dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #929

Margaret Ball margaret at onr.com
Sun Dec 19 11:32:57 EST 2004

Otter wrote

> Oh, my goodness.  How times change.
> Now when _I_ was in school -- even when I was at university -- there
> was no such thing as a personal computer.  We didn't even have
> hand-held calculators, if you can imagine; we used slide rules. 

Maybe that, rather than chronological age, should be the distinguishing 
mark of a Crone: can you recognize a slide rule?

I would have been at university roughly the same time as you, I suppose, 
and there was A Computer. It lived in an air-conditioned room of its own 
and it was slightly neurotic because one summer somebody turned off the 
airconditioning for about twelve hours and things melted and it was 
never the same after that, but it was the only one on campus and part of 
what drew me to the math/engineering side rather than liberal arts in my 
free time. English and German majors were cuter, but engineering 
students had access to the best toys <g>

The first handheld calculator I ever met cost roughly $700 (probably 
equivalent to $1400 today!), and it was made by HP, and it used Reverse 
Polish notation. Anybody remember Reverse Polish?

Margaret Ball

Mathematicians are like Frenchmen; whatever you say to them they translate into their own language and forthwith it is something entirely different.


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