfectly!Assorted Hp Hewlett Packard Calculators Hp 41c, 82240a, 19c, 45, 31e And 34eHp-41cv Hewlett Packard Programmable CalculatorVintage Hewlett Packard Hp-35 Scientific Calculator Original Battery Usa MadeHp-35 With 2.02 Bug Rare Vintage Calculator Works Perfectly!Hewlett Packard Hp 11c Calculator With Cover & HandbookHp-41cx Calculator + Surveying Module And Basic Operation Manual Hp 15c Vintage Scientific Calculator - Hewlett-packard - Plus Bonus Calcs!!Hp 45 Calculator Sharp El-5100s Programmable Calculator Works Perfectly!Hp-70 Ultra Rare Vintage Near Mint Financial Calculator Works Perfectly!Usa-made Hp 15-c CalculatorVintage Hewlett Packard 11c Scientific Calculator - VgucHp-32e Vintage Hp Calculator Works Perfectly!Hp 82160a Hp-il Module For Hp-41 Calculator Vintage Hp-11c Hewlett Packard Scientific Calculator, Case, Exc.Texas Instruments Ti-59 Calculator With Box And ManualsTexas Instruments Sr-52 Calculator With Case Untested For Parts1905 Antique Calculator Bamberger Omega Rechenmaschine Hp 41 Calculator Optical Wand 82153aHp 16c Scientific Computer Sharp Pocket Computer Pc-e500s 32kb Engineer SoftwareVintage Texas Instruments Ti 59 Programmable Calculator W/master Library Module11970 Canon Pocketronic Ultra Rare Vintage Calculator Works Perfectly!Hp-11c CalculatorLot Of 4 Vintage Lcd / Led Watches, Armitron, Calculator Instalite Parts/repairHewlett Packard 97 Calculator No Reserve On Auction!!! As Is Parts Or RepairVintage Cased Aristo Commerz Iii Nr:623 120mm Circular Slide Rule CalculatorBp-1 Ti Battery Pack Rebuild Lifetime Fits Ti-59 58 58c Sr-50 Sr-52 CalculatorsHewlett Packard 15c CalculatorVintage Hp 32sii Rpn Scientific Calculator With Slip Cover_very Nice!Hewlett Packard Hp-38c Financial Calculator Hp 38c - Not Working, For PartsHp 35 CalculatorSharp Pc-1802 Calculator W/ Wall AdapterVintage Wang Laboratories 142t Nixie Calculator. Fully Functional. Rare 1971Vintage Compucorp 344 Statistician Calculator/great Working Condition!Hp 34c Vtg Scientific Calculator Rare W/ Case Hewlett Packard Tested WorkingHp-38c Programmable Financial Vintage Hp Calculator Near Mib Works Perfectly!Vintage Gents Casio Calculator C-801, Lcd Quartz, Japan, 4 Parts Or Restoration.Hp 82059b Hp Calculator Charger Fits Hp-41 Hp-91 Hp-92 Hp-97 Works Perfectly! 2 Vintage Intel C8257 & C8101a-4 Processors - Malaysia 1976 Rare *free Ship* Vintage Hp Hewlett Packard 33e Scientific Calculator With Case, Free ShippingHp Hewlett Packard Rpn Scientific 42s Calculator Non Working Parts Batteries Vintage 1990's Intertronic 831 Computer Pc Calculator Clock & Pencil Sharpener Vintage Programmable Ti-57, Texas Instruments Calculator With Case No ChargerAntique Swiss Mechanical Stima Calculator U.s. Patented Sept. 6. 1932Hp Reserve Power Pack Hp 82004a Hp Calculator Accessory Works Perfectly!Topcat Reserve Power Pack 82037a Rare Hp Calculator Accessory Works Perfectly!Vintage Rare Monroe Litton 1880 Programmable Electronic CalculatorHewlett Packard Hp 11c Scientific Calculator.Hp 41cv Scientific Calculator With Card Reader, Case, Math 1, Financial 1Hp Magnetic Program Card Holder Hp-41c Hp-41cv W/ 22 New Cards + Head CleanerVintage 1977 Red Led Texas Instruments Ti-55 Calculator W/ Box Papers Case Casio Fx-4000p Scientific Calculator + Case Barely-used + Operation-guide Japan!Hewlett Packard- Hp 10 B Business Calculators- Mint Condition, Including Manuals