Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How many???




Blogspot tells me that as soon as I hit the "publish" button, this will become post #2500. It has been just over six months since #2000. This all seems astonishing. Nobody could really still be reading, could they? Hello? Is this thing on? Testing, one, two, three? Why would anybody sit through 2500 installments of what I have to say about anything? Are you all masochists or something?

Well, whatever the explanation, I'm grateful for your eyeballs running over my pages. I hope you get half of the satisfaction from reading that I do from writing.


What's that calculator picture doing up there, you ask? When I did a search for some amusing image to illustrate the number "2500," Google offered up that one. It's a photo of an old Texas Instruments model TI-2500. You can read about it here, the page from which I snuck this picture.

I picked it because the photo caused me a little whirlwind of nostalgia. You see, that right there was my first calculator, back in the dark ages. I bought it used from my big brother, who was moving on to a scientific calculator, as he was in high school then. I paid him about $100 for it. He had paid about $150 for it new roughly a year earlier. It was 1974, and I was 13. It was one of the first things I bought for myself with my paper route money. (I've never told you I had a paper route? Well, I did.) That, and an Encyclopedia Britannica, as I was increasingly dissatisfied with the old World Book encyclopedia my family had. 13-year-old kid gets a little cash, buys an encyclopedia and a calculator. Was I geeky, or what?

(Wow--I see now that they still publish the Encyclopedia Britannica. See here. I would have thought that nobody would be buying them, and they would have gone the way of the dinosaur by now. Guess not--but how long can they keep it up profitably?)

This calculator had a weird property, obviously not intended by its designers. If you turned the power switch to "on" very slowly, or sort of stuttered it back and forth between on and off, the display would spontaneously start counting. The third digit from the right would increase about once per second, with the first and second digits going 100 and 10 times faster than that, respectively. It would just continue counting as long as it was left on, once it started. Very strange thing. One time I let it go for about 12 days, which is how long it took to reach a count of 1,000,000. This amused me much more than it should have.

A few years later I moved on to my own scientific calculator, first an obscure brand, the name of which I can no longer recall, then to the Hewlett-Packard that is still sitting in the desk drawer right next to me as I write. [Addendum: The internet is the most awesome thing ever. I remembered that my first scientific calculator used "reverse Polish notation," which was extremely unusual for any non-HP model. Using just that clue, I tracked it down in less than five minutes. It was the APF Mark 55, and you can see and read a bit about it here. So cool!]

None of that has anything to do with poker or this blog, but sometimes I get into a stream-of-consciousness thing that just keeps going with a will of its own--kind of like that old calculator. It's probably best if I switch off the power for now and let it all reset.

10 comments:

Memphis MOJO said...

When I was 13, we used the slide rule! I'm happy to report that at that time we no longer used sun dials.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the milestone.
Didn't you have a calculator on your cell phone back in the day???

Anonymous said...

Just a few days ago, was remembering the encyclopedia in our house when I was a kid. I also figured they had gone the way of the dinosaur.
smudger

Keiser said...

Clearly you should buy a TI-2500 and take it to play poker, then whip it out and say "hold on, let me figure out my pot odds..."

gr7070 said...

When I was 13 I bought stock in Hersheys and Phillips Petroleum with my paper route money. Still have it. Very geeky!

For the RPN fans:
http://www.hpmuseum.org/
greatness.

Cranky said...

Having worked many years for an actuarial consulting firm, my calculator was an HP 12C, using that reverse Polish notation. Still find it odd using the calculator on my blackberry.

Like Memphis MOJO, my first calculator was a slide rule. Glad we don't have to use those anymore.

Grange95 said...

2500?!? That's a lot of grumpiness!

(May you long continue to be irritated by poker.)

Joe said...

OK, I read all 2500 posts. No, I'm not a geek. Yes, I am still employed. Your blog reflects you (not an imitation). It is well put together, uses real English, is clear and logical, and in your format.

I look forward to reading it.

ps: When do I get my $5.

Dan said...

Congrats on hitting 2500. Although I haven't read all 2500 posts, I have read more than 2000. I've enjoyed the vast majority of them.

Congratulations once again and keep up the good work.

Fred said...

I learned to play poker (kind of) from encyclopedia britannica. Looked up the hand rankings and started betting Halloween candy with my friends when I was 10.

Great way to turn Mike & Ikes into Snickers.