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Collections from science
A showcase of slide rules, calculators and computing instruments which transformed our ability to do complex calculations, from the 19th century to the beginning of modern computing.

In the 19th century, two types of mathematical instruments – the slide rule and calculating machine – transformed scientific, engineering, navigation and business calculations. In use until the 1970s, the rise of electronic calculators and computers brought the end to the mechanical devices. Computation power was needed to manipulate big data for our complex world. 

The objects on display demonstrate these changing technologies.

A related exhibit of optical instruments is on display in the Multipurpose Room (Level 3).


The exhibition runs until mid-2021.


Featured image (top of the page): SILLIAC computer component, Physics Department, University of Sydney, 1954–1968, SC1991.11

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