Ten Key Calculator History

The Long and Short (Mostly Short) Of It

Canon lays claim to the title of inventor of the electronic ten-key calculator, labeling themselves as the first to produce a working prototype of a calculator with fully electronic circuits and a luminous display in July of 1963. Even so, Sharp beat them to market with their own version of the electronic 10-key calculator made for a desktop.

Up until the 1960's, the most common calculators were electro-mechanical. These calculators were cumbersome and not made for the speedy numerical calculations we're used to today with our fancy new-age models.

If you want to see some lovely detailed pictures of the mechanical ten-key models, John Wolff's Web Museum has a nice page about full-function ten-key calculators. (Sorry, but the link quit working, which is regrettable, because there were some really cool pictures there.)

Ten keys were often called adding machines because of the way they worked. Even today, a lot of people still call a ten key calculator a ten key adding machine.

Favorite Printing Calculator

Recommended Printing Ten Key Calculator

The SHARP EL-1801PIII is actually sitting on my desk at this very moment. I haven't used a better printing calculator. In fact, I have two of these babies (if you drop the little III at the end). One at the office (1801P) and one in my home office (1801PIII).


Read a short history of adding machines at Wikipedia®

A ten-key calculator is better

...when you need to add or subtract long columns of numbers

...for doing your checkbook

...if you want to add or subtract sales tax from something

...on Fridays

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