Friday, August 27, 2004

Do Dead Calculators Go To Silicon Heaven?

Alas, it is with deep regret that I announce that my calculator has died. Really, I'm serious. This calculator had great sentimental value to me. I bought it back in the dim and distant year of 1987 (when scientific calculators were still nifty new things) for a high school physics class. It saw me through two years of high school physics, five years of college, an astrophysics degree, and ten years of post-college household use. It accompanied me absolutely everywhere, balancing my checkbook, figuring my gas mileage, and devotedly calculating whatever needed to be calculated. Sure, in its last years, it was growing increasingly feeble. The solar panel tended not to work unless held directly to the light. The display was beginning to fade. The case, cracked in several places, was eventually held together almost entirely by duct tape. But it soldiered gamely on regardless... until today. Today, I pulled it out to calculate how many tapes I'd need to record all of Farscape season 3 with no commercials (answer: 3, on long-play), and discovered that the poor thing had become unable to calculate in anything but binary. Sadly, as strong as my desire is to cling to the faithful old machine, I really don't think converting everything to binary before I can work with it is really very practical. Sniff.

Goodbye, noble Radio Shack EC-4014. You were a prince among inexpensive hand-held computing devices from the 80's. You will be missed.

So, uh, anybody know anything about what's good to look for in a scientific calculator these days, if you don't actually plan to do any science?

42 comments:

  1. I hope you do read this blog of yours. I just came across your blog when I was looking for my calculator manual -- same as yours.

    This was given to me by my grandpa!!! Pretty nifty stuff.

    Anyway this Radio Shack Calculator was built by Casio -- model is called fx -115m

    See the pic yourself.

    http://www.aroyebay.com/ebaypics/072030/lg_pic1.jpg

    I am hoping that you have saved your calculator's manual, if you did, can you kindly post it one the internet, page by page.

    I know it's ask you a lot, but it will good for rest of the users, and nice way to remember your calculator.

    As for buying a new calculator, asuming you have not bought it. Try casio model -- you have been using one before.

    I have bought a casio calculator about two or three years ago called "FX-991MS". Just like ED4014 it is dual solar, battery power, and two line display. Very good very anything to calculate, and very sold.

    Also there are some graph calculator one sale -- price? $25!!!! I have just bought one, and testing it, however, I'll never use it on a math test -- too risky for my taste. Althought they do calculate very well, and are using very advance chinese processer.

    PS: to turn off Radio Shack EC-4014 calculator; press AC / and * (or +) at the same time, and it will turn itself off. :) kinda cool if you ask me.

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  2. Interesting... it's November 14th, 2008 and my trusty Radio Shack EC-4014 is still working just fine.

    I did notice mine is a little bit different than the average... mine is only solar powered (no battery). Also my solar cell will still operate on ambient light in my office. I've been using this thing since I was doing assembly code on super-mini computers in the 80's and it's still going strong today.

    It's good to know that some things just keep right on working.

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  3. I have the similar Radio Shack EC-4024, still working fine too. Haven't used it in a while, but I'm resurrecting it with a new battery. Also has solar power, 23 "pre-programmed" formulas, and statistical functions. Casio definitely knew how to build these things. I'm sure I have the manual somewhere.

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  4. How about this. It's februari 1 2009 and mine (Tandy EC-4014) is still working fine although the described trick to turn the power off doesn't work for me (just blocking the light works exactly the same). I never changed the battery since there was no need for that because of the great solar cell that doesn't need a lot of light at all. A funny thing I noticed, is that when you only have that solar cell available, the machine sets itself to another state after turning it off (or actually when you turn it on the next time I suppose). When I turn it on again it is in a different mode (HEX mode for example) and I have to reset it the normal way.
    Something else I noticed is that another calculator (Casio fx-81) appears to have the same chipset inside since it has (almost) the same functions after a little trick (an unpublished key combination I found out).
    Since another blogger (Steve D.)probably send you already the manual, I will not do so although it is probably laying around somewhere at my place.

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    1. great post, I have a EC-4024 I bought new, same battery works great

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  5. author: you will be glad to know your blog comes up first when doing a search on "EC-4014"!

    I just got mine out of the drawer to do some extremely simple addition. I spent more time trying to figure out putting it in the various 'modes' than doing my work.

    I also got this in high school in the late 80's, and it saw me through engineering school. I guess Radio Shack was good for something!

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  6. I'm amused that this post is still getting hits and a surprising number of people who feel moved to comment, five years after I posted it.

    Apparently people feel strongly about their calculators. :)

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  7. My Radio Shack EC-4014 battery just died (lasted for 20 years). The calculator still seems to work ok with just the solar cell. I plan to replace the battery and continue using this calculator. Note that the turn off trick previously mentioned does not work for my unit.

