Sunday, November 24, 2019


Please see below for the script I used:

Hello there. It shouldn’t need this much effort, but even a gigantic piece of technology can still tell me that two plus two is four.

So, this is the Sports Direct giant calculator. For those outside the UK, Sports Direct is a sporting goods and fashion retailer, towards the cheaper end of the market, but they are also the owners of sporting labels like Slazenger, Everlast and Lonsdale. They are also in the business of selling giant novelty items with their logo plastered on them, like mugs, bowls, and calculators. It cost me all of four pounds to buy, and the cashier smiled when I asked for one – they were on a peg behind her, so I couldn’t just reach over and take one. You can buy similar calculators without the logo, but it’s one more thing with “Sports Direct” on it, and that’s why it exists. Nothing else about this says “sport,” does it?

Despite the size this is still a calculator, working like any other... to a point. You’ll notice that there are no memory functions, but that isn’t unusual. I have an old Sharp calculator, made in 1974, that doesn’t have them either. If you really needed it, you could always just write the number down. However, one thing isn’t quite right. You can usually enter more numbers than the screen can handle, but still add, subtract, multiply or divide the number on screen. On the Sports Direct giant calculator, if you enter too many numbers, an error message happens, and you can’t do anything more. You have to reset, and start again. Remember, no more than twelve digits, and you’ll be fine.

The packaging says the calculator is designed for people with a visual impairment. Nice try. More seriously-minded solutions use braille, or an electronic voice to read the display, while most smartphones can use voice activation without using a single button. Larger machines include teaching aids made for overhead projectors, to display a calculator on a wall, and while you can buy giant scientific calculators that can display graphs, the price may give you pause.

What surprised me most about this is its build quality. How does something that only cost four pounds need twenty screws? An A4-sized calculator can’t need the circuit board the size of a PC motherboard? Trust me for owning a screwdriver.

(While I do that, I should mention that, if you are selling an old calculator on eBay, it’s all fine saying it comes from a smoke-free home, but please also say if you are a smoke-filled home. I opened up this old Canon calculator to clean it, and the circuit board stank! Was someone smoking through it or something?)

(Just to say, I’ve nearly finished.)

(Oh, sorry.)

I was not expecting a piece of cardboard but, taking it out, you can see how it shields the contacts, which are printed onto a piece of paper. These connect up to a tiny central circuit board, to which the screen, battery and solar panel are attached. There are more elegant versions of this – this Casio fx-100d, for example, attaches its single chip to a piece of plastic, and that’s pretty much it. On the other hand, it also does a few more things.

Thank you for watching. As ever, the nostalgia culture crisis continues at [], and I shall now screw this back together.

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