Bowmar Math Mate Handheld Electronic Calculator

This handheld electronic calculator has a cream-colored plastic case with a charcoal-colored plastic keyboard and blue plastic keys. In addition to ten digit keys, it has a decimal point key, a total key, keys for the four arithmetic functions, a percent key, and a clear/clear entry key. The on/off switch is right of the clear key. Behind these is an eight-digit LED display. A mark on the display reads: math mate. Another mark there reads: by Bowmar.
The socket for the AC adapter is on the right side. The back of the calculator has a compartment for a battery as well as two rubber feet. The calculator has no serial number.
The object and a sheet of instructions fit in a cardboard box. A mark on the back of the box reads: math mate by Bowmar (/) The first inexpensive calculator (/) good enough to be called Bowmar. (/) Fully featured (/) Quick and easy to operate (/) Full one year guarantee. Further text reads: Printed in USA. Another mark reads: Assembled in Mexico. A sticker attached to the back of the box reads: CONTINENTAL MICROSYSTEMS (/) P. O. Box 1964 (/) NOGALES, AZ. 85621l.
Bowmar introduced a calculator in 1971, and had successful sales in 1972 and 1973. Assembly began in Mexico in mid-1974. The company went bankrupt in February 1975 and stopped building calculators in the middle of that year. By 1976 distribution of Bowmar calculators had been taken over by Continental Microsystems. A September 14, 1975, advertisement indicates that the Math Mate then was on sale for $14.77.
Compare 1986.0988.106.
William D. Smith, "Hand-Held Calculators: Tool or Toy?" New York Times, August 20, 1972, p. F7.
George Lazarus, "Bowmar's calculators add up sales, potential," Chicago Tribune, June 27, 1973, p. E10.
"Business Briefs," New York Times, August 28, 1974, p. 43.
Leonard Wiener, "Pocket calculator industry in ferment," Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1974, p. C9.
"Bowmar to drop its calculator line," Chicago Tribune, p. C9.
Leonard Wiener, "Calculator's answers are right - it says so," Chicago Tribune, June 16, 1976, p. C11.
Washington Post, September 14, 1975, p. 136.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
date made
ca 1975
Physical Description
plastic (case; display; keys material)
metal (circuitry material)
paper (box; instructions material)
overall: 1 in x 2 1/2 in x 5 1/8 in; 2.54 cm x 6.35 cm x 13.0175 cm
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Handheld Electronic Calculators
Computers & Business Machines
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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