Calculator Simulations

Here are simulations of desktop calculators from the late 1960s. These simulations show how the calculators operate internally, from handling numeral entries to the details of the multiplication and division algorithms.

These simulations were created after completing level 2 (logic schematic) reverse engineerings of the calculators to assist in moving to level 3. (For an explanation of the levels see the comments on reverse engineering.) The first one, for the Facit 1123, started out as an assistance to repairing the unit.

Calculator Simulation Simulation Type
Facit 1123 Run Logic
Toshiba BC-1212 Run Algorithmic
Sharp Compet 17 Run Logic
Monroe 925 Run Logic
Casio AL-1000 Run Logic
Casio 121-B Run Logic

Requirement: The simulations are ShockWave programs and require the MacroMedia ShockWave plug-in for your browser.

Suggestion: Running a simulation opens a new window in your browser. When finished with the simulation, close the window to return here. The simulations require a lot of screen real estate, you may be able to improve the display by minimizing browser tool bars and such. In Netscape, click on the dotted bars at the left of the tool bars.

Suggestion: The BC-1212 simulation is faster and the algorithms easier to comprehend than the others.

About the Calculators

These calculators are representative of electronic calculators sold to the business and accounting communities in the late 1960's.

Calculators of this time (just before the advent of microprocessors) and market were typically fully serial machines (one-bit wide arithmetic unit and data paths), processing numbers in BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) or 1242 format, controlled by a hard-wired state machine.

The bit-at-a-time serial design harkens back to some of the first digital electronic computers of the late 1940s and early 1950s, such as the SSEM, but implemented in the new solid-state integrated circuit technology of the 1960s. Bit-serial processing minimizes the amount of hardware needed and consequently the cost and complexity, at the expense of speed. For the first computers the reduced speed was undesirable, for manually-operated calculators it was irrelevant.

About the Simulations

Two approaches were taken to producing these simulations:

Simulations at these levels mean the flaws and anomalies of the originals are also present in the simulations.

One of the fun parts of producing the simulations is adding the optional features which were left out of the original unit. For example, in the 1123 the simulation is based on there is actually no user memory or 5/4 rounding switch. Inside the unit the locations for the extra keys and ICs can be discerned. After the reverse engineering it was simple to add these features to the simulation.

  Calculators | Integrated Circuits | Displays | Simulations
Aug 2000