Date of appearance: 1982
Trademark: Elektronika
Made in: USSR
Dimensions: 100 × 46 × 185 mm
Weight: 390 g
Tags: museumofsovietcalculators

The Elektronika B3-34 programmable microcalculator is a second-generation Soviet programmable calculator that was intended for complex iterative mathematical calculations in a wide range of applications. The B3-34 was produced at Kalkulyator in the Ukrainian SSR (Svetlovodsk, Kirovohrad Region) and went on sale in 1980 for RUB 85. The calculator was an instant hit and brought microcalculator programming into the spotlight of popular science magazines. People started publishing books on professional and recreational programming on Elektronika B3-34. The latter included clever tricks, manuals on using the calculator in everyday life and in school, and basic logic puzzles (guessing the number, etc.). Schools used stands in the form of the B3-34 for demonstration at programming lessons. The microcalculator can work with trigonometric functions, supports operations with radians and degrees (enabled with a special switch). It has 14-register memory and 51 automatic operations. The calculator’s debugger supports a number of automation functions, such as iteration statements, subroutines, and step-by-step mode for running and inspecting programmes, with three-step display of codes. Striving to streamline the calculator, the developers simplified the microcode for processing errors and anomalies, which spawned a number of undocumented features. For example, with the degrees-radians switch positioned in the middle, the later models could calculate trigonometric functions using radians. Entire communities and columns in prominent magazines grew around the numerous inexplicable and surprising undocumented features of the device, some of which were even exploited in games and other programmes. One such experiment was featured in the Science & Life magazine (No. 6, 1988): in Chelyabinsk, N. Smirnov replaced the calculator’s internal 120kHz clock generator with an external 200 kHz one, which resulted in a 1.8x performance boost and doubled power consumption. The B3-34 is equipped with a 12-digit vacuum cathodoluminescent display. Calculations could be made with either a floating or natural point. The device can be powered by four D-0.55s batteries or a BP2-3 line adapter. The time of continuous work on one set of batteries ranges from two to four hours.