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Art and culture

The Story of Digitron – the First Pocket-Sized Calculator

In 1971, led by a group of engineers, the workers of the Digitron company from the Istrian town of Buje manufactured the first European pocket-sized calculator, a gadget which has since become so commonplace that the locals still call it “digitron”.

Under the leadership of the famous Digitron director Ante Tomljanović, the company was established in an abandoned fire station with only 24 employees and their first product – the famous DB 800 calculator – changed the course of history, making them the leading manufacturer of electronic devices in the region of former Yugoslavia.
The DB 800 expertly combined design and functionality and its small size made it a practical handheld gadget. The model was equipped with advanced mathematical functions, with results instantly appearing on the LED display. This pioneer among gadgets was also quite expensive at the time, its price being almost comparable to the cost of the famous Yugoslav car Zastava 750.
Digitron’s recipe for success – knowledge, innovation, and pure enthusiasm
Digitron was an immensely successful factory with a well-structured organisation manufacturing a wide array of devices, from mechanical parts for cash registers to sophisticated force transducers for scales, military devices, and even traffic lights. Digitron invested a lot into its employees, as well as scholarships, education, culture, and sports. The company mainly employed young professionals in training, while the calculator assembly line positions were normally filled by young women who describe the collective as a family to this day. Back then, their salaries exceeded even those in other industries and often inspired envy. The Digitron workers often travelled the world, visiting developed European countries and Japan, and they were met with respect wherever they went.  
The company is still in operation, although the scope of its operation has been significantly decreased. Digitron is located in the outskirts of Buje and it serves as a reminder of a once visionary factory which permanently changed the history of this town.
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