**Retro Review: Sharp Scientific Computer EL-5500 III**

Company: Sharp

Type: Scientific, BASIC

Years Made: 1985 - 1991

Batteries: 2 CR-2032 batteries

Memory/RAM: 6,878 bytes

**Basic Features**

The EL-5500 III operates in two main modes: CALC (calculator) and BASIC (programming
mode). The CALC mode has two additional
sub-modes: Matrices and Statistics
(Linear Regression). You can also
convert numbers between Decimal (base 10) and Hexadecimal (base 16).

The matrix mode uses RAM and has two matrices in storage: X and
Y. Thankfully, Sharp printed matrix
operations on their hard case, includes arithmetic, scalar arithmetic, inverse,
squaring, transpose, and determinant.
Given how the EL-5500 III has was released over 30 years ago, I image
someone has come up with a good program to find eigenvalues. X not only serves an input matrix but an
output. With the one line screen, elements are shown one at a time.

In CALC mode, calculations are in AOS mode (algebraic, with the
one-variable argument functions such as the logarithmic and trig functions are executed
after the number is entered), and the equals key ( [ = ] ) completes
operations. However, in BASIC mode,
calculations are entered the way they are written, and they are completed when
the [ ENTER ] key is pressed.

For example: to calculate
log(6):

CALC Mode: 6 [ log ]

BASIC Mode: [ log ] 6 [
ENTER ]

There is no built-in complex number mode.

**The Keyboard**

The keys are small, but no so small that I don’t have to use a
stylus or aid to press them. The keys
are easy to the touch. I am also
impressed on how light the keyboard is, which is impressive for 1980s portable
keyboard. Yet the keyboard is steady and the keys give a solid response. Sharp did a great job with this model.

Programming

As mentioned before, the EL-5500 III has 6,878 bytes, somewhat
comparable to the TI-74. Also similar to
the TI-74, there is only one program space.
You can fit multiple programs in the EL-5500 III as long as you organize
your line numbers correctly. However,
the EL-5500 III has definable keys with the following available labels: A, S,
D, F, G, H, J, K,L, ‘, Z, X, C, C, V, B, N, M, SPC.

To label a program, follow this format:

Line
number “key” : command

…

END

Use the [DEF] key to run labeled programs.

The EL-5500 III has a beep sound (via BEEP command). I think am I going to start using beeps in
programs when I can.

The ability to type lower case is present through the [SML] which
toggles lower case on and off.

The classic mathematical BASIC commands are available: DELETE, NEW, GOTO, STR$, VAL, DATA, READ,
DIM, FOR loops, IF tests, GOSUB, INPUT, PRINT, ON GOTO/GOSUB, and the almost
completely unnecessary LET.

LIST is used instead of FETCH.

FOR loops:

FOR

*var*=*starting value*TO*ending value*[ STEP*increment*] … NEXT*var*
IF tests:

IF

*conditional test*THEN*do this one command if test is true*
IF

*conditional test*THEN*go to this line number (no GOTO is necessary)*
LET assigns a value to a variable.
However it is not required. For example,
both statements listed will store 5 to the variable A:

*LET A = 5*

*A = 5*

Strings are concentrated with a plus sign while multiple commands
can be stringed together with a colon.

Line numbers are needed to organize the statements. I wish line numbers were brought back in
modern calculators that used basic.
According to the EL-5500 III manual, the available line numbers range
from 1 to 65279.

Most commands also have short cut keywords. For example, RAD., RADI., and RADIANS set
radians mode, while P. and PR. can both be used for PRINT. When entered, the EL-5500 III will complete
the abbreviations with their full word counterparts. This was created to save time.

**Accessories**

The EL-5500 III can be attached to a CE-126P, a combination
thermal printer and cassette player interface.
Yes, the CE-126P can be connected to a compatible cassette tape player,
which the player is used to record programs.

**Final Verdict**

The EL-5500 III is a pleasure to hold and use. Despite the screen being small, the text on
the screen is crisp and easy to read.
The most likely place to find EL-5500 III computers for sale is eBay,
which is where I purchased mine. Prices
do vary, I paid $38. I didn’t get any
accessories though. I recommend buying
one if you are interested.

Programs using the EL-5500 III to come in the future (along with
my beloved HP 71B).

P.S. The EL-5500 III is

*not*the calculator/computer used in the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. That was the Radio Shack TRS-80 PC-4. (http://www.gbfans.com/equipment/other/radio-shack-pc-4-calculator/ )
Eddie

This blog is property of Edward Shore, 2017

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