About this Web Site

In the fall of 1972 as a sophomore in high school, I was first taught to use the slide rule which, in addition to handbooks of mathematical tables, was used in chemistry and physics courses through my senior year. By December 1974, just over two years later, I never needed to use a slide rule again, having received my new Texas Instruments SR-50 calculator for Christmas! Of course I did still use a slide rule on occasion as they were easy to carry, didn’t have batteries, and were still required in one or two of my high school courses. But, when it came to regular homework and exam problems during college, the SR-50 and all of the other readily available calculators on the market made my use of a slide rule obsolete. After college I kept my old, plastic Sterling Decimal Trig Log-Log slide rule from high school in the back of my desk drawer at work, moving it around the country over the decades, but almost never taking it out for a spin (or a slide).

Thirty-five years after high school my wife and I found ourselves wandering about in antique stores and I eventually noticed that slide rules had become a real collectible item. (Who knew?) After I picked up a few – many of which I had never seen and knew little about – I began to realize the complexity of many of the scales, the precision construction, and the historical significance of their development. The only reason I had never seen more than the most basic slide rules was because the need to use them evaporated just as I was becoming a professional. But now, as a scientist and educator nearing retirement, I slowly began to gather more and more specimens and read about their history. As one of the last to be formally schooled on their operation and use, I wanted to build up a collection that could tell a story about these rules and this has led to the current document. Hopefully this web site can introduce others to the history and use of the slide rule and to the fun of collecting.

-Mike Syphers