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Tue Mar 5, 2019, 09:14 PM

'Brilliant' Man Who Was An Inventor of the Calculator Dies

Source: Bloomberg/AP

Dallas (AP) -- Jerry Merryman, one of the inventors of the handheld electronic calculator who is described by those who knew him as not only brilliant but also kind with a good sense of humor, has died. He was 86.

Merryman died Feb. 27 at a Dallas hospital from complications of heart and kidney failure, said his stepdaughter, Kim Ikovic. She said he'd been hospitalized since late December after experiencing complications during surgery to install a pacemaker.

He's one of the three men credited with inventing the handheld calculator while working at Dallas-based Texas Instruments. The team was led by Jack Kilby, who made way for today's computers with the invention of the integrated circuit and won the Nobel Prize. The prototype built by the team, which also included James Van Tassel, is at the Smithsonian Institution.

"I have a Ph.D. in material science and I've known hundreds of scientists, professors, Nobel prize-winners and so on. Jerry Merryman was the most brilliant man that I've ever met. Period. Absolutely, outstandingly brilliant," said Vernon Porter, a former TI colleague and friend. "He had an incredible memory and he had an ability to pull up formulas, information, on almost any subject."

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-05/-brilliant-man-who-was-an-inventor-of-the-calculator-dies



Wow. I saw a breaking banner earlier from my local Philly paper about this.

R.I.P.

35 replies, 1993 views

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Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply 'Brilliant' Man Who Was An Inventor of the Calculator Dies (Original post)
BumRushDaShow Mar 5 OP
still_one Mar 5 #1
cally Mar 5 #2
BumRushDaShow Mar 5 #4
cally Mar 5 #13
BumRushDaShow Mar 6 #21
KWR65 Mar 5 #6
Dave Starsky Mar 5 #7
dalton99a Mar 5 #14
Jimbo S Mar 6 #23
Dave Starsky Mar 6 #24
Jimbo S Mar 6 #32
Dave Starsky Mar 6 #33
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 6 #25
BumRushDaShow Mar 5 #8
dalton99a Mar 5 #3
No Vested Interest Mar 5 #5
JI7 Mar 5 #9
No Vested Interest Mar 5 #10
Dave Starsky Mar 6 #34
No Vested Interest Mar 6 #35
LongtimeAZDem Mar 5 #11
BumRushDaShow Mar 6 #22
Ferrets are Cool Mar 5 #12
No Vested Interest Mar 6 #19
Generic Brad Mar 6 #17
Dave Starsky Mar 6 #20
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 6 #26
3Hotdogs Mar 6 #15
yaesu Mar 6 #16
bubbazero Mar 6 #18
jcmaine72 Mar 6 #27
Maeve Mar 6 #28
ProfessorGAC Mar 6 #30
exboyfil Mar 6 #29
Yavin4 Mar 6 #31

Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 09:19 PM

1. No surprise he is from TI. There was a time when HP led pack, now it is TI and Casio, at least as

far as students are concerned



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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 09:23 PM

2. He did not invent the calculator!!

Last edited Tue Mar 5, 2019, 11:53 PM - Edit history (1)

Robert A. Ragen, working for Friden later bought by Singer, invented the calculator. He holds almost 100 patents. TI started to produce calculators and Singer reached agreement for a settlement for breaking patents.

I know because I have the original patents on my wall, have the original magazine ads, and have Scientific American article on it. The original calculator is in the Smithsonian and has been displayed.

On edit: Link to Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friden,_Inc.





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Response to cally (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 09:44 PM

4. The OP article makes this differentiation

He's one of the three men credited with inventing the handheld calculator


From what I understand, the device that Ragen had was a "desktop" model.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #4)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 11:54 PM

13. Yes but the settlement for breaking the patent was not mentioned

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Response to cally (Reply #13)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 05:18 AM

21. I expect that articles specifically from tech sites vs from AP probably have more details on that.

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Response to cally (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 09:59 PM

6. So you are a super nerd, too. I still have a Commodore Calculator and a TI one.

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Response to KWR65 (Reply #6)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 10:05 PM

7. The TI-30 was the first calculator I ever had.

It was the first calculator my family could ever afford.



If he had anything to do with that, then God bless him.

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #7)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 11:54 PM

14. That's the model that officially killed the slide rule

The official date of the death of the slide rule occurred on June 13, 1976 when Texas Instruments introduced the single chip TI-30 scientific slide rule calculator for $24.95 USD, which was below the cost of a comparable slide rule. There was no cost benefit to new students, technicians and engineers to buy a slide rule anymore, as everyone could afford the TI-30. Coincidently, barely one month later on July 11, 1976, Kueffel & Esser, the oldest and largest slide rule manufacturer in the United States, produced their last slide rule. In the next month of August, 1976, Pickett Industries followed suit, stopping all production of their slide rules.

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #7)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 11:02 AM

23. I still have mine!

A Christmas present in 1978. Sitting on my dresser right now. Replaced it in 1985 with a Casio, which is the calculator I still use. I've owned exactly two calculators in 40 years.

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Response to Jimbo S (Reply #23)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 11:08 AM

24. Mine came with this groovy math book.



Seriously, it was one of the most fun math books I've ever read.

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #24)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 05:38 PM

32. Yes! I received that book as well

and may still have it.

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Response to Jimbo S (Reply #23)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 06:44 PM

33. Your Casio doesn't happen to be this gem, is it?

http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1363553

That was my very next calculator after getting the TI-30. It had stats on it.

I LOVED that thing and used it up until just a few years ago, when it was stolen in a car break-in. I never once ever changed the battery. I still weep when I remember my 506S.

