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Dieter Rams – Braun Calculator

Posted by Jon Dowling on

It was with great delight that I heard of the re-release of the iconic Braun ET66 calculator. Like many designers, I was turned on to the design of its creator, Dieter Rams, due in part to the attention that was given to his influence on Apple.

The ET66 calculator was given particular focus, with many comparing the iPhone calculator app design with that of the Braun model. It did, indeed, look surprisingly similar, although it has been somewhat modified since, and it came as little surprise, given that both Jobs and Ive used to admire the products and design philosophies of Rams – one of those being that, ‘good design is long lasting’.

It is fitting then that one of Braun’s most iconic products, the ET66 calculator from 1987, should get a recent re-issue. The ET66 was one of Braun's most loved designs and was collaboratively designed by Dietrich Lubs and Dieter Rams. Considered by many to be the pinnacle of the 'less but better' philosophy that Rams advocated, its simple, rectangular design with convex, circular buttons were inviting to fingers, while its clever use of colour distinguished functions from numbers – with the all-important equals button jumping out with a high-contrast, black-on-yellow scheme. A sturdy, hard-plastic slip case then insured it was kept safe and has also resulted in many original units surviving to this day.

It is fair to say that the Braun calculator has become an icon of modern design, launching a raft of imitators over the years and essentially establishing our collective understanding of a pocket calculator’s perfect form. As a mark of its success it can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Thanks to the smartphone in your pocket, you likely won't have a need for an old-school calculator, but if you appreciate minimalism and the beauty of simplicity in design, it’s a wonderful object to own.

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