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Remembering the Little Professor Calculator

22 March 2009 Leave a comment

While surfing around my innumerable feeds I came across a interview on the G4 blog with Jon-Paul C. Dyson, the Director of the National Center for the History of Electronic Games and Eric Wheeler, Associate Curator. While it’s true that there is now a valid reason to visit Rochester, NY (and why build a museum all the way out there is what I want to know), something smacked me upside the head with a big old “oh my god, I totally forgot about that!”

The Little Professor Calculator

The Little Professor Calculator

Meet The Little Professor Calculator. Released by Texas Instruments in 1976, it was given to me for Christmas that year by one of my parents, most likely my mother who couldn’t handle helping me learn new math. The Little Professor was not a bad gift to give a child who was not doing well in mathematics. I was fine with 1 + 1 = 2, but after that I’m all fingers and toes (and still am!).

I was completely in love with my Little Professor. It had buttons, flashing LEDs, and was electronic and I was utterly fascinated with it despite it’s mathematical inclination. It had a wrist strap which was attached to the professor’s plastic mortarboard-like top, so it kind of looked like a tassel. According to Retroland, it came with five levels of difficulty and 16,000 math problems. I think it even had problems where you were given two numbers and a result and had to figure out which operator resulted in the answer. I think it may have even kept track of how many answers your got right or wrong, but my memory is kind of fuzzy on this point.

I spent a lot of hours counting fingers and toes playing with this thing. But sadly, I don’t think the Little Professor helped my budding educational career when it came to math: to this day I struggle with my seven and eight times tables. Maths is clearly not my thing. But at least for a while, until the next cool shiny electronic toy came along, I had a friend in the Little Professor helping me along.

Here’s the Little Professor co-starring in a Texas Instruments calculator commercial from 1978: