Programmers Calculator (made on a knee)

Photo by Taiki Ishikawa / Unsplash

Well, I must confess: I love programmable calculators, although I have no such machine. I was too young and those things were so expensive here, in the former Eastern Bloc.

But some people had them, primarily the well-known TI machines, like TI-57, TI-58, etc. I read a lot of articles with great titles, like the "Lunar landing for a TI-57", I have dreamed about being Neil Armstrong with a pocket calculator, but there were a lot of SBR, STO, RCL, and GTOs in those listings...

You know it: The majority of all retro feelings is the strange smell of those old times, spent in a basement, reading magazines about computers and calculators... I feel that scent when I close my eyes and remember...

The same scent has, at least for me, the SB116 programmers calculator. I know, it's not "programmable", but still it is a very nice retro thing. Based on an Arduino Nano and modern OLED display, it still has a great retro feeling.

Simon Boak, the author of SB116, wrote:

The SB116 uses a Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) style of operation with 3 registers X, Y, and Z. The top of the display shows the current number base (binary, octal, decimal or hexadecimal) and also the state of the internal status register following an operation (whether the result has carried, is zero, has overflowed, or is negative). It supports the usual calculator functions of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, but also has more practical logical operations for AND, NOT, OR, XOR, and shift left or right.
The “16” in “SB116” name represents the 16-bit Integer data type used for the registers. This means it can only work with values in the range -32,768 to 32,767 and with no decimal point. I built this for 8-bit programming projects so there is no need for bigger numbers or decimals.

A few years ago I published a challenge: "Make your own calculator with a retro feeling". I've made a prototype, named Calcuino One, but maybe this is the right time to make the next step. So my internal challenge is a programmable calculator!

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Martin Maly

Martin Maly

Programmer, journalist, writer and electronic hobbyist. Vintage CPU lover. Creating new computers with the spirit of 80's.