ID this game/toy/edumawhatzit from the 70s or 80s
February 6, 2013 4:13 AM   Subscribe

I had a toy/game/math thing when I was young that I'd like to identify and possibly get a replacement or alternate version of. It was a plastic box that taught basic math skills. I hope my fuzzy memories spur your fuzzy memories into a resolution.

This is all from my memories so bear with me. The toy was red (of this I am sure but there could have been other colors made) plastic and was somewhere around a 10 inch cube in total size. The basic design was reminiscent of an ADM-3a or similar terminal. The display was made up of a few 14-segment LEDs that could do numbers, crude letters, and very simple animations like spinning around while it waited for your answer. It had a calculator-like keypad that for input and only the LED display (and sound? I can't remember) for output.

The basic idea of this toy was that you could learn math through games or use it as a calculator. I remember that it ran on batteries but also had a jack for external power which I don't think we ever had.

I would have had this in about 1980. It may have been a bit older but not much newer than that.

Do you remember this thing or something like it that might point me in the right direction?
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Speak and Math?
posted by empath at 4:30 AM on February 6, 2013

Was it a Speak and Math? that's the first thing that came to my mind, but may not be right.
posted by MultiFaceted at 4:33 AM on February 6, 2013

Was it a Little Professor?
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:12 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It wasn't the Speak and Math or Little Professor though I remember those well. This was shaped more like a computer terminal and from my memory was less advanced and less of a polished design than those two.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 5:53 AM on February 6, 2013

You may want to look through scans of the Sears Wishbook from 1983 (as well as other catalogs). Might awaken a memory...
posted by kuanes at 7:42 AM on February 6, 2013

Was it the Tomy Tutor Play Computer?
posted by Kriesa at 7:59 AM on February 6, 2013

Are you sure it wasn't the more calculator-like MathMate or similar? Did it have Snoopy on it?
posted by jessamyn at 8:10 AM on February 6, 2013

Best answer: Number Cruncher?
posted by collectallfour at 8:20 AM on February 6, 2013

Response by poster: It's not the Tomy Tutor Play computer, but that's much closer to the shape and look of it - though the one I'm remembering was more bland.

jessamyn - it's not the Snoopy calculator, but my sister had one of those and it was pretty fun.

I have actually looked through more Sears Wishbooks and Radio Shack catalogs than I'd like to admit trying to track this silly thing down. I've been looking on and off for a few years and I am just hoping somebody else remembers this thing.

I really have no idea why this has any importance to me but it does. Thanks for the answers so far.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:24 AM on February 6, 2013

Best answer: The form factor + LED display (not a grey liquid crystal display) makes me suspect it's an early VTech model. I've found the following but they don't seem like a perfect match:
* 1986 Vtech Number Cruncher
* 1987 Vtech "Smart Start Learning Math"
* 1986 Talking Computron
* 1980 Vtech Lesson One

(I've also spent way too much time looking through Hand Held Museum and it's linked pages, so I'll stop now.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:29 AM on February 6, 2013

Response by poster: Oooh! That Vtech Number Cruncher is very close! It sparks a bunch of memories for me. I'm quite sure what I'm thinking of is an earlier version of that. Thanks collectallfour and ceribus peribus.

Luckily that Hand Held Museum link is blocked at my office and too hard to use on my phone or I'd be wasting a bunch of taxpayer money this afternoon I think.

I had previously thought of Vtech but when I had looked, their stuff always seemed too bright and plasticy. This one does too, but the keypad layout and display look too close to be a coincidence.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:45 AM on February 6, 2013

The Computron?
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:32 PM on February 6, 2013

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