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  8. I got my Radio Shack EC-4014 from my dad and now I want to give it to my daughter (so there planned obsolescence), but I can't find the manual. Any hints as to where to get one?

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    1. Thanks, I need one too! Hope someone can help!

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  9. I have the EC-4024 that still works after 18 years. Probably because it lay in a drawer all that time. Any $2.00 caalculator would do the work I need, but I really like the look and feel of this one. I wish I knew the math to really put it to use.

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  10. Still have mine. It is missing the right parentheses button, which I think one of my kids pulled off. The membrane under the key pad under it was mushed in and making constant contact, so it wasn't working. I haven't used it since this happened, although it was my main calculator for years. Yesterday, my son lost his TI calculator and needed one for school, so I got out the old EC-4014, opened it up, took out the membrane and cut out the mushed in part. Put it back together and it works fine. I can still use the right parentheses by inserting something conductive to make contact between the edge of the cut-out part of the membrane and the contact below.

    By the time I got it working, my son had already left for school, and after school he bought another TI, and I'm glad because he would probably lose mine.


    I'm really happy to have it working again. It's been a faithful companion for years. I still have the vinyl case, but have lost the manual. The battery is long gone, but it works fine on solar.

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  11. mike4ro@hotmail.comMarch 09, 2010 4:04 PM

    Wow, great post....my 84-year-old great uncle just asked me to get the "HEX" function cleared so he can use this calculator again. Does anybody know how to do that?

    And the "off" trick doesn't work on this Radio Shack EC-4014 either!
    Thanks, Mike

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  12. I need a manual for the radio shack ec-4014. It was my dad's before he died and now I use it in my accounting class. Anyone have the manual?

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  13. If anyone can help, since I don't have the manual for my EC-4014, how do you use the nPr button? I would really appreciate the help.

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  14. It's 5/20/2010 and I just replaced the battery, after 25 years! Used it in my early engineering days at Lockheed (replaced by an HP 15C) But still going strong. To ideaholic, simply replace the battery. Note: do not use Lithium 3V, e.g. GR927. Make sure it is Silver Oxide 1.5V! Substitutes include Energizer 395, generic 399, SR927SW/W or TR927W.

    To mike4ro@hotmail to clear the HEX function, hit Mode 9 (Normal).

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    1. And this is why ancient discussion threads should remain searchable. I used my calculator all the way from junior high to to college graduation, and still have use for it. At some point in the past I removed the battery and didn't record the type. So a huge thank you! I went to Walgreen's tonight and they really did have an Energizer 395 for me. Score! And it works just as well today as it ever did. (I shattered the solar panel about a year after I bought it, probably 1988, so the battery is necessary.) Thank you, thank you.

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  15. Correction: To mike4ro@hotmail to clear the HEX function, hit Mode 0 (Decimal).

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  16. I am trying to obtain a manual for the ec-4024, anyone have any suggestions. It doesn't seem to be in any of my standard searches on the web

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  17. I also have a 4024 and would love to read the manual but more importantly the pre programmed formula card is missing and i remeber there were a few very useful ones. if anyone has that list i could copy down or DL it would be great.
    thanks

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  18. ....I have a radioshack ec-4014 dual power. Think the battery was done years ago, but solar still works in pretty much any light. btw: on mine to shut it down, the key combination I press is: hold down all 3 of "ac" "x" "divide" then release "ac" first, followed by the others - may have to try it a few times. ...also, I peeled the back sticker off many years ago - it says casio underneath the sticker.

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  19. Just had a conversation about calculators with a coworker. He'd found his old TI-30 in the attic and was waxing nostalgic about it. We joked about selling it on eBay only to find it sells for $0.99 plus shipping. So I showed him my EC-4014, and for fun, Googled it and found this blog entry. The AC/x/÷ combo works for mine. I found that to be very cool! I still use this calculator which my dad bought me for high school in the late 80s. Despite a few dog-teeth wounds on the top, it is in great condition and has served me well. I've got the vinyl case and instruction manual, too! I think there are very few "things" in my life which I have had longer than this calculator, except maybe a few comic books, grade school report cards and old scrapbooks. But this is definitely the oldest thing in my life that I still use!

    On a general blog-note, I'm a fan of sci-fi so I'll enjoy looking through your blog. Cheers!

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  20. I love how much love this old calculator keeps getting here. :)

    (Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog! I'm afraid it hasn't been all that interesting lately...)

