Vintage British Calculators

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Betting-shop Calculators

Betting shops need to perform complex calculations in order to determine and pay out the winnings of complicated bets on horse or greyhound races.  This is known as "settling the bet".
A few special models of calculator were produced to make these calculations easier, apparently all in Britain.

Featured here are, in date order:

Notes:

GENIE 247

GENIE 247

GENIE 247

The main display is an 8-digits amber gas-discharge first-generation 'Pandicon' tube—effectively 8 'Nixie'-type assemblies within a single tube.  There is an additional window with a 7-segment display.

4 function and betting functions.

Uses 7 large integrated circuits (all with markings removed) and 24 small ones.  The main chipset could be the 6 chip S-100 set from Electronic Arrays (compare with the chips in the Data Devices Brock 880/1 calculator on this site).

The operating manual is dated January 1972.

262 x 360 x 109 mm / 10.3 x 14.2 x 4.3".

Manufactured by Specialised Electronic Calculators Limited, Unit 9, Block 1, Faraday Place (Works), Thetford, Norfolk, England.

Keyboard

Close up of the keyboard with the simplified operating instructions.

Inside

The GENIE 247 with the cover removed.

Circuit board

Close up of the cicuit board.  Note that all of the larger integrated circuits have had all markings removed.

The 'Pandicon' display tube provides large, easy to read, numbers.

Inside

Inside seen from the side to reveal more of the circuitry.

The Data Devices Brock 880/1 calculator in this section also uses a first-generation 'Pandicon' display.

Sporting Life Settler by Sinclair

Sinclair Settler

Sinclair The Sporting Life SETTLER

Display is 8 digits, green fluorescent.

Four-function and betting calculations.

3v (2x AA batteries).

Main integrated circuits - National Semiconductor DS8881N and MM5799NBX/N. The latest date codes on the integrated circuits are from 1978.

162 x 93 x 29 mm. (6.4 x 3.7 x 1.1 ins).

"Assembled in Hong Kong
 Designed in Great Britain."

This hand-held calculator has a similar casing to that used on the Sinclair President. How far Sinclair was involved with the design and manufacture of this calculator is not known. Both circuit boards are marked "Radofin" which was a company based in both London and Hong Kong which also sold calculators under its own name.

About 1978.

Circuit board

The circuit board. The large integrated circuits are the DS8881N and MM5799NBX/N.

A similar circuit board is used in the Sporting Life Super Settler, below.

Sporting Life Super Settler

Sporting Life Super Settler

Sporting Life Super Settler

Display is 8 digits, green VFD (vacuum-fluorescent display).

4 function and betting functions.

Main integrated circuits - National Semiconductor DS8881N and MM5799NBX/N. The latest date codes on the integrated circuits are from 1978.

254 x 242 x 109 mm / 10.0 x 9.5 x 4.3".

Manufactured by AMBIT International, Department MPD, 200 North Service Road, Brentwood, Essex, England.
"Design Copyright Mirror Group Newspapers Limited"

The circuit board in this machine is identical to that in the Sporting Life Settler by Sinclair, above, except that it has a slight extension on one side for mounting it in the casing.

Keyboard

Close up of the keyboard.

Circuit board

The circuit board of the Super Settler seen, after removing the cover, through the gap between the keyboard and display.  It is nearly identical to that of the hand-held Settler above.

Sporting Life Super Settler Mk II

Sporting Life Super Settler Mk II

Sporting Life Super Settler Mk II

Display is 8 digits, red LED, with an additional window for a 7-segment display.

4 function and betting functions.

The circuit is based around a Nippon Electric Company (NEC) D780C which is a fully compatible version of the original NMOS version of the ZILOG Z80 micro-processor.  The program to produce the calculator functions is stored in a 2732 EPROM (Erasable, Programmable, Read-Only memory). This stores up to 32 Kbits (= 4 KBytes) of program.
The integrated circuits are here date coded to 1982.

