Picture of the Sharp EL-620 Elsi Mate Talking Calculator, front close-up view of keyboard.

Sharp Elsi Mate Calculator EL-620 Review

This vintage 1980 Sharp EL-620 Elsi Mate talking calculator speaks the numbers and math operations quite clearly for the times.





Not only did it help springboard electronic speech into consumer home markets, but also ushered in the now-common LCD display.

So while the EL-620 does not offer many scientific functions (SIN, COS, TAN, et al), this portable talking calculator does basic functions (add, subtract, multiply, and divide, as well as square root).  Plus, the EL-620 offers a single memory, two speech volume levels, with multi-tone speech heard in other vintage talking devices of the 1980s.

Picture of the Sharp EL-620 voice synthesized calculator, open case, front view.
Sharp EL-620 voice synthesized calculator, open case, front view

Keyboard Layout on the Sharp EL-620 Elsi Mate Calculator

Next, find a list of the keyboard keys, as read from left to right, then top to bottom.

  • Mode, CM, RM, M-, M+, OFF
  • 7, 8, 9, /, C.CE
  • 4, 5, 6, X, SQRT
  • 1, 2, 3, -, READ
  • 0, ., %, +, =

There’s also a two-position volume HI / LO switch on the right side of the calculator, right beside the C.CE key.

The following key abbreviation definitions apply:

  • CM –> Clear Memory
  • RM –> Recall Memory
  • M- –> Subtract from Memory
  • M+ –> Add to Memory
  • OFF –> Turns the calculator OFF.
  • C.CE –> Clear, Clear Entry.  Turns the calculator ON if pressed while the calculator is OFF.
  • SQRT –> Square Root Function
  • READ –> The voice reads aloud what’s currently displayed on the LCD readout.




Doing the Math Operations on the Sharp Elsi Mate Calculator

Here are several scenarios that show how to use the EL-620.

  1. Turn the calculator ON: Press the CE.C key.
  2. Switch the calculator OFF: Press the OFF key.
  3. Switch Speech On: Press C.CE, MODE, RM.
  4. Turn Speech Off: Press C.CE, MODE, CM.
  5. Speak what’s on the display: Press the READ button.
  6. Add 9 and 7: Press C.CE, 9, +, 7, =.
  7. Subtract 3 from 6: Press C.CE, 6, -, 3, =.
  8. Multiply 9 by 8: Press C.CE, 9, X, 8, =.
  9. Divide 2 by 0: Press C.CE, 2, /, 0, =.
  10. Find the square root of 9: Press C.CE, 9, SQRT.
  11. Finally, to reset the display to zero: Press the C.CE key.
Picture of the Sharp EL-620 Elsi Mate Voice Synthesized Calculator, Back View, with battery cover removed, showing batteries and information plaque.
Sharp EL-620 Elsi Mate talking calculator, Back View, with battery cover removed, showing batteries and information plaque.

Benefits, Pros, Features, and Advantages of the Sharp EL-620 Elsi Mate Calculator

Clear Speech

Far from monotonous, this speech offers some higher and lower inflections.

Long Lasting Batteries

The LR9 watch batteries, or the like, can last several months through normal use.

Auto Shutoff

Times out and powers off after about ten keyboard-idle minutes.

LCD Display

Shows eight digits.  Reasonably high contrast black digits on a light background.  Not back lit however.

Memory Functions

These include add, minus, recall, and clear memory operations.

ON / OFF Speech Switch on the Sharp Elsi Mate Calculator

To turn speech ON or OFF, press the MODE key, followed by the CM key.  The MODE key overrides the default memory key functions with speech control operations when pressed.





Well-Spaced Keys

All keys, except for possibly those in the top (MODE) row, have plenty of space between them for rapid yet accurate actuation.

Power Adapter Port

Use AC adapter part number EA-11H, if you’re lucky enough to find one.  If not, the batteries work well, for long periods.

Picture of the front of the closed case on the El-620 speaking calculator.
The EL-620 speaking calculator, closed case, front view.

Disadvantages, Cons, Problems, Concerns, and Limitations of the Sharp Elsi Mate Calculator EL-620

Uses Hard-to-Find Batteries

We checked several stores locally without success.  However, we did find the three button batteries online.  The required battery part numbers follow: L1560, 625A, PX625A, V625U, LR9, PX625, or PX13.  We found ours on eBay for roughly $1.62 apiece.

The AC Adapter is Hard to Find As Well

The EA-11H adapter appears to supply 4 volts DC output at 0.2 watts (50 milliamps) minimum, through a 2.5mm male plug.  Furthermore, we find the mating jack on the top of this calculator.  Will post the polarity once we acquire the appropriate plug and run needed tests.

Vintage

Not made anymore.  Sadly, this talking calculator for low vision and blind users is no longer built.  But there are still many of them around that you can buy for under $75 if you really want one.

Picture of the open battery compartment of the Sharp El-620 talking calculator, showing proper battery installation. The + sign should be visible on all three batteries.
Sharp El-620 talking calculator, back view, showing correct battery installation. The + sign should be visible on all three batteries.

Our Rating for the Sharp Elsi Mate Calculator

We just do not get why the EL-620 stayed popular for just a short time in the 1980s. Why? Because even today, we find it quite useful as a desktop or backpack calculator.  It’s light, simple to use, easy to read and hear.  Plus, and offers all the elementary math functions you need for most daily business.

This Sharp EL-620 need be no smaller.  Indeed, it’s already little enough to fit larger shirt pockets, purse pouches. Plus, you can stow in most any briefcase.

It allows blind and vision impaired users nearly full access to its math functions.  While it’s true that you can nowadays find its calculator functions on most any touch tablet computer, having a vintage talking calculator that you can quickly pull out and turn on, is handy also.  Thus, we rate Sharp Elsi Mate calculator at 98 out of 100.





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References for the Sharp Elsi Mate Calculator

  1. Where to Buy   the Sharp EL-620 Voice Synthesized Calculator

Suggested Reading

Revision History

  • 2019-05-07: Added tags and more sub headings, deleted ad scripts, and added key word focus for ‘Sharp Elsi Mate Calculator’.
  • 2017-02-24: Revised the tags list.
  • 2016-01-26: Originally posted.
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