31 October 2018

Review: Litronix 1102 - Spookalculator

It's Halloween, my favorite holiday of the year! For some reason this isn't a federal holiday, so I have class tonight and won't be able to take part in the festivities. But I'm going to do the next best thing: review my spookiest, scariest calculator! Prepare yourself for a few paragraphs of fright and terror as I review what I've nicknamed "The Zombie Calculator."

I found this device for $1 at a yard sale, and it looked like any normal vintage calculator. There was no hesitation to purchase it from the old lady quietly knitting something in the corner of the garage. She gave me a slight smile, and little did I know that this was probably a knowing, sinister smile...

The Litronix 1102 -
Looks like any other vintage calculator, right?
It sat in my car as I explored the other sales that day, and I hardly thought about it after making the purchase since I had found plenty of much cooler stuff. It came home with me and was added to the pile of calculators I'd need to inspect and possibly repair. That's how these stories always begin, isn't it? No one ever expects to be in a horror movie at the beginning. There's always this moment when they realize that something is not quite right.

That moment came when I finally got around to testing the Litronix 1102. It didn't come with any batteries, which explained why it felt so light, so I grabbed a handful of AAs and opened the back panel. Now, I'm no stranger to corrosion, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.
The corrosion was really bad, is what I'm saying.
I tried to install the batteries anyway, hoping to just see if the thing worked, but the metal just snapped off. There was no way I was going to be able to use this calculator without some serious effort. So I ordered some conductive tape and got to work.

The first step was disassembling the device. Two screws beneath the metal serial plate were all that held it together. I have no idea why Litronix chose to do this, because I had to remove the plate to get inside.
The corrosion on the battery terminals was severe. They needed to be completely replaced if I was going to get any sort of connection. Fortunately, I had my conductive tape and a pair of scissors, so I made some of my own.

I also covered the still-working parts just to ensure good connectivity. I placed electrical tape over parts that didn't need to be exposed to prevent unwanted conduction. 

Now it was time to see if my efforts were worth it. I put the batteries in before reassembling so I could see if the calculator would even turn on. The corrosion on the battery terminals wasn't a problem anymore, but this is a very old device. There may have been corrosion in places I couldn't get to, or there could be other problems that require more expertise to fix. 

Amazingly, it started right up! I had brought a calculator back from the dead! It was hungry for calculations, so I ran a few to satiate it. After some adjustment and refinement of the connections, it was time to put this zombie calculator back together.
It didn't fit perfectly back together due to the added material, but it holds together strong enough to live on. This scary tale of calculator repair has a happy ending after all. Or does it...?

I realize this isn't much of a review, but the video review goes into detail about what I like about it. This calculator was built in Malaysia and released in 1974, runs on four AA batteries, and is pretty good. There is another version of the 1102 that runs on three AA batteries placed horizontally, but from what I can tell, every version of the 1102 suffers from severe corrosion on the battery connectors.
Not previously mentioned: the battery cover looks terrible.

It may be back from the dead, but can we really be sure that we're safe?

Happy Halloween!


  1. I enjoyed your spooky story! Happy Halloween!

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