Little Professor

LIttle Professor

In the 1970s, electronic games emerged as an exciting new form of entertainment quickly embraced by the nation’s youth. Arcades were no longer rooms containing pool tables and pinball machines, instead allowing for a rousing game of Pong and a few other modern marvels. The Atari game system even allowed this emerging technology into the comforts of our homes. With the kids completely enthralled by everything electronic, it became possible to sneak in an educational game or two under the radar. One of the more successful was the Little Professor, a hand-held device that taught math to unsuspecting kids.

Texas Instruments, who had long been recognized as a leading calculator manufacturer, came out with the Little Professor in 1976. The front of the device depicted a kindly old professor that appeared to have his nose buried in a book. An LED display at the top appeared to be a window into the professor’s advanced brain functions and allowed users see what the professor was thinking.

While it might have appeared to be a calculator, however, it didn’t actually give you any answers. Kids would do the grunt work, figuring out various math problems, then enter the answers into the device which would give them points for a correct answer or display a dreaded “EEE” when they had miscalculated. Packed with 16,000 individual problems, this simple device tested them in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and offered five different levels of increased difficulty – ensuring that up-and-coming Einsteins still had their work cut out for them if they wanted to please the old man.

Kids loved these gadgets and they sold quite well throughout the 70s and 80s. In fact, Texas Instrument still manufactures a newer version of the Little Professor to this day, having given the professor’s brain an update or two, along with a new digital display to replace the old LED readout. The company also managed a few other popular educational toys along the way, including the Speak & Spell and Speak & Math – each taxing the brains of little ones, all under the deceptive guise of fun with technology.

If you were the proud owner of a Little Professor calculator, tell us all about beating that old scholar into submission with your mathematic prowess, or if you were on the receiving end of a whole lotta “EEE”s, you can share that as well. Either way, we’d love to hear your recollections of this widely-regarded and well-remembered educational toy at Retroland.

16 Responses to “Little Professor”

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  1. jennifer harris says:

    I also had one of these.

  2. Sam Stewart says:

    I had one of these and loved it dearly, the reason for reminiscing is I am now a parent and want another for my kids! where oh where can I get one?????

  3. Tammy says:

    I had one too and loved it. I want another one. Don’t know whatever happened to mine. I’m sure, that as I got older, I stopped playing with it and my mom eventually through it out. :-( Checked Amazon, but it is not there. I will have to check ebay later.

  4. Gina says:

    I think I had one of these. It sure looks familiar anyway.

  5. Mayo Earnest says:

    I still have ours, complete with original case and strap. It is the older model with the label on the back of the case. It works perfectly.

    • Mayo Earnest says:

      Oops! I should have said it is the older model with the label on the back of the Little Prof. Not on the soft vinyl zippered case.

  6. Mawwah says:

    Ive been thinking about this one so much lately… My strongest memory is how if you pushed enough buttons you’d get the EEEEEEEEEE across the screen. Played with it for hours after lights out….

  7. Cathy says:

    I as a parent loved this for my kids when they were in school. I would like to locate one for my grandson to help him as it helped his father. Sometimes the old things are much better than the new stuff.

  8. Tina says:

    i just found mine buried in a box of old electronics. It still works! My 6 year old won’t put it down. With the age of much more exciting technological ways to learn math, he is enjoying The Little Professor. Crazy.

  9. Its me says:

    It’s great, I remember this. Its great at learning math, but should never have been abandoned :(

  10. Jay says:

    I still have mine. It brings back great memories.

  11. Chris says:

    Both of my children played with the Little Professor in the 80’s and early 90’s. My daughter was so interested in this little hand held toy that she learned her math facts before she started kindergarten! She could do multiplication facts through the 13s. This was the beginning of her excellence in her journey with math. Today she is successful CPA.

  12. Amy says:

    I still have mine next to my desk! I was a very nerdy child, and doing math on this, or playing games with flashcards on the alphabet were actually fun for me. The Little Professor is one of my favorite childhood toys

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