Jerry Merryman, Co-Inventor of the Handheld Calculator, Dies at 86

MerrymanJerry Merryman, one of three inventors of the hand-held electronic calculator, died on Feb. 27, 2019, at a hospital in Dallas from complications of kidney and heart failure. He was 86 years old.

Merryman’s stepdaughter, Kim Ikovic said her stepfather experienced complications while he was having surgery for the installation of a pacemaker. Merryman has been in the hospital since December.

While working at Texas Instruments based in Dallas, he was one of three individuals who invented the hand-held calculator. The team’s leader was Jack Kilby, a Nobel Prize winner. The hand-held calculation was the precursor for computers due to the invention of the integrated circuit. The third member of the team was James Van Tassel.

The original prototype could do four functions: addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction. A commercial version under the brand name Pocketronic first hit the market in 1970.

When the Pocketronic calculator was released, the press did not mention Merryman or the other inventors. The calculator had many 40th birthday celebrations, but the highest prize was in 2007 when the prototype was given to the Smithsonian.

At the ceremony in 2007, Merryman said: “It was unbelievable and overwhelming seeing the prototype I between items invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison.”

Written by Barbara Sobel


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Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Thomas Okon Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

Jerry Merryman, Co-Inventor of the Handheld Calculator, Dies at 86 added by Barbara Sobel on March 6, 2019
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