Desktops and Notebooks: How the HP-35 Calculator Killed the Slide Rule and Made an IT Giant

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-04-17 Print this article Print
How the HP-35 Calculator Killed the Slide Rule and Made an IT Giant

How the HP-35 Calculator Killed the Slide Rule and Made an IT Giant

by Chris Preimesberger
In the early 1970s, the slide rule was standard equipment for students, engineers and scientists. The personal computer was still a twinkle in the eyes of the visionaries. Then, in 1972, Hewlett-Packard introduced the world's first scientific pocket calculator—the HP-35—and delivered portable "computing power" into the hands of users. An instant hit among scientists and engineers, the HP-35 soon displaced slide rules and marked the birthplace of HP's innovative and highly successful heritage in the handheld calculator market. On the next several pages are some of the major innovations in the portable calculator world that were contributed by HP. It all started on a direct request from William Hewlett himself, with the only qualification being that "it fits in my shirt pocket." Dave Cochran, the original HP-35 product manager, said on April 14 that he sometimes wanted to tell Mr. Hewlett's tailor "to enlarge his pockets and not tell him."
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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