Where We’re Calculating, We Don’t Need No Seven Segments!

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There have been many attempts at electronic numerical display technology over the decades since the first incandescent bulb or neon tube flickered into life at the command of a primordial computer, but the lowest common denominator has remained the humble seven segments. Here it might end, but for [Ken Yap] who has taken inspiration from a 1960s Sharp calculator to re-create a numerical display with only six segments.

This seemingly impossible feat is achieved by having six curved segments arranged as a figure-eight, which can render all the digits after a fashion, but which soon reveals why the extra segment made an appearance. The numbers that are made up of curves look good enough, but the straight lines in the 1, 4, and 7, are compromised by the diagonal, and the zero is curiously small at half the height.  You can read the digits, but it takes getting used to.

What made sense to reduce the complexity of 1960s electronics is only a fascinating curiosity in 2020, but we maybe won’t see these displays appearing too often. You can take a look at it in the video below the break, and if you’re curious about the Sharp calculator which inspired it then you can take a look at its page in the Vintage Calculator Museum.

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