Slow, modern Heptameron story eleven XI

The first electronic calculator I remember, and the only one I remember seeing or using for years, was my mother’s. It folded in half on a plastic leather hinge and I think was a Casio SL-100B. I remember the folding hinge getting two cracks on each end, leaving these little tabs that I don’t remember ever trying to pull on.

It was solar powered with no memory, so had no real way to damage it. I played with it often to see what I could do to get the “E” to show up. Dividing by zero was easy, I think after that I found out I could keep multiplying things by large things and that would do it, and at last, taking the square root of a negative.

The best memory I have of it is putting in some huge number (it had 8 digits if it was an SL-100B, so 99,999,999 was the highest it went) and repeatedly pushing √ until I got to 1. I remember the numbers would fall rapidly, then become 1.0000something, and after falling below 1.000,000,050, became just “1.”.

This was more entertaining than multiplying things to reach an overflow because I didn’t have to come up with another number as multiplier, I just put in the initial number and watched it change with “√” until it reached the unchanging “1.”. In this, I now realized, I had a zero-player game, similar to “Conway’s Game of Life“: pick an initial state (99,999,999) and the rules (“√”) and everything in every turn afterward is unavoidably known (fixed value) and the same (no randomness or chance [stochasticity?]).

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A hopefully entertaining blogger, frequently of technical things, but some artistic commentary too.

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