Slide Rules Rule!
Slipstick spirit lives on!
Are you an engineer? Okay, cool, so you have a slide rule, right? Wait, what? No slide rule? How can you call yourself an engineer then? A scientist? I mean, don't you LOVE logarithms? And trigonometric functions? And order of magnitude has always been easy to keep track of in your head, right? No slipstick?!
Alright, I'll help you out here. This lens will give you another notch on your geek belt. Yeah... I see you smiling now!
Slide Rule Fanclub President?
Is the slide rule the coolest thing or what?
A Brief History of the Slide Rule
Excerpt from Wikipedia
The slide rule (often nicknamed a "slipstick") was developed by William Oughtred and others (see history, below); it is a mechanical analog computer, consisting of at least two finely divided scales (rules), most often a fixed outer pair and a movable inner one, with a sliding window called the cursor. The slide rule is used primarily for multiplication and division, and also for "scientific" functions such as roots, logarithms and trigonometry, but does not generally perform addition or subtraction. The Binary Slide Rule manufactured by Gilson in 1931 performed an addition and subtraction function limited to fractions.
Before the advent of the pocket calculator, it was the most commonly used calculation tool in science and engineering. The use of slide rules continued to grow through the 1950s and 1960s even as digital computing devices were being gradually introduced; but around 1974 the electronic scientific calculator made it largely obsolete and most suppliers exited the business.
Slide Rule History
Originally published in German in 1977 as the first major book on the history of the slide rule since Florian Cajori's A History of the Logarithmic Slide Rule, this newly revised and translated edition of Slide Rules, A Journey Through Three Centuries, offers readers a fresh, more Continental perspective on this most fascinating of calculating instruments.
Learn to Use the Slide Rule
The basic math of the slide rule lies in the logarithmic scales marked on the device. Multiplication and division of large numbers can be easily done by aligning the appropriate marks. In essence, moving the slider allows you to add the distances on the slide rule, and with logarithm rules in mind, log(A)+log(B)=log(AxB). Confused? Try it out for yourself. Oh, riiight, you don't have a slide rule yet. Use a virtual one, then.
- How and Why a Slide Rule Works
Great page with clear illustrations. If you serious about understanding how it works, this is the best place to do it.
- Instructions in Slide Rule Use
A set of links that point you to simple, no nonsense guides on using the slide rule. Describes basic mathematical principles and gives descriptions of all the scales that can be found on a slide rule.
- JavaSlide Interactive Slide Rule
If you don't have a slide rule, you can use this one on the web. Drag the slider and place your cursor over the hairline to read the answer.
- UniVirtual Slide Rule Emulator
This slide rule emulator is prettier and acts more like a real slide rule since you must zoom in to see the marks more clearly. Exact values appear if you hover your cursor and you can also add/subtract scales to the rule.
- Build Your Own Slide Rule
Has pdf files that you can print to make your own slide rules. You can print them on transparencies if you want to use them as overheads, too.
Slide Rules Explained in Video
Using the Slide Rule
simple, practical guide with complete instructions.
Linear Slide Rules
Okay, you're ready to get your own slide rule now. Take a peek. Get your own pocket-sized slipstick to truly become old-school engineer! Ditch your calculator. They use electricity.
What is 2 x 2?
The engineer whips out his slide rule, shuffles it back and forth, and finally announces "3.99".
Circular Slide Rules
If you're always doing calculations that make you run out of room, you need a wrap-around circular slide rule. Oftentimes, you'll get increased accuracy on the outer scales, too. They come with one or two movable arms.
GIANT Slide Rules
Do you believe bigger is better? Check out some of these large demonstration slide rules. Great for classrooms and living rooms. Or bedrooms, too.
Slide Rule Watches
You think engineers are the only ones who used slide rules? Well, you know what, pilots use slide rules, too. And they are so cool that they still use them today! It's a fast way to calculate speed, distance, fuel use, etc. The E6B style watches go great with aviator glasses.
Slide Rules Made Simple
This book, first published in 1881, was written about the use of the first standard slide rule made in the United States: a Mannheim-type slide rule made by Stephens Co., a major rule manufacturer. As a source book, it should be of great interest and value to tool collectors, slide rule enthusiasts, and woodworkers.
Slide Rule Collecting Links
So, you're ready to take the leap into collecting? Check out these resources online, and you'll find that you're joining a very vibrant community.
- Oughtred Society
The world's best known international slide rule society. "Dedicated to the preservation and history of slide rules and other calculating instruments."
- Ron Manley's Slide Rule Site
This site is a must-see for all collectors. One of the only slide rule pages on the web to be updated regularly. Furthermore, he analyzes the prices of slide rules sold on eBay.
- Eric's Slide Rule Site
Photos and information about one man's slide rule collection. He also gives tips on how to restore old slide rules.
- The Slide Rule Universe
Doesn't the name just say it all? Huge, extensive slide rule site. You can even buy them here.
Did I convince you to get one? Or are you an avid collector already? Please leave a comment. Especially if you have a slide rule joke. Thanks!