Office Nostalgia Revisited


I wrote a while ago about how much I missed working with a physical stack of paper. Back in the dead tree days, it was so much easier to know where you stood in your workday. If, by 3:00PM, there was still more paper on the left side of my desk than the right (I'm a lefty), I knew I was in for a long day.

Today I miss my old calculator. You know the one. The old, boxy tape calculators that were the staple of every proper desk. Loud enough to wake the neighbours and heavy enough to take out a burglar. Do an image search for bookkeeping and it'll be on the first page.

The sound was equal parts mid-90's IBM keyboard and dot-matrix printer. Show this monstrosity to anyone born after 1989 and you'll be hard pressed to convince them of its merits. I, however, miss these dearly. Just like the big stack of receipts casting shadows on my desk, these old calculators made it feel like you were getting real work done. If you spent a full morning crunching numbers, you would be left with a mile-long coil of paper, a cramped up hand, and a light ringing in your ears.

Unfortunately, there is no way I can justify using one today. Instead of cranking away on a loud keyboard to add up a row of totals, I just write a =SUM() string and hit enter.

Before you email me...yes, I know there are "tape calculator" apps. No, they aren't the same thing.

Here's my ideal scenario. I want a heavy tape calculator. No need to MacBook Air it for me. Make it thick beige plastic with full size buttons. Now add a USB connection and let it work both ways. I want it to work as a laptop numpad AND let it print directly to a role of paper too. Sure, there can be a switch to turn that off, but I want the option to have my totals go directly into Excel and still have that hard copy when I'm done.

Please tell me someone has already done this. Yeah, I could Google it, but it's late and I'm too tired to bother. I'm sure there's a 27-step Instructables article on how to make your own. I can toss it into Evernote with the 436 other projects I swear I'll get around to someday. Until then, I'll just sit here reminiscing about the "good old days".

Eric Matthews

I'm a bookkeeper, husband, dad, music junkie, and general tech geek. When I'm a bookkeeper, I focus on cloud bookkeeping. I write at, which helps bookkeepers and business owners move their books online. I work with apps like FreshBooks, Xero, Kashoo, Wave, and QuickBooks Online.

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