23 November 2018

Review: APF Mark 65

It's Friday, so that means another calculator reviewed on Facebook! As always, I will post the original review below this one if you're interested in seeing whether my opinion changed.
APF Mark 65

As my calculator collection has grown and I've taken them apart, cleaned them, and even repaired a few, my tastes in specific features become more refined. Some calculators are absolutely fantastic and others only exist in my collection because I refuse to just throw them away. Then there are the ones like today's calculator. I don't really know what to make of it.

The Al & Phil Friedman (APF) Mark 65 was released no later than 1977, and, like most electronics from that decade, looks like it was made in that decade. While Wednesday's HP 10bII review mentioned it went for this aesthetic, the Mark 65 didn't even have to try. It just is 1970s.

I mean, look at it. The brushed aluminum face plate, the weird combination of white, orange, and not-so-brown buttons, and the care-free use of a different font for everything- it was a different time, man.

But also check out that bulk. You just don't see that in a modern calculator. This was to accommodate a beautiful-as-always teal-greenish-blue fluorescent display and thick pinches of solder all over the main board. And of course this runs on three AAA batteries and I should feel lucky it doesn't require more.

I want to love this calculator, I really do. But sadly, it only looks great. It feels miserable. Every component of the device is made of cheap material and it feels way lighter than it looks. The buttons and switch feel fine, but without a weighty feel to the rest of it, I'm just disappointed.
Cheap materials are easily ruined.

The cheap plastic is most evident in the battery cover. I feel like I'm going to snap it in half every time I try to put it back in place. This plastic is the type that will break into sharp pieces if dropped onto a hard surface. It's a shame, really.

This is the kind of calculator that looks great on display next to other vintage devices. There's no doubt it belongs among them. But my dream calculator museum would place this calculator behind glass not to protect it from patrons, but to protect the patrons from knowing how crappy this thing actually feels.

I found this calculator at Goodwill for like $3.99. As someone who has had hands-on experience with many devices, I can assure you that the APF Mark 65 is not worth seeking out. If you're sold entirely on how it looks, just wait for an upcoming review of a similar, but far superior device.

Internal Components

I wanted to completely disassemble this device, but screws beneath soldered components prevented this.

Here's the original Facebook review:

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