Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gadgetry.



Maybe it was caused by reading Gibson's Pattern Recognition, but I've had a hankering for a Curta mechanical calculator for the last couple years. I don't need one. I have no use for one. I certainly can't afford one. But these little gizmos trigger the wantsies in me like nobody's business. Like a Leica M3 or a pre-war Smith, they have an intricate mechanical rightness about them, like a little box of elves turning precision-machined gears...

18 comments:

Desertrat said...

If you didn't have a Curta, way back in the Dark Ages before electronic computers, you just weren't a serious sporty car rallyist.

They were a necessity for one's MG-TD, along with the gloves, the cap and the nitrogen-filled tyres.

I did okay with my K&E Log Log Duplex Decitrig slide rule, though. Lay the windshield down on my 1956 Austin-Healey LeMans, don the goggles, and Be Cool. :-)

Art

2yellowdogs said...

Mmmmm...the M3 is the single most sublime image making device (both aesthetically and operationally) ever created.

http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/leica/m/mpix/m3.jpg

The quality with which they were designed and made has been a thing of wonder and an object of lust for almost 60 years now. As Ferris Maximus decreed, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

Jenny said...

Wow.. the odd thing to think on is that it's newer than your 1911 or Smith...

Nick Pacific said...

I've been looking for a curta for a few years now. My excuse was it would circumvent "no electronic devices during tests" rules, and my slide rule sheath was cumbersome in the desk/chair (not to mention looked strange in the 21st century). Really, though, I just have a fascination for mechanical computers.

The going price for a curta is devastating to my wallet and heart. I've never been able to find a replica even though I've been told they exist.

Thanks for reminding me of everything I never had. I will be fantasizing about a curta for a week now and be insufferable at the dinner table.

D.W. Drang said...

When I was growing up we had some variation of the Addiator...

Mechanical Calculators at the Vintage Calculators Web Museum.

staghounds said...

The "math grenade"!

Keads said...

Very elegant design! I like!

zeeke42 said...

Thanks a ton, now I want one. I'm thinking about framing that poster in my house somewhere.

reflectoscope said...

Staghounds got what came to mind first, but my second thought was that one of those is a pretty good excuse to stand up that machine shop I've been considering.

Jim

GuardDuck said...

Had to wiki the Curta, loved this quote:

One chagrined owner, on showing up to the dealer to retrieve his $600 Curta, now reassembled for an additional $300, was told, "don't feel bad. Curtas really cost $900. Everyone takes them apart."

Sigivald said...

Kinda surprises me that nobody's making copies. Say, in Russia.

staghounds said...

They ebay for a thousand or so. I can't imagine that it would pay to make and distribute them for a competitive price.

Tam said...

I dunno, it seems like something whose manufacturing costs could be cut massively using modern materials and CNC manufacturing.

Unlike, say, the internals of a 1911, I don't see that MIM would be inappropriate for replica Curta guts...

The Jack said...

There really is a wonderful elegance to those machines.

It really shows how all math is just addition and subtraction.

That and it goes clickety-clack!

reflectoscope said...

On a production scale MIM would probably do alright - the question is, does anyone have the drawings around, and second what would dies et al cost for these parts?

Jim

Cybrludite said...

Arrrrg!Another gadget for the "when I win the lottery" list. To make matters worse, I hopped on eBay to see what they cost, then decided to check out what they had in the way of sliderules. Ended up re-opening an account with them to bid on a few. It's like dangling a bag of Ketamine & MDMA in front of a raver, I tell you!

docjim505 said...

I share the "I want one!" sentiment.

What is it with old technology??? Is it nostalgia? Some form of "the green was greener"? Curiosity?

In a similar vein, I had some urge to get a sextant and copy of Bowditch after reading some Aubrey / Maturin novels. Why? If I want to know where I am, GPS is much faster and accurate. Yet, I have a hankering to learn to do it "the old fashioned way".

red said...

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red