Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Innovation and Destiny

Above links are to sites that discuss the worlds first pocket calculator. The Curta is a hand held mechanical calculator developed in Buchenwald concentration camp by an inmate, Curt Herzstark. It hit the market in 1953, and was just the thing for road rally calculations.

"The Curta is basically a cylinder with a handcrank on the end. It has an amusing resemblance to a pepper mill. The mechanism that does the job of the carriage in desktop machines is like a large knob, on the crank end of the cylinder. The dials are tiny cylinders (thick disks) on shafts with their axes extending radially from the center. You shift the "knob carriage" (let's call it a "display") by pulling it against spring tension away from the main body of the machine and rotating it to its new position, then gently letting go."

Just for comparison, the entire nation of Pakistan has, in its 42 years of existence, obtained 8 patents.


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