Radio Shack PC-8

Datasheet legend
Ab/c: Fractions calculation
AC: Alternating current
BaseN: Number base calculations
Card: Magnetic card storage
Cmem: Continuous memory
Cond: Conditional execution
Const: Scientific constants
Cplx: Complex number arithmetic
DC: Direct current
Eqlib: Equation library
Exp: Exponential/logarithmic functions
Fin: Financial functions
Grph: Graphing capability
Hyp: Hyperbolic functions
Ind: Indirect addressing
Intg: Numerical integration
Jump: Unconditional jump (GOTO)
Lbl: Program labels
LCD: Liquid Crystal Display
LED: Light-Emitting Diode
Li-ion: Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
Lreg: Linear regression (2-variable statistics)
mA: Milliamperes of current
Mtrx: Matrix support
NiCd: Nickel-Cadmium rechargeable battery
NiMH: Nickel-metal-hydrite rechargeable battery
Prnt: Printer
RTC: Real-time clock
Sdev: Standard deviation (1-variable statistics)
Solv: Equation solver
Subr: Subroutine call capability
Symb: Symbolic computing
Tape: Magnetic tape storage
Trig: Trigonometric functions
Units: Unit conversions
VAC: Volts AC
VDC: Volts DC
Years of production:   Display type: Alphanumeric display  
New price:   Display color: Black  
    Display technology: Liquid crystal display 
Size: 3"×5½"×½" Display size: 16 characters
Weight: 4 oz    
    Entry method: BASIC expressions 
Batteries: 2×"CR-2032" Lithium Advanced functions: Trig Exp Cmem 
External power:   Memory functions:  
I/O: Printer port     
    Programming model: BASIC 
Precision: 12 digits Program functions: Jump Cond Subr Lbl Ind  
Memories: 1200(0) bytes Program display: Text display  
Program memory: 1200 bytes Program editing: Text editor  
Chipset: Sharp PC-1246?   Forensic result: 8.99998153428  

pc8.jpg (22411 bytes)With this last in their series of eight pocket computer/calculators, Radio Shack returned to using a Sharp model. The PC-8 appears to be the Sharp PC-1246 in OEM guise. What is a bit surprising is that behind a higher model number by Radio Shack, there is this earlier Sharp machine with less memory capacity than the PC-3.

On the other hand, the PC-8 has something that I sorely missed in the earlier models: the ability to invoke many advanced functions with a single keystroke (well, two keystrokes to be precise, since you need to use the Shift key.) On the other hand, for some inexplicable reason, the functions they chose to provide shortcuts for happen to be relatively rarely used programming functions, instead of functions you're much more likely to use on a daily basis, such as scientific functions. Well, nobody ever said that these early pocket computers were famous for their ergonomics!

The programming model of the PC-8 is demonstrated by this high-accuracy implementation of the Gamma function:

20:Z=ABS X
50:G=LN(G+(.011468489+5.435E-10)/(Z+4))+(Z-.5)*LN (Z+4.65)-Z-4.65
60:IF X>0THEN 90
80:G=LN (π/X/SIN (π*Z))-G