Saturday, April 18, 2020

Elsi Mate EL-8048 Soro-cal

So I am sure that you always wondered if there was a calculator that combined both a calculator and a Japanese abacus called a soroban? Well, wonder no more because that object definitely exists.


It's a strange chimera, but this calculator was made for a short time and exclusively for the Japanese market from the late 1970s to early 1980s. The legend states that some Japanese calculator users would check answers from digital calculators on a soroban.


Multiplication on a soroban can be difficult and a calculator might be a nice addition.


This particular model, the Elsi Mate EL-8048, was released in January of 1979. There were just four models in the total line; EL-8148 (19 beads), the EL-808, the EL-428, and the EL-429 (solar). The EL-8048 is my favorite because of the pencil-holder.


The calculator part is not particularly accurate.  It fails a one-divide-by-nine-multiply-by-nine test with an answer of 0.9999999. An accurate calculator would return a one. The soroban part is incredibly accurate.


This example is in good shape. The bottom is a little scratched.


Is that serial number right? 147? Also is this an abacus with a calculator or a calculator with an abacus. Sharp is drawing a line in the sand with this information badge.

This is the type of object that I love. It comes from a strange liminal time when one way of thinking was trying to exist with another way of thinking. Isn't it a charming thing?

14 comments:

  1. Very interesting and beautiful machine. Modern technology and ancient technology. Perhaps planned for when the modern dies, the old will will still be working.

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  2. Joe Van Cleave will love this :D

    Still thinking of a retro computer meet (after this craziness, of course)?

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  3. I’ll bring my entire abacus collection along with the Burroughs Comptometer.

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