Mark AdamsMark Adams in the managing director of furniture company Vitsoe. He lives in London.
Everyone assumes the ET66 calculator was designed by Dieter Rams. But it’s not. Dieter was head of the design team for sure, but he did not design the calculator. It is designed by Dietrich Lubs whom Dieter recruited to join his design team in 1965. Before that, Lubs had been trained as a shipwright, designing and building ships, and when he came to his job interview and showed Dieter Rams a drawing of a ship, he was immediately hired.
The first thing you notice once you start looking at the object itself is the on and off buttons in green and red. I find that amusing because I’m a sailor. All the buttons are white except the equals button, which is clever because the equals button is the one you use all the time, so you have to know exactly where that is. The buttons on the calculator are convex, they have a bump coming up to you, which give them a nice feel. The numbers 0-9 and equals are a bit more polished than the function buttons that are more matte. The actual numbers are molded into the buttons and not stuck on them, which means that the more you use it the better they become.
The back of the calculator is ribbed so that it sits in your hand. It has four small rubber feet so it does not slip from your desk. On the back is also printed instructions, and the irony of this is of course that the calculator is so beautifully designed and self explanatory that you don’t need instructions.
I bough my ET66 calculator when it came out in 1987 and it’s been in my bag ever since. It’s a tremendous piece of technology, I’ve had it for 28 years and I suspect it will easily survive another 28 years. What we have here is just the meticulous care and attention to produce a simple object that can last so long. The case is designed by the Braun team to protect the calculator and give it longevity. It can only last this long because it has a case. Why is the world so complicated that we can’t work things out like that today?