Radio Shack EC-4000 Programmable Handheld Electronic Calculator

Radio Shack EC-4000 Programmable Handheld Electronic Calculator

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Radio Shack introduced this programmable handheld calculator in its 1978 catalog as “The First Low-Cost High-Powered Programmable.” It was manufactured in the United States by Texas Instruments and initially cost $79.95.
The calculator has a black plastic case and an array of forty rectangular plastic keys. The ten digit keys take on only one meaning; most of the other keys have one meaning written on the key top and another inscribed above it. Programs of up to fifty steps could be entered into the calculator, although there is no provision for saving them.
A mark above the keyboard reads: Radio Shack (/) Programmable. Next to it is a switch. Behind it is a twelve-character red LED display that shows results to eight significant digits. A jack for a power adapter is on the right side. An owner’s mark scratched on the back edge of the calculator reads: Kim Tracy. A sticker at the top of the back reads: Radio Shack CAT. NO. 65-650 (/) EC-4000 PROGRAMMABLE CALCULATOR (/) CUSTOM MFD. IN USA FOR RADIO SHACK, A DIVISION OF (/) TANDY CORPRATION, FORT WORTH, TEXAS 76102. Text molded into the back below the sticker reads: SERIAL NO. (/) 2143603 ATA2679 (/) ASSEMBLED IN USA.
Below the serial number is a compartment for a battery pack. A sticker on the battery pack reads: BATTERY PACK BP-7 (/) See Owner’s Manual for description (/) and replacement. Use no substitutes.
Below the battery pack is a list of U.S. patent numbers assigned to Texas Instruments that protect the calculator. The numbers range from 3819921 (1972) to 4014013 (1975).
The calculator has a black power adaptor marked: Radio Shack (/) AC ADAPTER FOR (/) MODEL EC-4000 (/) CAT. NO. 65-650.
Compare to the TI-57 calculator (1987.0435.02).
Tracy, the former owner and donor of the calculator, obtained it as a high school student growing up on a farm in Missouri. He dates his acquisition to 1978 to 1979, for a price of about $80.00. Radio Shack catalogs list it from 1978 until 1981, with a price of $79.95 in 1978 and 1979 and $59.95 thereafter. Programming the calculator solidified Tracy’s desire to follow a career in computer science.
The overall dimensions listed depend on the position of the cord.
Radio Shack, A Tandy Company, 1978 Catalog No. 289, p. 147, accessed October 3, 2014, at Price listed $79.95.
Radio Shack, A Tandy Company, 1979 Catalog No. 302, p. 130, accessed October 3, 2014, at Price listed $59.95.
Radio Shack, A Tandy Company, 1980 Catalog No. 315, p. 168, accessed October 3, 2014, at Price listed is $59.95.
Radio Shack, A Tandy Company, 1981 Catalog No. 328, p. 164, accessed September 22, 2014 at Price listed is $59.95.
Accession file.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
date made
Texas Instruments
place made
United States
Physical Description
plastic (case; cord; keys; display cover; adapter cover material)
metal (keyboard; circuitry material)
paper (sticker material)
overall: 8 cm x 14 cm x 21 cm; 3 5/32 in x 5 1/2 in x 8 9/32 in
calculator: 3.7 cm x 7.7 cm x 14.6 cm; 1 15/32 in x 3 1/32 in x 5 3/4 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Kim W. Tracy
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'm glad to see my calculator appear here. This calculator had a significant influence on my decision to become a computer scientist and as you can see it was heavily used. I programmed about everything possible for it, given its limited number of instructions.

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