In the 1970s, calculators weren't just for calculating. They were luxury items. In a world before iPods and iPhones, calculators were the first aspirational personal electronics.

Calculators 1968-1983 showcases these remarkable design objects, along with stories behind why they look and operate the way they do. And how, in just a few decades, one of the world's most important products went from indispensable to irrelevant.

The exhibit highlights more than 100 calculators, all beautiful examples of late 20th Century design.

Learn more

The Oregonian did an deep dive on Calculators 1968-1983 via a print article (Portland exhibit celebrates vintage calculators as status symbols of their time - August 10, 2023) and produced this accompanying video:

Upcoming events

Our last pop-up event was August 18-20, 2023. We'd like to do our next pop-up in September 2024.

Sign up for our mailing list to be notified about all future events!

A note from the curator

I've had a fascination with calculators since the 1970s, when the specimens my dad brought home from his office were the only computer-like things I could get my tiny hands on. The luxurious buttons, the flickering displays... magic. That is, until personal computers came along, and pushed calculators out of the way.

Then in 2015 — during a fit of nostalgia — I ordered a beautiful earth-toned 1976 Texas Instruments 5100. It looked so great on my desk that I started craving more. And to my surprise, there were plenty more calculators to be found online: stunning, remarkable artifacts of an era that has now passed. The collection started.

I now have more than 250 calculators from this golden age of the product, 1968-1983, each chosen for its beauty and design more than any particular technical attribute. It's an incredible thrill to show them off, inviting visitors into a world filled with colors and shapes and design considerations that you simply don't find today, made for people and needs that no longer exist.

And my childhood obsession still resonates: when I'm not collecting old handheld electronics, I work on new handheld electronics in the form of Playdate, a fun and charming handheld video game system that exhibits some echoes of those very first calculators.

Greg Maletic

Still more info


Follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

Add yourself to our mailing list and you'll be notified of future events and news.

Contact us via email.

Thanks for dropping by!