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    

Curta Calculator 1966 Type 1 No. 62387 With Plastic And Leather CaseHp 41cx Vintage Scientific Calculator W/ Case - Excellent Hewlett Packard 41 CxHp 11c Scientific Calculator Usa Vintage Soft CaseHp-65 Rare Programmable Vintage Calculator With Accessories!Hewlett Packard Hp-11c Scientific CalculatorCurta CalculatorHp-10 Rare Printing Led Display Vintage Hp Calculator Works Perfectly!Vintage 1975 Hewlett-packard Hp-25 Programmable Calculator + Ac AdapterTrs-80 Pocket Computer Pc-2 And Pocket Printer/cassette InterfaceVintage Hewlett Packard Hp-41cv Calculator In Original Box With Manuals ~ Hewlett Packard Hp-10 Calculator With Box - VintageVintage Hp-11c Hewlett Packard Scientific Calculator Usa In Vintage Soft CaseVintage Hewlett Packard 65b Programable Calculator With Power CordRare Hewlett-packard Hp-70 Business Financial Pocket Calculator 1970'sHp-35 Vintage Scientific Calculator Hewlett Packard 35 + Leather Case + Hard Vintage Casio 197 Cfx-200 Scientific Calculator Stainless Steel Hewlett Packard Hp-41c Scientific CalculatorHewlett Packard Hp-25 Calculator With Charger And Original Case & Guide Hp 32s Ll Rpn Scientific Calculator With Leather CaseCommodore Dac-612 Model 612 Rare Vintage Calculator 1969 DesktopHp 41cx Scientific Calculator (refurbished)Hp 41cx Scientific Calculator W/leather CaseHp 11c Scientific CalculatorVintage Hewlett Packard 22 Calculator.Vintage Calculator Hewllet Packard Hp 29cVintage Commodore N-60 Navigation Calculator Works Look! Hewlett Packard Hp41cv With Hp41cv Owners Manual You Gotta Check This One OutHp 41cv Scientific Calculator With Financial 1 Module Very Good ConditionHewlett Packard Hp48gx In Very Nice Condition With User Manual, And CaseRare Early 1980's Casio Sl-800 Film Card Calculator Very Thin Near 1 OwnerEarly Curta Calculator Type Ii 2 #545777 - Mint State!!Hewlett Packard Hp 32sii Scientific Calculator Hp32s2Nice Working Hp-11c Hewlett Packard Scientific Calculator W/ Soft CaseVintage Electronics Sharp Compet El-805 First Pocket-size Lcd Calculator C1973Scientific Calculator -casio- Fx-68, Small, Working, Released In 1989, Used, Casio Cd 401 Vintage Rare Calculator MintHp-67 Calculator W/case Battery M.e. Pac1 Power Cord & MoreVintage Hewlett Packard Hp 11c Scientific Calculator Rare & Collectible It WorksHp 41c Scientific CalculatorRare Vtg Casio Ml-833 Musical Music Player Electronic CalculatorHp 41cv Vintage Scientific Calculator W/manual - Excellent Working ConditionHp 35 Vintage Scientific Calculator W/ Case + User Manual (works)Vintage Rare Olympia Nixie Tube Retro Calculator Cd-400Hp-41cv Calculator (a True "made In Usa" Version)*wow* Vintage Sinclair Cambridge Calculator Working With Original Case & LeafletHewlett Packard Hp-80 Business Calculator With Quick Reference GuideVintage Satolex "pocketman" Ball-point Pen Calculator NibHewlett Packard 48gx Graphing Calculator - Broken For Parts/repairVintage Hewlett Packard Hp 19c Programmable CalculatorCasio Mq-10 Calculator & Clock Vintage Very Rare From 70's With Box *** Mint *** Old Vintage Japanese Retro Collectors Calculator Casio Math Pet Mp100 Vintage Precise Adding Machine / Calculator 1940's Chicago Ill.Hp-il Module Hp-82160a For Vintage Hp 41 C Cv & Cx CalculatorsHewlett Packard Hp48sx In Very Nice Condition With User Manual, And CaseVinatage Hp-35 Scientific Calculator , Hewlett Packard, With Charger And CaseHewlett-packard 48sx Scientific Expandable CalculatorVintage 1980's Hewlett Packard 20s Scientific Calculator W CaseVintage Faber Castell 62/83, Slide Rule Calculator. GermanyFacit Man Doll Facitgubben Swedish Mascot Calculator Typewriter Vintage 1950-60sAddiator Addfeet Junior