Texas Instruments SR-10 Handheld Electronic Calculator

Texas Instruments SR-10 Handheld Electronic Calculator

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This is an example of the first model of a scientific calculator marketed by Texas Instruments. The handheld electronic calculator has a black and ivory-colored plastic case with an array of twenty-three plastic keys. Twenty-one of these are square, the 0 and the total keys are rectangular. In addition to ten digit keys, a decimal point key, a total key, and four arithmetic function keys, the calculator has a reciprocal key, a square key, a square root key, a change sign key, an enter exponent key, a clear key, and a clear display key. Text above the keyboard, just below the display and to the left, reads: SR10. Behind the keyboard is a 12-digit LED display. Numbers larger than eight digits are displayed in scientific notation. A mark behind the display reads: TEXAS INSTRUMENTS. An on/off switch is right and slightly above this.
The back edge of the calculator has a jack for a recharger/adapter. A sticker on the back gives extensive instructions. It also gives the serial number SR10 275812.
Unscrewing screws near the top and bottom of the back reveals the workings of the calculator. It has a total of five chips. The largest of these is marked TMS 0120 NC (/) C7333. This is a TMS0120 chip, manufactured in mid-1973. Also in the case is space for three AA nickel-cadmium batteries.
The leather zippered case has both a loop and a hook for attaching the calculator to a belt. It also holds an instruction pamphlet entitled Texas Instruments electronic slide rule calculator SR-10, copyrighted 1973. A warranty registration on the inside of the back page indicates these instructions were originally sold with an SR-10 calculator with serial number 170334, purchased on September 27, 1973.
Texas Instruments described the SR-10 as an “electronic slide rule calculator,” hence the “SR” in the name. The first version of the device, introduced in 1972, did not have the mark SR-10 on the keyboard. The second version (introduced 1973) and the third (introduced 1975) did. This is an example of the first version. According to Ball & Flamm, it initially sold for $149.95.
Compare 1986.0988.351, 1986.0988.354, and 1986.0988.356.
Guy Ball and Bruce Flamm, The Complete Collector’s Guide to Pocket Calculators, Tustin, CA: Wilson/Barnett, 1997, p. 153.
The online Datamath Museum includes versions of the SR-10 from 1972, 1973, and 1975.
Object Name
electronic calculator
Other Terms
electronic calculator; Handheld
date made
Date made
Texas Instruments
place made
United States: Texas, Dallas
Physical Description
plastic (case, keys material)
metal (circuitry, zipper material)
paper (instruction manual, sticker material)
overall: 1 1/2 in x 3 in x 6 1/4 in; 3.81 cm x 7.62 cm x 15.875 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John B. Priser
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Family & Social Life
Computers & Business Machines
Handheld Electronic Calculators
My Computing Device
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Used the SR-10 with a NASA contract supplier for several years prior to the first mission shuttle launch in 1981. We were responsible for every thermocouple. Two under each tile, high and low gain temps. Tested in liquid hydrogen one second and blast furnace the next second. SR-10 always by my side.
Still have my SR-10 and it still works just like it did in 1973 when I bought it for my Calculus class. Of course I have replaced the batteries over the years, but what a kick the grandkids get out of what was in my era the equal in price of a laptop today!!
In 1973, I was a 16 year old Senior at Oak Park High School, MI, when I attempted to sign up for Physics. When I was told that I could not take Physics because I was a girl, I persisted that I was taking calculus and could easily handle the math. But armed only with a slide rule that I never understood how to use, I failed my first exam. I understood the material, but calculating by hand, I couldn’t finish in time. That night I cried myself to sleep after the teacher encouraged me to drop the class (after all, I was just a girl). The next day, my father bought an SR-10. I wore it proudly on my belt through the rest of high school. I went on to get an A in Physics, graduate from MIT in Civil Engineering, become a professional Engineer and earn a PhD in Transportation from NJIT. I owe my success in part to the SR-10, which cost $150 in 1973 ($853 in 2018 dollars) and could do little more than add, subtract, divide, multiply and take square roots.
I attend church with a gentleman, a long retired electrical engineer, who worked on the TI development team in the 1960's and 1970's. He told me that he'd worked on the first handheld scientific calculator, and that one of his projects was in collection at the Smithsonian. The wonders that open to us, by only listening to our elders! I am pleased to find this, cataloged online.
It was 1973 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I was suffering through P Chem, Quantitative Analysis and Physics and wandering campus feeling superior because I had a slide rule on my belt. Enter this miracle called the SR-10. Those of us who had one could run circles around the now tragically impaired slide rule crowd. There was talk of making the SR-10 illegal as they were "unfair" I heard the Univ of Fla. Purchased about 30 of the SR-10 models to loan out to students for tests to level the playing field... Fond memories. I got a new one on Ebay a few years back - It runs beautifully. Now having nearly every major generation of processor and DOS through every generation of Windows based machine - oh my how life has changed. We now live via cloud based databases with proprietary software and real-time decision support. over 95 % of the typing is now voice recognition.,, pretty much every issue can be algorithmized. I WILL NEVER FORGET MY AMAZEMENT WHEN THE LIGHTBULB TUNED ON WITH REALIZATION OF WHAT THE SR-10 HAD STARTED.
"Are the battery packs still available for the SR-10 calculator, if not, can I purchase 3 AA NiCd batteries and make them fit?"
"My brother owned one of these his second year of high school, with the charging unit - bought it for a whopping $119.00, and he was SO proud of it. The LEDs would automatically go dark after about two minutes to preserve battery power, and eventually it had to be plugged in 100% of the time to keep it running. Did the four primary types of math, and introduced me to the concept of square roots long before learning it in 5th grade."

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