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14-A

World's first compact electronic calculator

Released in 1957, the Casio 14-A marked the inception of the world's inaugural compact all-electric calculating device. Its designation, 14-A, signifies its capability to handle numbers up to 14 digits in length, setting a pioneering standard. In terms of technology, it incorporated 341 relays, contained within a sizable cabinet that supported a key-entry terminal comparable in size to a typewriter. The unit weighed a substantial 308 lbs. Its display featured an illuminating pad, while its memory could store 3 sets of 5-digit components. Operating on a 100V power supply, the Casio 14-A consumed 300 watts of power.

Fun fact: the 14-A was first sold for 485,000 JPY (~$1,350 in 1956). This would be ~$14,880 in 2024 based on an average inflation rate of 3.6% per year! Woah!

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The 14-A, the world’s first compact all-electric calculator, improved office work by supporting more efficient and labor-saving calculation.

In the 1950s, gears were used in office calculators, which took about 10 seconds on average to perform multiplication or division. Furthermore, because the gears were rotated at high speed by electric motor, there was also a noise problem. In order to overcome these issues by developing a calculator based on a completely new concept, the Kashio brothers looked at relays, a technology used by telephone exchanges at that time. Massive computers equipped with 13,000 relays were already in use. The 14-A was able to perform the four basic arithmetic operations up to 14 digits using just 341 relays.

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