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hpr2166 :: How to use a Slide Rule

By popular request, a description of how a slide rule works

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Hosted by Dave Morriss on 2016-11-21 is flagged as Explicit and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
slide rule, logarithm, slipstick, analogue computer. 3.
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Duration: 00:14:47


How to use a Slide Rule

In my show 1664, “Life and Times of a Geek part 1”, I spoke about using a slide rule as a schoolboy. As a consequence, I was asked if I would do a show on slide rules, and this is it (after a rather long delay).

Long notes

I have written out a moderately long set of notes for this episode and these are available here


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Comment #1 posted on 2016-11-25 20:57:41 by chalkahlom

very much enjoyed the show, and I was following along with my old 'Boots' slide-rule. Thanks Dave

Comment #2 posted on 2016-11-25 23:33:07 by Steve Smethurst

I showd my students a virtual slide rule as example of analogue computer. Became fascinated with them and just bought a Faber Castell 52/82, duplex with 19 scales; of course from ebay. Not got it in the post yet. As a kid I used 4 figure tables but in O'Level class I was allowed to use my brand new TI-30. Didn't get taught slide rule. I liked the LL scales, raising e^x. I new there had to be a way to have y instead of e, so I looked up raising arbitrary y by arbitrary x. Well cool!

Comment #3 posted on 2016-11-27 13:53:59 by Dave Morriss


Thanks chalkahlom, glad you enjoyed it. I didn't realise that Boots (a UK-based pharmacy chain) sold slide-rules, but I see references to them online.

Cheers Steve. I don't remember being taught how to use a slide-rule. Maybe we were and I wasn't listening! I did use it a moderate amount, but not for anything very sophisticated. Perhaps you could tell us about the more advanced features by way of an HPR show at some point. You could demonstrate your new Faber Castell :-)

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