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~Once a nerd, always a nerd~
When I was around nine or ten years old, the local television station came to my home town and did an interview with local kids about what we wanted Father Christmas to bring us. Whilst the others said bears or Action Man or Barbie, I was the nerdy little kid who got broadcast on South Today (or whatever it was called) saying I hoped the big fella with the beard would bring me a calculator.
The younger members of the site will be baffled that anyone would have asked for such a thing but back in the late 1970s the first 'pocket' calculators - i.e. ones that weren't the size of a briefcase - were still new and quite exciting. This was probably the first Christmas when they had become small enough and cheap enough for a kid like me to aspire to own one. Santa was kind - I got my calculator and I loved it very much. I could spend hours writing 'hello' and 'Shell Oil' on its little screen in numbers. How times have changed. It's hard to imagine any kid these days would find a calculator in any way aspirational.
As I grew up and went through secondary school and university, I had a succession of ever more powerful and clever calculators that could do stuff I can't even remember ever needing them to do. Today my needs are much simpler. I've not done anything much more complicated than basic sums on my calculator in years and I've just taken for granted that there's always a calculator around when I need one. And if there's not, there's your laptop or phone to fall back on to add things up.
~My Canon Can~
The Canon AS-120 is my 'work' calculator. I don't actually know where it came from, who picked it, or how it found its way onto my desk but once it was there, it stayed, made itself at home and settled in. It has everything I need and not too much that I don't in a basic desk calculator. In size it's 14.5 x 10 x 3.4 cm and weighs 109g. This makes it big enough to find easily on an untidy desk but not too big or heavy to take home with me when I need to spend an evening crunching numbers. It is solar powered and works fine under the office lighting. I can only assume that solar panels in calculators have improved a lot since I was at school and they only worked if you sat next to the window on a sunny day.
The display is slightly tilted which makes it easy to read. The display panel shows up to 12 digits which is more than enough for anything for which I use it. It's a black on grey display that's bold and easy to read. The base of the calculator has two round pads that help it 'grip' the table. It won't suck to your desk like Spiderman's suckers and a small nudge will push it away but in normal use it stays put and doesn't wriggle, which is more than I can say for my Poundland calculator at home.
~On the Button~
The buttons are large enough for any fat fingered operator and there's a reassuring feel to them. When you've pushed, you know you've pushed - it just feels right. Again, more than I can say for my Poundland wonder. So what do you get in the way of buttons? Well not surprisingly 0 to 9 are there with the addition of a decimal point and a 00 key as well. Somewhat reassuringly, the layout is the same as my computer keyboard - i.e. high numbers at the top, low ones at the bottom - the opposite of a telephone key pad. I would happily strangle whichever stupid designers failed to agree on keeping phones and keyboard numbers in the same positions.
Across the top row you'll find the On button, a 'clear' button which deletes the last number but retains what you've already put in, an arrow key which enables you to delete a number digit by digit (very handy - didn't realize I had that until a few minutes ago) followed by two keys I don't recognize or understand. MU is something to do with the memory, RV appears to recall the number you entered previous to the one that's on the screen which isn't something I've ever considered needing before.
On the second row there are a bunch more memory functions that I don't use, followed by a plus to minus key that I use a lot and a GT (Grand Total) key whose function is a bit lost on me. Row three has 7-8-9 and a percentage key and a square root key. I'm the kind of person who can occasionally be amused by sitting around guessing square roots - but I try not to do it too often. The remaining keys on the lower three rows are the normal +, -, x, - and = buttons.
I know what you're thinking and you're right. I am indeed screwed if I want to calculate a circle because there's no pi. I also can't do complicated algebra but since I left university, I've barely done anything beyond working out how much concrete I'd need for a slab to stand the greenhouse on or estimating how much water I need in a quarter-circle fish pond. It's not - as the saying goes - rocket science.
There's nothing terribly memorable about my Canon AS-120. It's grey, it's dull but it's dependable. As far as I can tell, it gets the sums right every time and it records every button I push. Again, not like my little random number creator from Poundland. I have no aspirations to greater functionality that the Canon AS-120 offers me and if you need a desk calculator you can pick up one of these on Amazon for less than a fiver. And my guess would be that if you need to calculate the circumference or area of a circle or the volume of a sphere, then 3.142 will get you close enough to compensate for the absence of Pi.
I have no idea if it ever had an instruction manual as it just turned up on my desk as if left by the fairies. As for manufacturer support - bung it in the bin and buy another one.