Slide Rules

There are slides devoted to this topic: Lecture 2, pp. 29-34.


For a quick, mostly pictorial overview of slide rules from their birth in the 17th century and continuing popularity through the beginning of the 20th century, check out the Computer History Museum’s page on side rules.

To learn how to perform functions like multiplication, division, square roots, and more on slide rules, read the Basic Slide Rule Instructions page from The Museum of HP Calculators.

Visit the comprehensive hobbyist website Eric’s Slide Rule Site to find out about the invention and evolution of slide rules, the many types of slide rules, and instructions for collecting and using these tools. The site also includes links out to general information sites and slide rule societies.

Take a trip to the online International Slide Rule Museum for a close look at the curator’s extensive collection of slide rule artifacts and manuals.


Watch”The Slide Rule,” a peppy instructional video, to learn how to use the multiplication, division, cubic, and logarithmic functions of the slide rule.

Other Media

Try out this calculating tool for yourself, using a Virtual Slide Rule.

Journal Articles

“The Slide Rule,” an article written for The Mathematical Gazette before slide rules were commonplace as calculating tools, is a concise explanation of the logarithmic principles behind, and calculations possible upon, the slide rule.

Read “The Slide Rule,” by F R Barrell


Teach Yourself the Slide Rule, written by Burns Snodgrass, was published in 1954 as a volume of the “Teach Yourself…” series and is available online almost in its entirety. The book is written for a reader who know nothing about slide rules or the mathematical processes behing them; therefore, the author very slowly and thoroughly explains the computations possible with the slide rule, as well as the types of slide rules then in existence. Practical exercises are also included.