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  • An Old Inspiration to Arithmetic (AOITA)

    The electronic calculator is a ubiquitous, little appreciated, piece of technology with a rich history. The first all-electronic calculator, the ANITA (A New Inspiration to Arithmetic), was developed by the British Bell Punch Company in 1961, and featured vacuum and cold-cathode tubes. The ANITA was superseded in 1963 by the legendary Friden EC-130, which swapped vacuum tubes for a solid-state design, and introduced Reverse Polish Notation (RPN). Alas, the electronic calculator is no longer the prominent powerhouse it once was. In 1986, an estimated 41% of the world’s general-purpose hardware was dedicated to electronic calculators; today, that has diminished to less than 0.05%.

    Nonetheless, an appreciation of yesteryear is in order. In commemoration of the electronic calculator, I have designed and built the AOITA (An Old Inspiration to Arithmetic) that uses the solid-state design and RPN of the Friden EC-130, but retains the vacuum tube display of the ANITA. In a testament to progress, the AOITA uses a modern AVR 1284P microcontroller and a newly fashioned set of vacuum tubes designed by Dalibor Farny in the Czech Republic.

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