Olympia CD-520

How many of a given item does it take to constitute a collection? If, for instance, having purchased a 1970s desk calculator from ebay, one then bought another; and then a third: does that count? My flimsy rationalization is that I have one downstairs, one upstairs, and a spare…

The device pictured is an Olympia CD-520, made in the USA (according to the Calcuseum) from 1974. At present it’s my upstairs calculator. It offers the standard basic arithmetic functions and practically nothing else. The user may choose between calculating to 0, 2, 3 or 4 decimal places: there is no full floating point option. It’s an early and an underpowered enough machine that harder calculations can take a significant fraction of a second to execute. Its orange ‘Panaplex’ display was my main reason for acquring this particular model.

Sometimes it’s reluctant to switch on at all, as if waking only with great difficulty from the deepest of slumbers, thanks to some elderly capacitor within approaching the end of its useful life. That third, spare calculator may yet have its chance to shine. Of course I could just use the calculator app on my phone like someone who has acknowledged the arrival of the 21st century, but where’s the fun in that?