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The giant calculator joke July 30, 2007

Posted by dorigo in computers, games, humor, mathematics, personal, travel.

Today I was back in my office and found a way to have a laugh with Devis, a colleague who recently spent a few days in the US.

Devis had been harassed before the trip by another colleague, Andrea, who wanted to save a hundred bucks on a multi-function pocket calculator. This is commonplace for italians traveling to the States: there always is a relative or a friend who knows electronics are cheaper overseas, and who will force you to spend endless afternoons in shopping malls in search for the requested item – and at times, to conceal said item while passing customs in order to save import taxes. And with the very advantageous exchange rate of dollars per euro these days, these sorts of requests have only gotten worse.

Devis had agreed to look for the pocket calculator (some fancy Hewlett-Packard model, apparently quite expensive), but once in the Chicago area, he had been unable to find it. So he stopped at a Wal-Mart, and had a brilliant, brilliant idea. Here is what he brought back:

At 10″ by 6″, the thing is mastodontic – indeed, it can be attached to a wall (there is even a suitable hook on the back). We laughed when we guessed the face Andrea will put up when presented with the “pocket” calculator. But then we had an idea for an even more fun joke.

The calculator has a silvery finish, and if one walks by keeping it sideways as a book, with its back showing, everybody will think it is a fancy, extra-slim laptop computer. So we already decided that at the next seminar or conference I have the occasion to follow, I will arrive late bringing the calculator with me, and walk confidently to the front row making sure everybody notices me. I will then sit down, carefully place the calculator in front of me, and meaningfully start poking on the giant rubbery keys, one finger per hand, with a concentrated look.

I bet you want to do it yourself. You have my permission. Get yours here, but don’t forget to report on the laughs.


1. Alejandro Rivero - July 30, 2007

About old HP calculators, the company allows the distribution of the ROM of abandoned models as freeware, and this includes the HP48. So an alternative is a linux PDA with the x48 emulator.

Also there is a clone (not emulator) of a HP15 or HP11 or similar, I have seen it available for the Nokia 770. Actually the Nokia 800 and 770 are good alternatives if you need to run gnuplot in your pocket, but I am afraid you must compile it yourself.

2. dorigo - July 30, 2007

Hah! I am not such a junk addict 🙂 Although you remind me of a nice
presentation I heard at Moriond QCD 2005, when the speaker (Stefan Kluth, MPI)discussed some analysis of old data from JADE. He made the point that what was a very complex computing task at the time the data were taken, was now at reach of the chip of any one cell phone.

Click to access Kluth.pdf


3. Raymond Lee Quijano - July 31, 2007

I’m not really fond of calculators but I think this is a good gadget for accountants in our office. ^_^

4. abarclay12 - July 31, 2007

I love giant calculators. Your pal should be pleased.

5. D R Lunsford - July 31, 2007

On this scale my TI-92+ would be about 2’x3′! Of course with my old eyes, that might be good..


6. alpinekat - July 31, 2007

I sincerely hope that you carry out your seminar/conference plan.

7. Louise - July 31, 2007

Funny! I saw these while in the US East Coast, where Walgreen’s stores are ubiquitous. On a serious note, I hope we never forget how to figure things out in our head.

8. changcho - July 31, 2007

The S.U.V. of calculators – how appropriate that is was bought in a Wal-Mart store.

9. dorigo - July 31, 2007

Hi all,

Raymond, do buy a bunch of those for your accountants – they only cost 10 bucks each.

ABarclay, Andrea laughed but apparently wasn’t too pleased of being left with no fancy HP calculator…

DRL, 2’x3′ would make a perfect wall model. With soft keys one could use it by banging one’s head against it…

Alpinekat, I think I will, my sense of humor has brought me to do worse things in the past…

Louise, I agree – I have a pocket calculator on my desk, but when I have to make some complex calculation I look at it with a challenging smile and carry on the computation in my head. This model is almost new, but the previous one had a battery which lasted 18 years.

Changcho, yes, maybe it is no accident it is sold there.

Cheers all,

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