National Semiconductor Novus Mathematician Handheld Electronic Calculator

National Semiconductor Novus Mathematician Handheld Electronic Calculator

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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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
date made
National Semiconductor Corporation
place made
United States: New Mexico, United States
Physical Description
plastic (case; keys; display cover material)
metal (circuitry material)
overall: 1 1/4 in x 3 in x 6 in; 3.175 cm x 7.62 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John B. Priser
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Handheld Electronic Calculators
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I purchased mine in 1977 when I was 17. I'm now 58, and still use it daily at work -- plugged in using the original adapter, and stored in the original case. I love RPN, and just want to use a simple calculator with that, so my Mathematician is what I've been using for over 40 years now.
A long time ago, I had the next model up from this (was it the Scientist?). At one point it broke and had to be sent back to the manufacturer. They sent this model as a replacement, but with far fewer functions shown on the keypad. With a little testing, it turned out that all the functions were there, but just not shown. The two models were in fact identical from a functional perspective, but the extra functions were not documented in this model.

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