Sharp EL-5805 Handheld Electronic Calculator

This handheld electronic calculator was advertised in the newspaper the Washington Post as “Sharp’s Super Slim Super Scientist.” The scientific calculator has a metal case and thirty-five 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 next row up contains keys for various forms of exponents and logarithms, and an exchange key. The next row up (just below the top row of keys) contains a key for converting from degrees, minutes, and seconds to decimal degrees, as well as keys for trigonometric functions. The top row of keys includes an F key for switching the functions of the function keys, and keys for powers, square roots, clear entry, and clear. Pressing the function key converts the action of many of the keys in the top three rows. The memory keys also become keys for various statistical functions.
Above the keyboard are the on/off switch, and a switch for setting angular measure at degrees, radians, or grads. Behind this is an eight-digit LCD display, which can show a mantissa of six digits and a two-digit exponent.
At the base of the back of the calculator is a compartment for two squat cylindrical silver oxide batteries. Text above these reads in part: ELECTRONIC CALCULATOR (/) EL-5805. It also reads: NO. 70027227 (/) SHARP CORPORATION (/) MADE IN JAPAN BM.
The calculator has a brown plastic wallet. A mark on the front of it reads: SHARP (/) ELECTRONIC CALCULATOR.
[Advertisement], Washington Post, August 26, 1977, p. A6. Calculator selling for $29.95. The same ad mentions the Sharp EL-500 selling for $16.95.
[Advertisement], Chicago Tribune, June 4, 1978, p. I18. Advertisement describes EL-5805, with a total of eight digits in the display (six mantissa, two exponents), selling for $29.95. It also mentions the EL-5806, with a total of ten digits in the display (eight mantissa, two exponents), selling for $34.95.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
date made
Sharp Corporation
Physical Description
metal (case material)
plastic (carrying case; keys materal)
glass (display material)
paper (sticker material)
overall: 1/4 in x 2 3/4 in x 5 in; .635 cm x 6.985 cm x 12.7 cm
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Handheld Electronic Calculators
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


"I bought a Sharp EL-5805 in the late 70s, shortly after it became available. This was truly a remarkable calculator, and as I think back it was easily my favorite out of perhaps 30 scientific calculators I have owned or used. The case was nicely done metal while those of TI and HP (to name but two makers) used plastic even on their best devices. The key 'feel' and reliability was excellent and still some of the best I have ever used, rivaling those of the better HP's (but with a very different feel than the HPs). The LCD was something Sharp did very well early on, before most other makers had embraced the LCDs, and it was clear and easy to read. The LCD also allowed them to power the calculator with a couple button cells while most others still needed AA cells and much bigger cases. Special praise is due to the excellent, logical and uncluttered keypad layout and graphics; I still have not seen any other calculator to rival the clarity of this calculator's layout, and sadly modern Sharps are nothing to brag about; they seem to have lost this edge. I kept my EL-5805 on my work office desk for a LONG time, finally retiring it to my home machine shop for another 10 years, and finally to my home office to use when balancing the checkbook. It was only retired when the LCD started to get a bit bleedy, as they often do on these early efforts at the technology. This calculator certainly deserves a place of honor as one of the best designed and built calculators ever produced."

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