Datamath Version 1 goes Europe

The Datamath Calculator Museum opened in October 2000, without the famous Version 1 of the TI-2500 Datamath. What happened? Was there no Version 1 to be found?  
The introduction of the Datamath took place at September 21, 1972 in a limited test market somewhere in the USA. The electronic calculator developed to the best seller, actually a good situation.  
Nevertheless there was a problem: Manufacturing costs were much too high. Engineers of Texas Instruments quickly revised the original version. Instead of 6 NiCd batteries used in the first version only 4 NiCds were used in the revised design. The many small, printed circuit boards, were replaced by one large PCB.  
Thus the Version 2 of the Datamath was born. You can learn more about the altogether 6 well-known versions of the Datamath here. With the Version 2 the Datamath created a triumphant success. The marketing started world wide, including Europe where three assembly plants were established.  
The assembly took place in Great Britain, Italy and Spain. Long time before eBay and other online auction sites existed, the national flea markets were the main places for calculator collectors. Only a few connections between collectors in USA and Europe brought the Datamath Version 1 to Germany. Nevertheless it was natural for the Datamath Calculator Museum that a Datamath Version 1 must find its place in the exhibition.  
The following history tells how far this pocket calculator had to travel from the USA to the lucky recipient somewhere in Germany.  It also explains how the payment and the customs formalities were handled.  
Already one year ago the search for the Version 1 of the Datamath began. There was only a hint from the note in a wonderful article by Larry Gilbert; "Texas Instruments Calculators - How rare are they ?"  Version 1 was and that on the back of the calculator the charging time of the NiCd batteries is indicated with 16h instead of 10h.  
Additionally it was noticed that the classification "best buy" the Datamath Version 1 earned from Consumer Reports does not make the procurement simple. Inquires with different calculator collectors in Germany for this calculator did not lead to the target.  
Then, using well known Internet auction platforms like eBay and yahoo, some "Early Datamath" calculators from different sellers were bought.  But they all had the disappointing label on the backside "charging time 10h". And then, after 11 months of daily searching of the usual auction houses, a strange photo appeared on eBay!  A Datamath, apparently in good condition, with a "false" keyboard!  The "C" key, above left on the keyboard was marked with "CE/D". Was this the long lost Version 1?  

Further inquiry of the seller, Harrel Lamkin from Ruston, LA, USA, proved it was the one! He answered with an e-mail that read; 'the back says, 'Charging time 16h''! Exciting days followed, several collectors placed bids on the calculator! But this Version 1 Datamath went to the high bidder Jogibogi, the eBay nickname of the Datamath Museum operator.  
Three things had to be clarified now; Will Harrel ship the Version 1 to Germany? Many sellers are afraid because of the customs formalities and will only ship to buyers in their home country. What will shipping cost to get the calculator to Germany? How does send money to the USA from Germany ? One thing at a time.  
The first e-mail to Harrel is answered, and he sees no problem selling and shipping the Datamath to a calculator collector in Germany.  
The shipment of the calculator should be done by US Postal Service.  A view of their Web page shows mailing expenses of $5.92 to Germany. Together, with the auction price of $27.50, totals $33.42. It is risky to mail this much cash - altogether 6 notes - in an envelope.  
As the next alternative, International Money Order would work, but the local bank would charge a $15 handling fee for that.  A perfect service is offered by Bidpay;  a money order in USA is created and sent to the recipient for a fee of only $5, using a credit card.  Also, the well-known services of Billpoint or Paypal are internationally available also.

Harrel MoneyOrder.jpg (163098 Byte)GreenCustom.jpg (16029 Byte)AnnaBeth.jpg (34085 Byte) got the local Money order within few days via the US mail, and readied the little Datamath for its journey to Germany.  His 10-year-old daughter, Anna Beth, packed the calculator carefully.  She turned it on and pressed a few buttons, then turned it off before placing it in the box.  She was amazed that it was going half way around the world. At the US Post Office, Harrel filled out the green customs form: Pocket calculator, VALUE $50. However, that was not necessary, the calculator was only $27.50.  

On November 9, 2000 the calculator began its long journey at the local post office in Ruston.  Travel.jpg (135783 Byte)We selected surface mail transportation, which is cheaper than airmail, but much slower. The 10,000 kilometers distance took the calculator 6 weeks to arrive. On December 13, 2000, the Datamath caught sight of the light for the first time in the port of Hamburg, with a customs inspection.  
Custom.jpg (70388 Byte)After another week, it could be picked up at the local customs office.  By the declared value of $50 it is situated over the free limit of the German import duty, and therefore must be paid for before it is handed out to the new owner.  On December 19, 2000, finally, as an early Christmas gift, the Datamath is unpacked, viewed, switched on, tested and photographed.  It is immediately displayed in the most honorable space, to be occupied for many years - here in the Datamath Calculator Museum.

firebird.jpg (89309 Byte)Once again my special thanks to Harrel Lamkin!  He extended to the Museum a perfect piece of calculator history. If you want to learn more about Harrel's other interests, you must visit his web site. It is a very interesting site! He also has outstanding feedback as an eBay member.

Datamath™ is a trademark of Texas Instruments. 


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© Joerg Woerner and Harrel LamkinDecember 22, 2000. No reprints without written permission.