Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Slip Sticks Land at MIT

More than 600 historic slide rules have found a new home at the MIT Museum
April 1, 2005

Slide rules excite interest and even passion at the Institute, especially among engineers of a certain age, says MIT Museum science and technology curator Deborah Douglas. Now, thanks to a recent donation of more than 600 historic slide rules by South Hadley, MA–based InteliCoat Technologies, the museum will be able to share the history of this beloved calculating device with a wider audience.

The collection was assembled by Keuffel and Esser of Hoboken, NJ, which was one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of slide rules in the United States from the 1870s until around 1976, when it got out of the business because of the popularity of electronic calculators. The collection, which found its way to ­InteliCoat after a series of mergers and acquisitions, includes rules that Keuffel and Esser made throughout this hundred-year span, as well as competitors’ rules.

MIT Museum curators are particularly excited about the collection because it illustrates how Keuffel and Esser experimented with different designs and styles, and how its clientele changed over the years. In addition to its standard engineer’s rules, the company developed a series of specialty rules. For example, the collection includes a “residential building cost” slide rule that estimates the cost of building a house given its square footage and construction materials. Other treasures include a rare three-sided brass rule made in the late 1800s and a 2.5-meter-long demonstration rule for teachers.

The museum is just starting to document the rules, which it received last summer. Pending funding, Douglas hopes to open an exhibition in about two years. She is sure the collection will attract attention from alumni who still have sentimental attachments to slide rules, and she hopes it will also intrigue the calculator generation. “Almost everything in the modern world was built in some way using one of these,” says Douglas. “Whether it’s a sewer pipe or the space shuttle or a bridge or a radio, they’re all designed by people who used this tool for making general calculations.”

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

stock art of market data
stock art of market data

Maximize business value with data-driven strategies

Every organization is now collecting data, but few are truly data driven. Here are five ways data can transform your business.

Cryptocurrency fuels new business opportunities

As adoption of digital assets accelerates, companies are investing in innovative products and services.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.