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  21. seniorwopo - I have the magic spell..I mean formula card for the EC-4024. I'll scan it and send it to you if you list an email address. To be honest, I also have the much-coveted manual for this thing (don't ask me how or why I managed to save that), but it has many pages, and would require many scans and large PDF files. If I'm feeling ambitious with a WHOLE LOT of time on my hands one of these days I may just do it for fun! ;)

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  22. Over the years I have met many other folks who are as dependent as I am on this calculator. I stumbled on this site while looking for a source for a spare in case my ec-4014 fails. The best match I've found is the Casio fx-260. I just ordered four through Amazon. There are slight differences (M in & MR are now on the same key rather than next to each other) but overall this looks to be the same indispensable item.

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  23. I've had my Radio Shack EC-4014 for over 30 years now. Use it almost every day at work. There's no battery in mine. It's just solar powered. Never been turned off.

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  24. I have a working R/S EC-4024 calculator with the Built-in
    formula list, manual, cover, box, and a new battery.

    About to use it for finance and statistics exams.

    ec4024@twyoung.com

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  25. Tandy EC-4014 - 26 years today. Battery still ok. I use it every single day and I would not switch for anything else (if I can!)...

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  26. Getting ready to give my EC-4014 to my child. Never turned off. Stolen once in Central Africa, and recovered. Would love to have a manual for it.

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  27. This is so funny. I'm writing an email to my co-workers on my ec-4014 turning 26 years old and still working! It's half my age, used it through-out my programming career, and still keeps on with it's solar panel. Sigh. It's older than some people I work with and it's 10 years younger than 'Frampton Comes Alive'

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  28. Just to join the others - I still use my 4014 bought in Nashville in 1986 as an exchange student. I now use it for my MBA at a university in Norway. I love it!

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  29. I just have to comment as well. Bought mine in 1986 for high school and it has been going strong since. I was just about to pay some bills, pulled it out of the leather-ish case it came with and noticed that the plastic at the bottom of the back is just starting to crack a little. On a whim, I googled the part number in case I someday need to replace it and found this blog. Tough to move on once you find something of unexpected quality :)

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  30. Mine is a Tandy EC-4014 solar powered calculator. Bought sometime in the mid-80s. Cleaning up the office, found it, still working. Googled the part number out of interest and found this blog. See something from the 80's was good.

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  31. I too bought my EC-4014 in the mid-80s as a young engineer, and it is still my main calculator for work. Its 30 year anniversary coming up sometime soon. Battery gave up the ghost a long time ago, but solar cell is still going strong. I'm afraid to take it apart to replace the battery. It has picked up a few quirks like changing modes when first turned on. Seems to favor octal numbers and gradian angles. A few adjustments with the MODE button and it's ready to go! I was amazed to see so many entries for this old calculator model.

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    1. After I replied in 2011 to this blog post I marked it to receive all replies for kicks. I get a chuckle every time another story comes through. Mine still works and has the same octal/gradients mode and too many significant digits (0s after decimal) problem. But a quick Mode 4 (for degrees) and Mode 9 (for normal) and it goes to normal. : )

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    2. The life that this one particular blog post has continued to have -- for, ye gods, 11 years now! -- amuses me greatly, too. It's nice to know my good 'ol calculator is still remembered, and that it has siblings still out there in the world doing their calculatin' thing. :)

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  32. Does anyone have an instruction book for a Radio Shack EC-2004? I bought it in the early summer of 1982 at a Radio Shack in Asheville, NC, for $39.95 + tax. At the time, it was a new for '82 model. It's still going strong and works as well as it did when I first got it! I use it daily. But I've long since lost the instruction booklet. For those unfamiliar with this, it's a desktop model with 12 digits and two memories. Uses two AA batteries, or an AC adaptor, which I've never needed since the batteries last forever it seems.

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  33. HaHa, this thread is too funny. I was just commenting today how my trusty Radio Shack EC-4014 is still kicking. And decided to search Google to see if there were any others out there.
    Purchased in the Fall of 1983 as I was beginning college. I use it daily after all these years.
    Still keep it in the the original "faux" leather/nylon case. :)

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  34. I pulled my EC-4014 out today for some end of year work calculations. My dad bought it in 1983 or 1984 for me as a high school freshman. Battery not working & mode quirks as mentioned above but still going with original case & manual.

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  35. Can someone please scan and upload the manual? I could really use it. It's my first time using one of these for school, and I'd like to know how it all works.

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  36. 36 years after buying my Radio Shack EC-4014, it resurfaced on my kitchen counter, Leatherette case and all. Works like time has stood still. I guess I should put it in my bug-out kit for when electricity is no longer available and I need to solve complex math. :-)

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  37. I just found my Tandy EC-4014 and it is still going strong after 38 years. I just noticed it has logic function keys (in green) just can't figure out how to access them, I guess a manual would explain the procedure. Any body have a .pdf of the manual?

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