I always felt very proud of my father who worked on the Space Programs of the 60-70's. He did his work on a slide rule because computer time was so limited. It was not until the engineers felt they had the formulas correct that they ran the full launch process through the computers. Dad would spend weeks making sure the input code was correct, then it would take weeks for the computer to do the processing. When there was a problem all the engineers would pull out their slide rules. It was not until about 1975 when dad came home with a TI Calculator the size of a paperback book which could take the Square root to three decimal places plus having trig fuctions. Us kids were not allowed to "play" with it, meaning we couldn't do our math homework on it!
Amazing to realize that our great space program was run by engineers with slide rules. My Dad retired from his engineering job at the age of 80. Although he had kept up with the times and used the computer for his work, when he cleaned out his desk, the souvenir he kept was his trusty old 40's era slide rule. Some of the young guys at work had never seen one.
My father is in corporate finance and has always like gadgets. I remember in about 1973 when he got his first calculator and IIRC it cost over $500 which was a ton of money at that time. And then in 77 or 78 when the Radio Shack TRS 80 computers came out and they cost more than most cars did at the time. But he still has his slide rules in his desk somewhere, I doubt they even make them anymore and I'm certain that almost nobody under the age of 50 would have the slightest idea how to use them.
That's the year I left 'silicon valley' and went to work for TI. Something most people don't know:
"Jack St. Clair Kilby (November 8, 1923 June 20, 2005) was a notable American electrical engineer who co-won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000. He invented the integrated circuit in 1958 while working at Texas Instruments (TI) at about six months before Robert Noyce made the same invention at Fairchild Semiconductor."
I can really relate to your post. My dad also worked on the space program in the 60's. I remember him showing me how to do simple multiplication on his "slipstick" (what they used to call their slide rules). I doubt I could do that anymore. I was visiting my parents in AZ last month and was looking through some old stuff and found dad's slide rule. It brought back memories of watching the launces of many of the Apollo missions.