Bowmar MX55 Handheld Electronic Calculator

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This handheld electronic calculator is one of a series of such calculators introduced by Bowmar in the early 1970s. A LED (light-emitting diode) display manufacturer and defense contractor, Bowmar/Ali, Inc. (USA), found they could not sell their displays to Japanese electronic calculator makers. In 1970–71, Bowmar decided to design and manufacture portable calculators. Some were marketed by other companies, others, like this one, by Bowmar/Ali.
The handheld calculator has a black plastic case with ten digit keys, a decimal key, keys for the four arithmetic functions, a total key, a percentage key, and a clear/clear entry key. The on/off switch is on the keyboard, the eight-digit display behind this. The plug for the power supply is on the right side. A mark at the top reads: Bowmar. It uses the Bowmar trademark registered in 1974.
A sticker on the back of the calculator reads in part: Bowmar MX55 PERSONAL CALCULATOR (/) WITH OMNI-CONSTANT® REGISTER. It also reads in part: BOWMAR MODEL MX55 SERIAL NO. 170509 (/) BOWMAR/ALI, 531 MAIN ST., ACTON, MA. Pat. Pend. (/) ASSEMBLED IN MEXICO.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1974
place made
Physical Description
plastic (case; keys; display screen material)
metal (circuitry material)
paper (instructions; box material)
overall: 1 1/4 in x 3 in x 5 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 7.62 cm x 14.605 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