National Semiconductor Novus 850 Handheld Electronic Calculator

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This handheld electronic calculator has a tan plastic case and seventeen rectangular plastic keys. In addition to ten digit keys and a decimal point key, it has a clear entry/clear key, four arithmetic function keys, and a total key. On the left on the brown and off-white keyboard is an on/off switch. Text above it reads: 850 NOVUS. Behind the keyboard is an eight-digit LED display. A compartment for a battery opens on the top of the back.
A jack for a power adapter is on the left side.
Advertisements indicate that the Novus 850 was introduced by the fall of 1974 for a price of $25.88 and sold at least through April 1977, when it sold for $4.99. The two-tone keyboard appears only from 1976 onward, hence the dates assigned.
Compare 1986.0988.306 (a Novus 850) with 1986.0988.305 (a National Semiconductor 850A).
[Advertisement], Washington Post, November 21, 1974, p. A21. Here the Novus 850 said to be a nine-digit calculator. The ad gives a price of $24.88, compared to $19.88 for the Novus 650.
[Advertisement], Chicago Tribune, November 28, 1974, p. C11. Novus 850 said to be an eight-digit calculator using algebraic logic and selling for $19.95.
[Advertisement], New York Times, November 28, 1974, p. 24. Same advertisement as in the Chicago Tribune on the same date.
Nathaniel C. Nash, “Shakeout Time for Calculators: Hand-Held Units' Prices and Makers Are Falling,” New York Times, December 8, 1974, p. 217. Article mentions that the Novus 850 sells for under $20.00.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1975, p. E3. Novus 850 on sale for $16.96, Novus Mathematician (model 4510) on sale for $59.95.
[Advertisement], Washington Post, April 6, 1975, p. H12. Novus 850 on sale for $16.88, originally $24.95.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, December 13, 1975, p. C4. Novus 850 on sale for $12.95.
[Advertisement], Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1976, p. A5. Novus 850 on sale for $6.99, regular $10.95. This ad shows the calculator having a two-tone keyboard, unlike previous advertisements.
[Advertisement], Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1977, p. T15. Advertises Novus 850 as selling for $4.99. Shows the calculator as having a two-tone keyboard.
Currently not on view
date made
National Semiconductor Corporation
place made
United States
Physical Description
plastic (case; keys; display cover material)
metal (circuitry material)
overall: 1 in x 2 5/8 in x 5 in; 2.54 cm x 6.6675 cm x 12.7 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John B. Priser
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Handheld Electronic Calculators
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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