Heh, I've tried a mechanical adding-multiplying machine once: the Math Institute has one and I could try it out once. It worked very nice.
The machin has three long numerical displays: one for the multiplicand, one for the multiplier, and one for the product. You can set up the multiplier with a series of knobs, one for each digit. Then, you rotate the big handle on the sid of the machine, which increments the multiplier by one and the accumulator by the multiplicand. Then you can shift some part of the machine so that you can increment the multiplier by 10 instead of 1, or 100 etc, and then the accumulator will increase with the multiplicand shifted left with the correct amount. The accumulator and the multiplier can be reset independently, so that you can calculate sums of products. The handle also works backwards, for subtraction. There's also a bell that rings on carry/borrow (Update: the bell is useful for division).
All in one, it seemed wonderful for me that you could do all those calculations without electronic parts,
even when I understoodd how it worked.
I've also tried a logarithmic scale and some typewriters, but I'm too young to having used any of these regularly.
Hey, I'm too young for even computer programs (not music) stored on magnetic tape, the Commodore machines I used had floppy disks.
Oh, and if anyone wants to read more of these nostalgic stories, read the comments on the poll My first computer was.... (I didn't comment there, but my first one was a 386 pc.)
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