Texas Instruments Dataman Handheld Electronic Calculator

Texas Instruments Dataman Handheld Electronic Calculator

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Introduced by Texas Instruments in 1977 and advertised through at least 1981, this educational toy sought to teach arithmetic to children seven years old and up. The device has a gray plastic case, designed to resemble a robot, with an array of twenty-four orange plastic keys of differing shape. These include ten digit keys, four arithmetic function keys, an equals key, a memory bank keys, an on key, an off key, and keys for various games. Games available are “Electro Flash” (for practicing mathematical tables), “Wipe Out” (for competing at solving arithmetic problems rapidly), Number Guesser (for guessing a number selected by the calculator), Force Out (for subtracting numbers – to avoid being the one who arrives at zero), and Missing Numbers (to enter unknowns in equations). A display that could flash at appropriate times is behind the keyboard.
The back of the instrument has a compartment for a nine-volt battery. Text above this reads in part: TEXAS INSTRUMENTS (/) electronic calculator.” The space for a serial number is blank. The date code is 2978. Text below this reads: ASSEMBLED IN EL SALVADOR.
The toy is in a brown plastic zippered case.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1977, p. C5. Listed among other TI products as costing $22.95, “teaches arithmetic” – “order now for early delivery.”
[Advertisement], Hartford Courant, November 6, 1977, p. 7C. Dataman “electronic learning aid” now available, selling for $19.99. Offers ‘basic math drills with design.”
“Electronic Helpers,” Chicago Tribune, Nov 17, 1978, p. D9. Mentioned as one of several toys offered for the 1978 Christmas season.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1979, p. OC_B6. On sale for $16.95.
Peter J. Schuyten, “Electronic Games a Big Winner For the Holidays...,” New York Times, November 15, 1979; p. D1. Dataman mentioned in passing. In general, chips in short supply.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1979, p. E3. Dataman selling for $19.95.
Kallan, Carla, “Electronic Games People Play: toy outlets reflect the arrival of the computer age,” Los Angeles Times, December 11, 1979, p. H1. Dataman among the educational games mentioned. Price given as $25.
[Advertisement], Hartford Courant, Dec 21, 1980, p. B13. Dataman on sale for $16.99, regularly $24.99.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1981, p. B10. Dataman on sale for $16 (or perhaps $18), regularly $25.
Texas Instruments, “The Story of Dataman,” 1977. This gives instructions. Images are available at the online Datamath museum and at other websites.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
Other Terms
electronic calculator; Handheld
date made
Texas Instruments
place made
El Salvador
Physical Description
plastic (case; keys; carrying case material)
metal (circuitry material)
overall: 1 1/8 in x 3 1/4 in x 5 3/4 in; 2.8575 cm x 8.255 cm x 14.605 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John B. Priser
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Computers & Business Machines
Handheld Electronic Calculators
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


I still have mine along with the Dataman book and it still works. It really helped me with my math skills. Great memories of my childhood.
Best toy ever. I spent hours and hours on this! I could play it in the car, in the dark, and under the covers. I loved it so much... I ended up buying another one as an adult BEFORE I had kids.
My Dad gave me a Dataman in what must have been 1976-77ish, as I was entering the 2nd Grade. This game taught me the arithmetic skills that I still use to this day and were the fundamental basis that allowed me to learn higher math. They should make a Dataman app for iphones.
We still have an original Dataman, and it still works. The grand-kids now play with it.
This was the best gift I ever received at Christmas. I was 8 years old and I wish I still had it!

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.