Sharp EL-506 Handheld Electronic Calculator

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This handheld electronic calculator is the first model in a series of scientific calculators sold by Sharp under variations of the designation EL-506 (e.g. EL-506A, EL-506H, EL-506P, EL-506W, EL-506WBK). This particular calculator has a metal and plastic case and thirty-nine rectangular plastic keys. The four lower rows of keys are similar to those found on many calculators, with ten digit keys, a change sign key, a decimal point key, four arithmetic function keys, three memory keys and a total key. The memory keys also can serve as keys for various statistical functions, as can two keys above them. The remaining keys represent a wide array of trigonometric, logarithmic, exponential and other functions, as well as a function key and an on/clear key. Above the keys is an on/off switch. A mark next to it reads: SHARP (/) Scientific calculator (/) EL-506. Behind this is a ten-digit LCD display.
The plastic back of the case has text that reads in part: ELECTRONIC CALCULATOR (/) EL-506. It also reads: NO. 06188695 (/) SHARP CORPORATION (/) MADE IN JAPAN BM.
The calculator has a brown plastic wallet.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1980, p. SD_A3. Sharp EL-506 advertised as selling for $24.95. Image is of this calculator.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, May 17, 1985, p. D20. Sharp EL-506 advertised as selling for $24.95. Image is of this calculator.
[Advertisement], Chicago Tribune, December 3, 1989, p. AA38. Sharp EL-506 advertised as selling for $18.88. This is not the same as the calculator in the collections.
Currently not on view
date made
Sharp Corporation
place made
Physical Description
plastic (keys; wallet material)
glass (display material)
metal (case material)
overall: 3/8 in x 2 3/4 in x 4 3/4 in; .9525 cm x 6.985 cm x 12.065 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


I had either this model or a very similar Sharp in high school in the '80s. At one point a friend ran over my backpack, and the calculator, with their car tire. The faceplate bent a little, but it continued to work flawlessly for years. The thing was practically bulletproof!
i've got one and it still works, nice calculator actually, elegant design...
This is the calculator that got me through electrical engineering school in the mid '80's. I actually found it lying on the sidewalk while walking home from classes in my sophomore year. I loved it. It was a definite improvement over my clunky TI-30.
Likewise gents. Mine was bought for exams I was going through for a job in the oil business (offshore Aberdeen,Scotland) back in 1980 and it still has the original battery and cover. It's has been used briefly daily all these years. It has also travelled well. It's started off in Scotland and has been to Norway, France, Germany, Italy, Philippines, Yemen, Turkey, Gambia, Senegal, Libya and now resides in Malta.
I bought this calculator in 1980 for the Illinois professional engineering exam. Programmable calculators were not allowed. In December 1980, I installed a new battery the night before the exam to make sure it would not run out of power during the exam. It is still running just fine on that same battery. The automatic power-off function must work really well. I still have the instruction manual that came with the calculator.
I still use mine (EL-506P) everyday at work and it has the same battery. I wish I could find a new plastic case for it. The one I have now is falling apart......
Mine is still working as well.
Bought this calculator for high school math around 1980. This one also still functions with the original battery.
I still use this calculator a little daily and bought it in 1979. I have nerer replaced the original battery and it works fine.
"I swear i have used this since i got it in the 80's and i haven't changed the battery too, how strange."

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