Otis King's Pocket Calculator Model L Cylindrical Slide Rule

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This six-inch cylindrical slide rule consists of a chromium-plated holder, a metal cylinder that slides into the holder, and a black metal tube that fits around and slides up and down on the cylinder. The telescoping rule is ten inches long when extended and equivalent to a rectangular slide rule 66 feet in length. Two short white lines on the tube and a black mark on the chrome cap at the end of the cylinder serve as the indicator. A paper spiral logarithmic scale is attached to the top half of the holder. A second, linear and logarithmic, paper scale is attached to the cylinder. The logarithmic scales are used to multiply and divide, and the linear scale is used to find logarithms.
At the top of the cylinder is printed: PATENT No 183723. At the bottom of the cylinder is printed: OTIS KING'S POCKET CALCULATOR; SCALE No 430. The top of the scale on the holder is printed: SCALE No 429; COPYRIGHT. The bottom is printed: OTIS KING'S PATENT No 183723. The end of the holder is engraved: MADE IN (/) Y9481 (/) ENGLAND.
Otis Carter Formby King invented this form of slide rule in 1921, and Carbic Limited of London, England, manufactured it until 1972. The serial number, Y9481, suggests a date about 1965–1969 for this example. A collector of computing devices donated it to the Smithsonian.
See also 1987.0788.01 and 1989.3049.02. For documentation, see 1981.0922.10 and 1981.0922.11.
References: Peter M. Hopp, Slide Rules: Their History, Models, and Makers (Mendham, N.J.: Astragal Press, 1999), 274, 281; Otis Carter Formby King, "Calculating Apparatus," (U.S. Patent 1,645,009 issued October 11, 1927); Richard F. Lyon, "Dating of the Otis King: An Alternative Theory Developed Through Use of the Internet," Journal of the Oughtred Society 7, no. 1 (1998): 33–38; Dick Lyon, "Otis King's Patent Calculator," http://www.svpal.org/~dickel/OK/OtisKing.html.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1965-1968
Carbic Limited
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
Physical Description
chromium (overall material)
paper (part material)
metal (part material)
overall: 15 cm x 3.1 cm x 3.1 cm; 5 29/32 in x 1 7/32 in x 1 7/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John White
Rule, Calculating
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Slide Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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