Bowmar 901B Handheld Electronic Calculator

Bowmar 901B Handheld Electronic Calculator

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This handheld electronic calculator has a gray and charcoal case and an array of black "Klixon" keys. Such keys have a design trademarked by Texas Instruments and make a distinctive click when pressed. In addition to ten digit keys and one decimal point key, the calculator has four keys for arithmetic functions. One serves as a total key for addition, another as a difference key for subtraction. The top of the keyboard has a constant switch, a D key for recalling the display (which turns off after fifteen seconds), a clear entry key, and a red clear key. The on/off switch is behind the clear key and the eight-digit red LED display behind this. A cord for recharging the battery attachs at the back of the top. (This example has no cord.)
The back has four plastic feet. A metal plate there gives operating instructions. Text near the bottom of it reads: BOWMAR MODEL 901 B (/) SER. Mo 203295 (/) BOWMAR/ALI , INC ACTON, MASS 01720 (/) MADE IN U.S.A. PATENT PEND. Stamped in ink on the bottom of the back are the numbers: 72 52 35.
This is the first model of an electronic calculator sold by Bomar/Ali, and the first type of commercial handheld electronic calculator manufactured in the United States.
Compare 1987.0435.025, the same calculator sold as the Craig 4501, and 1986.0988,035, the Radio Shack EC-200.
Guy Ball and Bruce Flamm, The Complete Collector's Guide to Pocket Calculators, Tustin CA: Wilson/Barnett, 1997, pp. 35–36.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
Other Terms
electronic calculator; Handheld
date made
ca 1972
place made
United States
Physical Description
plastic (case; keys; display cover material)
metal (circuitry; keyboard; plaque on back material)
overall: 1 1/2 in x 3 in x 5 1/4 in; 3.81 cm x 7.62 cm x 13.335 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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
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I purchased this for my parents in 1972 from a gift store I worked that while in school. Found it going through their belongings. Battery is dead, but it still works with the a/c power cord.
I bought mine in 1972 while major in electronic tech for $99. And it’s still working with a new battery.
Blast from the past. Bought one as an engineering student in 1971 for over $200. Display burned out after a few weeks. Went back to my slide rule.

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