National Semiconductor Novus Mathematician Handheld Electronic Calculator


In 1975, Novus, the Consumer Products branch of National Semiconductor Corporation, introduced a series of handheld electronic calculators known as the “Professionals.” As a June, 1975, advertisement in the Chicago Tribune put it, these were designed to fill the gap between “very expensive calculators offering every feature in the book” and “‘Mickey Mouse’ models which were much less costly, but which just didn’t have what it takes to do the job.” The least expensive of these calculators was The Mathematician, which initially sold for $69.95. Others in the series included the Programmable Mathematician, the Financier, the Programmable Financier, the Statistician, the Programmable Statistician, and the International Computer (later sold as the International Converter). By 1976, Novus had also introduced the Scientist and the Programmable Scientist.

This is an example of the Novus Mathematician. The calculator has a tan plastic case, thirty-two rectangular plastic keys, and a plastic display cover. At the bottom of the keyboard are ten digit keys, a decimal point key, and a clear key. To the right of these is a column of four arithmetic function keys. Depressing the F key in the upper left corner of the keyboard allows two of these keys to be used as memory keys, another one to enter degrees, and the fourth to enter radians.

Above these keys are an enter key and a variety of function keys, some of which can also assume more than one function. These include two memory keys, a change sign key, a pi key, a square root / square key, a log key, an exchange key, a power key, an exponent key, a natural log key, an inverse key, and keys for trigonometric and inverse trigonometric functions. A mark above the keyboard reads: Mathematician.

Problems are entered into the Mathematician using reverse Polish notation.

Behind the keyboard is an eight-digit red LED display. It has no provision for displaying results in scientific notation. A mark above the display reads: NOVUS. The jack for a power adapter is along the back edge and a power switch is on the left edge.

A battery compartment opens on the back of the calculator. A faint mark molded into the plastic near the top of the back reads: MADE IN U.S.A. (/) U618. This particular example lacks both a cover for the battery compartment and any stickers identifying the model and serial number.

Compare the National Semiconductor Mathematician (1986.0988.232) and the HP-21 (1987.0435.08).


“Novus 4510 Operations Guide,” online at, accessed September 8, 2014.

[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1975, p. E8. Novus Mathematician advertised as costing $69.95, Novus Financier $99.95.

[Advertisement], Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1975, p. A16. Novus 4510 advertised for $69.95.

[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1976, p. C5. Novus 4510 advertised for $29.95.

[Advertisement], Chicago Tribune, January 2, 1977, p. M8. Novus 4510 advertised for $17.00, regular price $19.88.

Date Made: 1975-1977

Maker: National Semiconductor Corporation

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New Mexico, United States

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Computers, Computers & Business Machines, Handheld Electronic Calculators


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of John B. Priser

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1986.0988.277Catalog Number: 1986.0988.277Accession Number: 1986.0988

Object Name: electronic calculator

Physical Description: plastic (case; keys; display cover material)metal (circuitry material)Measurements: overall: 1 1/4 in x 3 in x 6 in; 3.175 cm x 7.62 cm x 15.24 cm


Record Id: nmah_1305810

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