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145 × 29 × 4.5 cm

Prior to the birth of the electronic calculator in the 1970s, slide rules were the most commonly used aid to scientific and engineering calculations. As can be seen by the cover page of an old UQ exam paper they were used during physics and other mathematics related courses up until the late 1970’s. Slide rules were notable for their versatility and ease of use. This display houses just a few variations with the most noticeable of all, the giant demonstrational rule. This was used to teach students how to make calculations. Each line of a slide rule such as this has a different purpose. Lines used most often were the A, B, C, D scales for multiplication, division, squares and square roots and sines, cosines and tangents, but many slide rules carried a range of special scales.

Understandably this device was limited by the accuracy of the printed scale and the person reading it to around 3 significant figures, but this proved sufficient for designing nuclear reactors and rockets.

There exist many different forms of slide rule, some straight others circular and even helical like the Fuller slide rule. The point of having a slide rule was the ability to do multiplications and divisions quickly with minimal error. If you wish to practice using a slide rule follow the link provided and if you need help please use reference 2.

This item is part of the UQ Physics Museum Good Old days of Calculation Tour
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