Slide Rules

I have a habit of pulling wire-bound books out of the shelves of thrift stores to take a peek at the covers. Usually they’re cookbooks, but I’m on the hunt for a book called “Rocky’s Typewriter Repair Manual” by Clarence LeRoy Jones, which I’ve never seen a copy of, but I expect it’ll be wire-bound. [I have since this post, found a copy of nearly everything Rocky published, that I know of, and no, it wasn’t wire bound]. I take the invariable disappointment of seeing the titles of these wire-bound books in stride, but very, very occasionally I’ll get a little surprise.

Today’s thrifting trip held one such rare surprise. I pulled out a wire-bound book and found this:

IMG_7433“Slide Rule, A Textbook For Classroom and Self-Instruction” by C.L. Johnston, written in 1953, this is the Fifth Edition, published in 1972. It’s a complete course in using a slide rule, with extensive tests in problem solving.

IMG_7434I only have two slide rules, fairly simple ones: A Post 1447 Mannheim made of Bamboo in Japan in August 1954 (with original box!) and a more modern Pickett 1010-T made of aluminum. Neither are shown in the “recommended slide rules” section of the instruction manual, and thus I may have to hunt down a more complex and featureful model before taking on the course.

Speaking of which, since I know there are at least a few Typospherians with a slide rule addiction, I have scanned in that section for your enjoyment and reference. Click or download to embiggify, they’re pretty high-resolution scans:

sliderules-1 sliderules-2 sliderules-3 sliderules-4 sliderules-5

Updated: September 9, 2020 — 3:22 pm


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  1. Whoa! an identical SUN HEMMI sliderule took me thru university in the 70’s. But then again slide rules didn’t really change that much over the course of decades.

  2. Nonono, I’m not a collector.

    Hmmmdo have a few. I’ll admit.


    But your trigger me now, I’ll scan and post now of a pocket Graphoplex I got recently. Thanks for the images, can imagine these would work well as a large format wall poster :)

  3. Cool! But I have to admit, I never had the chance to use them.

  4. Some people have all the luck! I’m surprised that the 1010-t wouldn’t get you through the book. It’s a pretty complete rule. Thanks for the scans!

  5. I think your Post rule may be August 1954, if that date code on the end reads “EH” that is. I know that’s the 1950’s logo on the box there. I have three Post rules from WW2 when they had to find US makers. One of those little footnotes to the war.

  6. Cool find! Good luck with the typewriter book hunt.

  7. On typing, way back when I was in Junior High School, I took a typing course, big old mechanical machines were used, keyboards were blank, these were instructional machines, keyboard chart hanging at front of classroom. At end of course,I typed, error free, 65 wpm.

    As to slide rules, I have several, both circular, Gilsons mostly, one Scientific Instruments, and one Pickett. Stick rules, one Post Versalog, the rest K& E’s. Back when I was designing and detailing piping systems, we had to figure dimensions to 1/16″ for fabrication. No way to get that close doing trig with a slide rule, we used Smoley’s Tables, this was long before electronic calculators. Actually, re the slide rule, ancient though they are, they are fascinating devices, to some people, to this day. They still work too, batteries not required.

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