I felt extraordinarily guilty about not knowing how to use a slide rule. I'm old enough to know that they were used quite frequently in the application of building bridges, skyscrapers, and even sending men into orbit above the earth for the first couple of times (hell, a slide rule went with the Apollo moon mission, though from what I read no one seems to remember if it were used at all or not).
I'm *not* old enough to have used one though. My education was "do things by pen and paper". Practically, I used a calcualtor, and when I learned to program, a computer. I skipped the whole slide rule thing, and it bothered me since.
I learned to use one recently. Out of boredom. After a few beers. No really.
Well okay, I've pretty much known for several years that the addition of the logorithms of two numbers is equal to the logorithm of the number one would have got from multiplying the original two numbers to begin with. The sentence I just typed is more than mere mathematics; it allowed the construction of a device that propelled the human race into the 20th century.
Mutliply two 3 digit numbers on a slide rule. In your head, this sort of thing is a little tricky. It requires pen and paper, plain and simple. The slide rule was great in the fact it allowed mathematicians to multiply three digit numbers to products with three digits of accuracy. And in math, that's literally the best you can get.
No, this wasn't a limitation of the slide rule (though you could always manufacture something 10 times as big to get that extra digit of accuracy, but hey the things were already 12 inches long... you do the math
Of course, I'll stick to computer programs, scripts, and so on to do what I need to do.
But DAMN that slide rule is fun.