a four function electronic calculator that could be bartered for 300 gallons of gasoline…

by shiva

I first connected to the Internet in the 1990s, and am profoundly grateful to have virtually met many excellent people whom I otherwise should never have encountered.

My professional grasp and reach have been extended by the Internet, which seems to make me a more productive employee to my principals.

The Internet also has enabled me to locate some very dear old friends whose addresses I’ve mislaid along the way.

slide rule

slide rule

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I was amongst oone of the last generations of students to own an actual slide rule and prodigiously heavy reference works such as Perry’s Handbook; The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics; that Necronomicon of Chemical Engineering, the impenetrably arcane Transport Phenomena of Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot (like Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, lots of folks own one but few have opened it); and that delightfully whimsically titled “The Properties of Gases and Liquids.”


It was my privilege to shell out US$200 of hard earned wages representing two weeks’ worth of waiting tables (back in the day when it could purchase three hundred gallons of gasoline) for a four-function electronic calculator featuring Big Red Numbers and Little Rubber Feet, and awaited with bated breath the decision by our faculty as to whether or not we could bring one to a chemistry examination.


Research which once demanded the allocation of time to physically visit the library and pore through card catalogues before actually determining whether an actual volume was on the actual premises and available today is no more demanding upon my decrepit superannuated form than accessing my Blackberry.

I kind of like it.

Story by Gerry Lo, Director, Engineering and Technical Services at Nycomed

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