March 28, 2020


Back in 2007 I sold a bunch of slave clocks on ebay to a school in Wisconsin. As I was looking through old photos on a hard drive this evening, I was reminded of the fact that I had designed a custom clock face and put my little one-man business logo on the clock face.

I worked with a company in Dassel, Minnesota to get the clocks produced; the clocks were a square version of their “All Sync” clocks that would work with pretty much any clock system found in a school built from the mid 1950s and onward. The clocks could run on either 24 or 110 VAC. The school in Wisconsin was looking to replace some of their clocks but not all of them and couldn’t afford or even find replacements for their antiquated system. They were searching through clocks on ebay they found what I was selling and asked if they could buy a bunch of them. I was happy to oblige.

The clock was face design was a modern take on the clocks that were in the elementary school I attended back in the ’70s. I thought the face turned out well and now I’m wondering if the clocks are still running in the school that bought them.

As modern time and signaling systems hit the market in the early 2010 and many schools starting moving to wireless systems, it didn’t make financial sense for me to stay in replacement clock game.

As mentioned in the previous blog entry, I’m such a dork.


I remember I was in elementary school when my dad first let me behind the counter at the family hardware store and lumber yard. It was in the mid 1970s and while cash transactions were recorded on a very early 20th century cash drawer that required hand written receipts as well as recording transactions by hand, the adding machine on the counter was quite nifty.

It was identical to the one pictured above: a Sharp Micro Compet.

The display was groovy. Though not shown in the photo, the zero was represented by the bottom portion of the “6” or the “8”, resulting in this half-height number. Unused digits to the left of the number being displayed were filled in with this zero, all eight digits were populated at all times.

It was an adding machine and not a calculator in that the addition and subtraction functions worked as an accumulator instead of doing arithmetic. It’s the accounting way of doing things and if you’re unfamiliar, think of it this way. You have a bucket. You add things to the bucket by pressing whatever number and pressing plus or minus. If you wanted to add two things twice (2+2), you’d hit 2 += 2+=. If you then wanted to subtract one, you’d then hit 1 -=. The display would read, in sequence, 2, 4, 3, as you completed each operation.

You’ll also notice the combination of multiplication and division on one key. The result was dependent on which equals key you hit: 2x÷2+= would result in 4, 2x÷2-= would result in 1. Even at a young age this made a lot of sense to me.

Per the Wikipedia page, this calculator was the first mass produced calculator using integrated circuits. It sold for $395 in 1970 and came with a leather cover.

My grandfather invested in good technology from time to time.

I remember checking my math homework from 2nd or 3rd grade with my father’s assistance. He cautiously watched me work the keys on this technological marvel; probably because it was so expensive. I can still remember the first time I entered a number on that adding machine and being so entranced with how it worked.

It’s no wonder I became such a dork.