267 x 225 x 89 mm / 10.5 x 8.9 x 3.5".

Manufactured by Silicon Express, Silicon House, Rothley, Leicestershire, England.

Although dating from as late as about 1982, this calculator is included due to its interesting electronics.  By this time in their development standard desktop electronic calculators were manufactured in tens of thousands, and generally had vacuum fluorescent displays and one main integrated circuit which performed the calculating functions.

This highly specialised calculator was a bespoke design and has features suggesting that it was manufactured in small quantities.

 

Chris Beasley has kindly provided information about the design of the Super Settler II which throws light on it:
"I designed this calculator for Silicon Express and had access to the original algorithms from Sinclair.  I spent many sleepless nights with the programming as it was actually programmed directly in machine code, and I did not have access to any form of assembler software in those days.
The reason that it was commissioned was that Sinclair could no longer source the chips used in the original Super Settler.  I used standard devices that could be sourced anywhere."

Keyboard

Close up showing the specialised keys for betting functions.

Inside

With the cover removed showing the circuit boards and the large 7-segment LED displays.

Integrated circuits

Close up showing the integrated circuits.  At bottom right are a Mitsubishi M5L8255AP-5 and an NEC D780C.  Just above the display, to the left, is the 2732 EPROM which holds the program for the special functions.  This is mounted in a socket so that the program can be altered if necessary.  All are date-coded here to 1982.

CHECK-A-BET Multi

CHECK-A-BET Multi

CHECK-A-BET Multi

Note - The machine in the photographs has no labels on it.  However, an identical machine appeared on the eBay auction site labelled 'CHECK-A-BET Multi', so this name has been used here.

Display is 8 digits, red LED.

Four-function and betting calculations.

AC.

Main integrated circuit - National Semiconductor INS8040N-6 8-bit microcontroller, a member of the 8048 family without any internal ROM (Read-Only Memory) and with 256x8 RAM (Random Access Memory). The latest date on the integrated circuits is AUG. 88.

224 x 215 x 130 mm (8.8 x 8.5 x 5.1 ins).

About 1988.

Although dating from as late as about 1988, this calculator is included due to its interesting electronics and being a follow-on from the models above.

CHECK-A-BET Multi keyboard

Close up of the keyboard of the CHECK-A-BET Multi showing the normal 4-function keys and the keys for the specialist betting functions.

CHECK-A-BET Multi rear

Rear of the CHECK-A-BET Multi calculator.  Very unusually, this has a connector for a large 9v battery, probably used as a memory back-up poser supply for when the AC is turned off.

CheckABet_5

The circuit board of the CHECK-A-BET Multi calculator, with the LED display modules at the top.  The large integrated circuit on the left is a National Semiconductor INS8040 micro-controller.  In the centre with the paper label is probably an EPROM (Erasable, Programmable, Read-Only Memory) holding the operating program for the micro-controller.  The label carries the date AUG. 88.

Holtronics Genie Settler

Holtronics Genie Settler

Holtronics Genie Settler

Display is 8 digits, red LED.

Four-function and betting calculations.

Power supply: 9v rechargeable.

Main integrated circuits - Hitachi HD6303RP microcontroller, HD6321P Peripheral Interface Adapter, and others.
A ROM (Read-Only Memory) carrying the operating program of the calculator has the date 17/06/96 (17th June 1996) on the label.

276 x 222 x 83 mm (10.9 x 8.75 x 3.25 ins).

Circuit board made by Toucan Systems Ltd.

Although dating from as late as about 1996, this calculator is included due to its interesting electronics and being a follow-on from the models above.

Holtronics Genie Settler inside

The casing has been opened to reveal the circuit board and the rechargeable battery.

Holtronics Genie Settler circuit board

Close up of the semiconductors.
The main integrated circuits are, from top downwards:

Vintage British Calculators

© Text & photographs copyright Nigel Tout   2000-2020  except where noted otherwise.