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Wyle Laboratories WS-01 Scientific Calculator




The Wyle Laboratories (El Segundo, CA) WS-01 calculator was the first calculator made by Wyle Labs, introduced in April of 1964. Wyle Laboratories was not in the business of calculating machines, but a few years earlier, it had acquired a company that made digital logic modules, and one of the projects that some of the employees of the acquired company were working on was an electronic calculator. Wyle Labs management decided to let the engineers go ahead and complete the calculator project, which became the Wyle WS-01. The calculator used discrete Germanium-transistor technology, but unlike many other electronic calculators of the timeframe, used a small rotating magnetic disk (similar in principle to today's hard disk drives, but it stored the equivalent about 1700 bits of data) for working register storage. This design proved somewhat unreliable due to the temperamental mechanical tolerances of the disk drive, and as a result, the WS-01 gained a bit of a poor reputation due to unreliable operation. The engineers that developed the calculator had a re-design in mind to replace the disk drive with a different memory technology. Wyle labs management funded the effort, despite being a bit concerned about investing more money in the calculator business. A follow-on calculator was developed called the WS-02, introduced in late-1964. The was a relatively minor redesign of the WS-01, replacing the disk with a magnetostrictive delay line manufactured by Digital Devices of Syosset, New York. The WS-01 and WS-02 as far is as known, looked and operated identically. The machines were not directly programmable, but with the addition of an optional optical punched card reader, operations and constants could be punched into special cards, allowing for calculations to be automated. Both the calculators used an eight-inch integrated CRT display, using an orange-yellow medium- persistance phosphor. Six lines of 24 digits were displayed, representing the content of the six registers of the calculator. The top three lines displayed the working registers (Entry[ENT], Accumulator[ACC], and Multiplier/Quotient[MQ]), followed with the next three lines showing the content of the calculator's three memory registers. The content of the registers were displayed continuously. Complex gated sine/cosine waveform digit rendition was used to maximize readability on the small display. The resulting display had a "handwritten" look to it that was both pleasing to the eye, and very legible. Along with the usual four math functions, the calculators provided single entry squaring and automatic square root. The calculator folks at Wyle Labs eventually split off to form their own calculator company with the blessings (as well as some seed capital) of Wyle Laboratories management. The company they formed was Computer Design Corporation, also later known as Compucorp. For more information, see the article on the The History of Compucorp

Note that the museum is currently only looking for the Wyle Labs WS-01 calculator, not the WS-02. The Model/Serial Number tag may have differing ways of representing the model number. It could be "WS-1", "WS-01", or "WS-I". Any Wyle Labs calculator with a model number matching any of these is of interest to the museum.

Punched Card Reader for Wyle Scientific Calculators


Program Punched Card (Front/Back) for Wyle Scientific Calculator (Click Image for Larger View)
Punched Cards donated by Gene McGough

Each pre-scored punched card holds 12 program instruction steps. Each card has 40 columns, of which one column (column 19) is pre-punched for sensing by the card reader. Click on image for a detailed view of the card. Cards can be punched with the tip of a ball-point pen or with an IBM Port-A-Punch.
Wyle "Scientific" Specifications

Manufacturer: Wyle Laboratories
Model Number: WS-01 Scientific
Introduction: April, 1964
Manufactured In: USA, El Segundo, California
Original Price: $3950 (Calculator Only), $4350 w/Card Reader for Programming
Weight: 50 Pounds
Size: 22 1/2" Wide, 19 3/4" Deep, 10 1/4" High
Power Requirement: 160 Watts, 110V AC, 60Hz
Display Technology: CRT Display, Gated Sine/Cosine Waverform Generated Digits, Six registers of 24-digits
Logic Technology: Transistorized (Germanium) logic with rotating magenetic disk for register storage
Digits of Capacity: 24
Decimal Modes: Fixed at 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 21 digits behind decimal
Arithmetic Logic: Unusual methodology using specialized registers for various functions
Math Functions: Four Function plus square root
Memories: Three General Purpose Storage Registers
Performance (Mfg. Stated): Multiply, Divide & Square Root times vary with operands and decimal point setting
Add/Subtract: 4.8mS
Multiply/Divide: Less than 1 second
Square Root: Less than 1 second
Features: Programmable via optional PC-01 Punched Card reader

Advertising: "More than a calculator...Almost a computer..." [211K]
Documentation: The Wyle Scientific Instruction Manual [PDF, 20 Pages, 768KB]

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