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This Day In Market History: Texas Instruments Patents Hand-Held Calculator

Wayne Duggan

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened?

On this day 45 years ago, Texas Instruments Incorporated (NASDAQ: TXN) received a patent for its hand-held aluminum calculator.

Where The Market Was

The Dow closed at 828.85. The S&P 500 traded at around 88.98. Today, the Dow is trading at 26,727 and the S&P 500 is trading at 2,945.

What Else Was Going On In The World?

In 1974, the U.S. inflation rate ballooned to 11.3 percent. The 3-million-year-old remains of hominid “Lucy” were discovered in Ethiopia, the oldest known remains of a human ancestor ever discovered at the time. The average price of a new house was $34,900.

TI’s Patented Hand-Held Calculator

TI engineers Jack Kilby, Jerry Merryman and James Van Tassel were granted the patent for TI’s new hand-held calculator in June of 1974. The model was made of aluminum and weighed 2 pounds 13 ounces. The calculator could perform addition, subtraction multiplication and division, and TI initially priced the device starting at around $85.


The SR-50 was Texas Instruments first scientific pocket calculator (1974) (ArnoldReinhold, Wikiemedia)

Kilby has initially nicknamed the prototype for the calculator “Cal Tech,” and its output was generated on a paper tape. Prior to “mini” calculators such as these, electronic calculators had been large heavy desktop machines containing hundreds of transistors and several circuit boards.

Kilby was best known for his invention of the monolithic integrated circuit, which sparked the $219 billion global integrated circuit market. Kilby won the Nobel Prize for his work in 2000.

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