Casio Is Reviving An ’80s Musical Calculator So You Can Play The Star Wars Theme While Doing Your Taxes

Casio Is Reviving An ’80s Musical Calculator So You Can Play The Star Wars Theme While Doing Your Taxes

For a short while, listening to popular songs played on old-school calculators was a fun YouTube distraction. Fads come and go a lot faster on the internet, however, which is unfortunate for Casio. It’s releasing an updated version of a popular ’80s calculator that plays music and a video game – but maybe a few weeks too late?

Thirty or so years ago, when I was a grade-school student before smartphones and Game Boys existed, I would have loved a calculator like the classic Casio MG-880. In addition to basic maths calculations, it could be used to plink out electronic tunes (like Star Wars, for example), and even play a crude version of Space Invaders. Spelling out BOOBIES with numbers on a segmented LCD display loses its novelty real quick, and the MG-880 would have been a much better distraction in school, had it been sold outside Japan.


The original MG-880
Image: Casio

Casio’s new-and-barely-improved SL-880 calculator emulates everything the MG-880 could do, with the addition of a solar panel, larger buttons, and a bigger screen. As Casio’s press release points out, there’s been a rise in the popularity of retro video games from the ’80s, but I’m having a hard time believing there’s as much nostalgia for a calculator game as there is for Super Mario Bros.

The MG-880/SL-880’s re-release isn’t without precedent, however. Back in 2013, Braun released a replica of Dieter Rams’ iconic ET66 calculator whose design Apple copied for the original iPhone’s calculator app. The ET66 comes close to being a genuine work of art that I’d gladly keep perched on a shelf in my office. I can’t say the same for the SL-880, but perhaps there’s still a musician or two looking for their 15 minutes of YouTube fame with a rousing calculator rendition of The Final Countdown.

Casio hasn’t released pricing details for the SL-880, but it will be available starting on March 23 and it’s expected to sell for somewhere around $US20 – only in Japan, again. If you want to get one outside the country, you can always turn to import sites like Japan Trend Shop, which is asking $US100 for the SL-880. Just how badly do you want to scratch that nostalgic itch?

[Casio via Engadget]