Sharp EL-5804 Handheld Electronic Calculator

This handheld electronic calculator was advertised in the Washington Post as “Sharp’s Super Slick Sliderule [sic] Built for Scientists.” It combined the shape of a slide rule with the functions of a scientific calculator, and even boasted a plastic leatherette carrying sleeve.
The calculator has a metal case and thirty-two rectangular plastic keys. The rightmost column of keys has three memory keys and a total key. Left of this is a column of four arithmetic function keys. Left of this are three columns with ten digit keys, a change sign key, and a decimal point key. Function keys left of this include logarithmic, exponential, trigonometric, square root, and degree conversion keys. If an F key is pushed, these keys also can be used to find powers of e, reciprocals, pi, and inverse trigonometric functions. The clear entry/clear key and the F key are left of these function keys. Still further to the left is an on/off key, which can be set for angular measure in either degrees or radians.
At the far left is an LCD display, which gives results in scientific notation, with a six-digit mantissa and a two-digit exponent. Text below the display reads: ELSI MATE EL-5804 (/) SHARP.
The back of the calculator has a scale at the top fifteen centimeters long, divided to millimeters. A compartment on the bottom right would hold three squat cylindrical silver oxide batteries. Text next to the battery compartment reads in part: ELECTRONIC CALCULATOR (/) EL-5804. It also reads: NO. 74302580 BM (/) SHARP CORPORATION (/) MADE IN JAPAN. Further text reads: U.S. Pats 3902169 3976994. The most recent U.S. patent number listed, 3976994, was issued in 1976 and assigned to Sharp.
A mark on the brown carrying case reads: SHARP.
[Advertisement], Washington Post, August 12, 1977, p. D16. Advertised as costing $34.95.
Frank Macias, “Calculating Friends: Delegate That Everyday Balancing Act to These Little Guys with Big Brains,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 1978, p. O64.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
date made
Sharp Corporation
Physical Description
plastic (keys; carrying case material)
metal (case material)
glass (display material)
overall: 1/4 in x 7 in x 1 3/16 in; .635 cm x 17.78 cm x 3.0226 cm
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Computers & Business Machines
Handheld Electronic Calculators
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Handheld Electronic Calculators
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of John B. Priser
Additional Media

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