CASIO FX-880P Personal Computer Teardown

I think CASIO during the 80's exemplified peak design, engineering and quality control (with what they had at their disposal in the 80's). FX-880P is the flagship calculator model with a built in scientific library. Unfortunately, the one I have does not work anymore, but that should not prevent us from taking it apart.

Classic 80's flair - checkout the Neon tube aesthetic in the background.
Classic 80's flair - checkout the Neon tube aesthetic in the background.
Manual also in French. 429 pages.
Manual also in French. 429 pages.
The FX-880P encased with a sliding cover.
The FX-880P encased with a sliding cover.
Made in Japan.
Made in Japan.
This was one of the last models to use aluminium case - both front and back with a plastic core.
This was one of the last models to use aluminium case - both front and back with a plastic core. 
Inside of the cover.
Inside of the cover.
In all its glory. The FX-880P "Personal Computer".
Back cover made from Aluminium sheet metal
Integrated screw posts
Battery changing instructions
2x 90 degree bends + corner bend
3x Batteries
Expansion module slot
Plastic battery cover, note the ejection pin marks
Battery compartment cover (outer), all sheet metal
Motherboard
Soldering job, par for the course, 80's electronics
Interior construction is not anything to write home about. Tape, glue, ribbon contacts, etc.
ICs
This is what I love about old electronics - they gave manual controls for everything.
Wow, speaker. 
Rubber dome keyboard with carbon pads.
Interesting contact points. Special part with heat applied to fasten it.
LCD. These things are notoriously bad, especially contacts.
Melted plastic to secure the nut. Probably better than plastic threaded screws (self tapping).

I love this calculator/computer(?). The exterior construction quality is absolutely top notch. Insides are pretty rough, but that's to be expected for 80's manufacturing capabilities. They didn't have access to specialized tapes (Nitto) and a whole bunch of industries that cater to small electronics manufacturing. If you ever open an iPhone, there is a tremendous amount of systems engineering and DFM/DFA that has lead to a boom in making parts that aid assembly.

What I admire about CASIO is that they have a consistent design language and I don't mean just the aesthetics. The way they construct their products, the way they make them usable and understandable to the user, the way they communicate the state of the system, the operability, etc. This design language changed over time as the company evolved. The family of products that released in 1983 were different than 1993 in terms of design.

If somone designed a calculator today, they would most likely be made from ABS plastic, in a clamshell case. An ARM microcontroller that replaces essentially 70% of the chips, and it would be impossible to repair. LCD would be glued in, self tapping screws, and no extra-mile attemps to increase the quality. Infact, the opposite. Modern electronics just feel like everyone is trying to race to the bottom, cut costs at all costs!

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