Date of introduction:  December 1980 Display technology:  LCD
New price:   Display size:  8
Size:  4.6" x 2.6" x 0.35"
 116 x 66 x 9 mm3
Weight:  1.9 ounces, 54 grams Serial No:  271072
Batteries:  n.a.  Date of manufacture:  wk 51 year 1980
AC-Adapter:   Origin of manufacture:  Spain (MCS)
Precision:  8 Integrated circuits:  TP0314
Memories:  1    
Program steps:   Courtesy of:  Joerg Woerner

In February 2024 fellow calculator collector Álvaro from Spain surprised us with an email that he located a rare calculator on the classified listings website Wallapop that seemed to be a rebranded TI-1030. Álvaro was not only kind enough to broker the purchase for us but even shipping the featured UNIVERSAL Computer to a friend in Germany who aggregates our European calculator acquisitions. Thanks! And now, about six weeks later we are sitting in front of this unusual "Computer" with its Roman numerals and try to fully understand the product.

The featured UNIVERSAL Computer with the Date code 5180 MCS was obviously manufactured by Texas Instruments in Spain. Comparing the label area of the UNIVERSAL Computer with a TI-1071 Basic Calculator manufactured on the same assembly line shows the first surprise: The mold of the housing was altered in a way that some information is missing, namely "Texas Instruments", "electronic calculator", the list of some calculator related "US Patents" and the "Assembled In" wording.

Dismantling the featured UNIVERSAL Computer reveals another surprise, it uses not only the printed circuit board (PCB) of the TI-1071 but even its TP0314 single-chip calculator circuit. Consequently did we expect a direct mapping of the Roman numerals with the TI-1071 keyboard functions and started some calculations. And yes, [DIS] = [=], [I] = [+], [II] = [−], [III] = [×], [IV] = [÷] and [VI] = [√x]. But the [V] key didn't register [pi] and using the three keys covered by the UNIVERSAL Computer logo resulted in a functional [1/x] operation but the [x2] calculation failed.

A further examination of the keyboard assembly quickly disclosed a minor modification of the keys in the right two columns of the top two rows, explaining the observed behavior of UNIVERSAL Computer.

We certainly understand the technology of this unique UNIVERSAL Calculator manufactured in 1980 by Texas Instruments in Spain but we definitely do not understand its intended purpose. We assume that the featured product was just a demonstrator before the actual design of the actual single-chip calculator circuit was finalized. This might explain the Date code 7824 (June 1978) of the used TP0314 chip in a product assembled in December 1980.

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© Joerg Woerner, April 5, 2024. No reprints without written permission.