Slide Rules Make Comeback – Computer Geeks Stunned

A young engineer trying out a slide rule, with curious onlookers in the background.

ORANGE COUNTY, California – After near extinction brought on by the advent of electronic calculators, the venerable slide rule is making a remarkable comeback.

Bovine Hamfist, CEO of the Officious Depot chain of office supply stores, said that his company sold 2 slide rules in 2014 and have already sold 3 this year. “Beats the hell out of me why anybody wants one of these things, but we still have a box of them left over from the 1960’s that somehow didn’t get thrown away. So come and get ‘em.”

Sanford Olphart, age 68, the latest purchaser, said that he was tired of dead batteries, illegible displays and tiny keyboards. “Those gizmos are designed for pygmies. And besides, how do you know that the answer they give you is right? I usually wind up checking things with a pencil and paper. With a slide rule I’m pretty sure and then I double check with an abacus.”

Herr Heinz Scheisskopf, manager of petroleum engineering and sudden invasions at Blitz Oil Company in Berghof, Texas noted that his company purchased a slide rule for use by its geological staff.

Heinz Scheisskopf, manager

“They’re damned near illiterate so instruction books for calculators were useless. I hoped a simple analog device like a slide rule would be comprehensible to them. However, most of them wound up using it as a straight edge. Still, that’s an improvement since they normally chew up everything, including rulers. So we’ll be ordering more.”

Greater success was achieved at the U. S. Department of the Treasury. Carlo Ponzi, Undersecretary for Deliberate Vagueness, said that the use of slide rules has allowed Treasury to add a “margin of error” to its financial reports. He said,

“You can get at best only three significant places for calculations using a standard slide rule. We use a special miniature slide rule that is good for only one significant place. The ability to round off to the nearest trillion dollars has been a godsend.”

Geologists were not the only ones baffled by the device.  When shown to younger engineers, the typical response was “How do you plug the damned thing in?  And where’s the USB port?”