Sharp EL-5808 Handheld Electronic Calculator

This handheld electronic calculator combined Sharp’s thin calculator design (keys being replaced by a membrane) with an array of scientific functions. The calculator has a metal case. The membrane is divided into thirty-five rectangular segments, with an additional five round segments across the top row. In addition to the usual digit, arithmetic function, change sign, decimal, and total “keys,” there are eighteen keys which can assume different actions if the “F” key is pressed. These relate to memory, statistical functions, trigonometric and inverse trigonometric functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, square roots and cube roots, and conversion from polar to rectangular coordinates and vice versa. Pressing the sensor key causes a tone to sound whenever a section is pressed. Behind the membrane is an LCD display which shows up to eight digits in a mantissa and two digits in an exponent.
A mark at the base of the calculator reads: SHARP (/) SCIENTIFIC CALCULATOR EL-5808. Text on the back reads: ELECTRONIC CALCULATOR (/) EL-5808. It also reads: SER. No. (/) 91001503. It also reads: SHARP CORPORATION (/) MADE IN JAPAN. Two silver oxide batteries are built into the calculator.
The calculator has a black plastic case marked on the outside: SHARP (/) ELECTRONIC CALCULATOR. It includes a warning against carrying the calculator in a back pocket, lest the glass break. The calculator and an instruction manual fit in a cardboard box.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1978, p. S13X. Calculator advertised as regularly priced at $39.95, on sale for $29.96.
[Advertisement], Washington Post, February 24, 1979, p. F14. Sharp EL-5808 advertised as regularly priced at $39.95, on sale for $29.95.
Sharp, Sharp Compet Scientific Calculator Model EL-5808 Instruction Manual.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
date made
Sharp Corporation
Physical Description
metal (case material)
plastic (membrane; carrying case material)
glass (display material)
paper (manual; box 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
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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