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #7)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 11:29 AM

25. (Raises hand) Yeah, I had one of those. I think it was my second calculator.

I had one I used in summer school in 1976, but it was a TI with a vacuum fluorescent display.

I can look it up at the online calculator museum.

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Response to KWR65 (Reply #6)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 10:07 PM

8. I think I still have my TI-55 from college

(required for some of my classes freshman year 1979 )

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 09:29 PM

3. Jerry Merryman: the man who killed the slide rule

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 09:59 PM

5. I'm old enough to remember when the hand-held calculator was new and expensive.

I don't remember the dates - likely sometime in the seventies- when the hand-held calculator's cost was several $100s and was considered state-of-the-art technology.

I'm liberal arts type, but my spouse was an engineer and involved at the beginning of this technology, so I recall his friends proudly displaying their latest work-piece.

It's really something to comprehend how far technology has come in such a relatively short time period.

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 10:10 PM

9. do you mean graphing ones or even just the basic ones also ?

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Response to JI7 (Reply #9)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 10:15 PM

10. IIRC, they were very basic, and not very small either.

Remember, I was more of an on-looker.
Calculators were not my thing.
We still have hubby's slide rule, though, which I also know nothing about how it works, or how one uses it.

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #10)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 07:40 PM

34. Handheld calculators exploded in the late 70s / early 80s.

Up until about 1975, you really had to have a good reason to shell out the price of a few family dinners to purchase an object that could only add, subtract, multiply, and divide two numbers and then store that result in memory.

The processors that drove those calculators very rapidly got a lot cheaper and more powerful. Suddenly, you had a handheld calculator that could not only implement trigonometric functions and logarithms, but it was actually affordable! In the span of just a couple of years.

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #34)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 07:43 PM

35. That's as I remember it, also.

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Response to JI7 (Reply #9)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 11:02 PM

11. A four-function TI Datamath 2500 was $120 in 1973; that would be about $730 in today's dollars

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Response to LongtimeAZDem (Reply #11)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 05:36 AM

22. My dad was a Computer Programmer (COBOL) for the VA

from '50s to the early '70s (when it was still called the "Veteran's Administration" ) and I think we actually had that (or equivalent) model. It plugged in. I know we had something before I got my TI-55.

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 5, 2019, 11:45 PM

12. Yeah, I remember paying $79 for a fairly basic model. nt

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Response to Ferrets are Cool (Reply #12)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 03:45 AM

19. The prices dropped fairly quickly, within a few years, as they quickly became mass produced.

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #5)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 12:09 AM

17. I'm young enough to remember using it to spell

60065.

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Response to Generic Brad (Reply #17)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 05:18 AM

20. 1,329,502 x 4 turned upside down.

Those were good times.

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #5)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 11:39 AM

26. The first time I saw a handheld calculator was when I was in A-school in Memphis in

the fall of 1972.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 12:00 AM

15. I paid $300 + for a hand held... I believe it was sometime around 1975.

It ran on a 9 volt.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 12:06 AM

16. I think I paid $75 for my first calc around '76

It was a TI, led display, still had it with its case & charger up until a few years ago when I lent it out for a school project never to be seen again

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 02:59 AM

18. old calculators

Neighbors had a sod farm--needed calculator for sq footage--lawns, commercial etc 1971 8 digit only add subtract MULTIPLY DIVIDE for $320.00 dollars Zeros showed on display as lower half of an eight 8 Grandfather had electric mechanical calculator from early 1950's Worked as superintendent of gas dept for local utilities used in figuring cu ft for billing storage processing etc Massive machine 12 rows of keys with 12 keys per row just for the numbers that's right kids 144 keys just to enter numbers- dials on both sides for functions. Would add subtract multiply and divide Fascinating to watch him use it-- used it until he retired early 70's 12 spinning dials encased in glass at top of each row for display. The entire key board moved on carriage as it worked back and forth to align with mechanical functions underneath fully electronic would trip breakers like a hand held blow dryer tho unit given to me to keep which I have in safe long term storage. Will donate to muesuem when generation in front of me is completely gone. I got unit because only one dumb enough to move it. Complete unit is a MASSIVE 68 POUNDS

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 11:57 AM

27. My first calculator



It was one of my most prized possessions back in the days before the internet, streaming, 4k, VR, or even cable TV.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 11:57 AM

28. Before the fully functional one at TI, there was Bowmar and the Bowmar Brain

Four functions, eight digits--$200 (1971) Yep, all it did was add, subtract, multiply and divide. Hubby had one.

When prices started dropping, so did Bowmar and they filed for bankruptcy.

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Response to Maeve (Reply #28)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 03:43 PM

30. My Dad Won One Of Those

Some sort of raffle where odds were based on how one spent at Goldblatt's department store.
It didn't have LEDs. It used GCDs and ran on a 9V battery.
Heavy, but still handheld.
We were mighty impressed. My mom loved it over the old, used adding machine she used when paying bills.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 12:13 PM

29. Between 7th and 8th

grade my dad taught me the slide rule (this would have been the summer of 1976.

Toward the end of the year in 8th grade math, my math teacher brought six or so calculators into the class. She did an exercise where we punched and she calculated on the board. She was able to beat us in two and maybe three digit multiplication.

I think my first calculator was a LCD display Casio sold by Radio Shack in 10th grade. I never owned one of the TI30s.

I also got a Radio Shack programmable calculator before I started college in 1981 from my grandpa. Still have that one but have not used it in years. My mentor in my current job used his until he retired a few years ago. His was the Casio(Sharp) branded version.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2019, 03:44 PM

31. My old man had one of the original TI calculators.

The digits would flash green before finishing the arithmetic.

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