08 August 2019

Calculator Review: Langenscheidt German Electronic Translation Machine and Calculator

It's been too long since my last calculator review. I never intended to stop doing these, but I became obsessed with vintage computers so that has consumed a majority of my life. But I've still got a huge collection of calculators and they aren't going to review themselves.
Langenscheidt German Electronic Translation Machine and Calculator. Say that thirty-eight times fast.

This is the Langenscheidt German Electronic Translation Machine and Calculator from the year 1984. It has one of the most interesting color schemes I've seen for a calculator, much like the Langenscheidt line of pocket dictionaries. It comes with a beautiful leather case emblazoned with a golden L.
Quite luxurious.
The buttons are the rubber chiclet style that went out of style the moment they became a style. Calculators are basically the only device that can get away with still using them, but that's only because society is dumb and allows it to happen. I hate the way these feel, but they work fine.

With box, leather case, and manual.
This calculator has only basic mathematical functionality, but that's clearly not its selling point. It's a German to English and English to German translator as well. The idea is you can carry this device around instead of one of those small books that fit in your pocket.

To translate a word, you set the toggle switch to G->E or E->G. I wanted to translate the word "calculator" to German, so I set it to E->G. From here, you press the ABC1 button until you get to the first letter of the word you want. Then you press ABC2 and keep pressing it until you get to the second letter of the word you want. Then you press the arrow button next to that until the word you want to translate comes up. Finally, when you see the word, press TRANS to get the translation.
The word "calculate" in German, apparently.
It's extremely tedious and impractical. There is no way this would work better than a small book that you could just flip through pages until you find what you need.

The contrast toggle switch.
Another unique feature of this calculator is a toggle switch on the back to change the contrast. It's pretty useless because all it does is darken or lighten the color behind the text and doesn't do anything to the text itself.
Back cover removed.
To get to the batteries, two screws on the back need to be removed. The entire back panel has to be separated to get to the three LR44 batteries. This exposes the rather complex innards, which is neat for me, but this would be a pain to do in the middle of very slowly translating a conversation.

The novelty factor of the Langenscheidt Translation Machine is high, and I'm happy to have this in my collection. But in terms of practicality, it's atrocious.

Langenscheidt made translation calculators for other languages, but the company has discontinued this line of calculators.

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