The Oughtred Society

Published November 23, 2018

Today I would like to call my readers attention to the good work being done by the volunteer members of the Oughtred Society in keeping alive the venerable history of the slide rule. The birth of both the atomic age and the first space age was achieved by scientists and engineers who relied almost exclusively upon slide rules to do their mathematical calculations. The Apollo astronauts even carried aluminum Pickell Model 600ES slide rules with them on their journeys to the moon between 1968 and 1972. Both Wernher von Braun and Albert Einstein preferred wooden Albert Nestler 23R-3 Rietz slide rules. In America the wooden Keuffel and Esser Model 4081-3 Log Log Duplex Decitrig rules became the standard. My own first slide rule in high school was the less expensive plastic Sterling Decimal Trig Log-Log. By 1974 the emergence of inexpensive electronic programmable scientific calculators doomed slide rules extinction. The legacy of the slide rule ought not be forgotten. A wide variety of circular slide rules were still being used as flight computers when I attended a flight school as recently as 1977.

The most recent annual meeting of the Oughtred Society was held on April 21, 2018 at the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. Founded in 1991, The Oughtred Society is named for William Oughtred (1574-1660) who invented the first slide rule in 1622. He also is credited with first introducing our modern symbol for multiplication and the abbreviations sin and cos for the sine and cosine functions. The Oughtred Society publishes the Journal of the Oughtred Society  biannually in the Spring and Fall and also a number of other publications including The Oughtred Society Slide Rule Reference Manual that is now in its second edition. Annual dues are modest ahe Membership Secretary is Clark McCoy, 9 Stevens Court, Roseville, CA 95678 and can be reached by email at oughtredsociety@comcast.net