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Curta Calculator

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Curtas were actually used all the way into the 1980s, because people were uncomfortable with electronic calculators. They still demand a high price from collectors and hobbyists.



  • Fact 1: The Curta is a handheld mechanical calculator introduced in 1948 by Curt Herzstark. It can perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even square roots.
  • Fact 2: Herzstark was a German Jew, and was taken into custody during World War II. His work on the calculator intrigued Nazi officers and allowed him to survive the Buchenwald concentration camp.
  • Fact 3: Curtas sold for $175, but the running joke was that they really cost $475, since they often had to be reassembled for $300 by a professional after being taken apart by curious owners.
  • Fact 4: Curtas saw widespread use in rally car races, since electronic calculators malfunctioned on the racetrack, and by pilots, who trusted the manual input of the Curta over an electronic calculator.
  • Fact 5: Because the Curta was operated by cranking a lever on the top, it gave rise to the phrase, "cranking out the answer."

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