Monday, March 12, 2007

Oldest Periodic Table on the Blog

Although I am a management consultant who, for years, have been advising companies how to implement the Japanese technique of good housekeeping known as 5S, at home it is my wife who dictates all matters relating to 5S. And she is particularly ‘ruthless’, as one Japanese author puts it, when it comes to applying the first ‘S’, Seiri, which means Clearing – to discard things you no longer need. Anything that is deemed to be no longer needed around the house is ‘buanged’ (buang is Malay for throw). Her motto seems to be; Throw first, ask questions later.

Hence, it is a bit of an irony that my wife still has in her possession a number of very old science text books, including possibly the ‘oldest Periodic Table on the blog’. Here are some photos for you to enjoy.

1) Periodic Table

This old thing published is by Tekno Product of Petaling Jaya, Selangor. But I suspect this could be a ‘pirated’ copy because in the bottom left corner of this periodic table, the small print regarding its copyright has been typed over with a series of ###s. But I can still make out the year 1966.

Periodic Table1

2) Nelkon

Ah .. most physics students of my generation are familiar with the name Nelkon. His A-level textbook is a classic. This book was first published in 1958 and the one you see here is the 3rd edition (SI edition), dated 1970. But for O-level, Nelkon had a competitor by the name of Whitley, if my memory serves me well.


Mubaruk Ipoh


Guys my age who went to university or the polytechnic should also remember this name. It stood for English Language Book Society and their books were very cheap. Notice the words, Low-Priced Edition on the cover? This one was first published in 1960 and this is the “ELBS edition reprinted 1976”.



4) Eastern Economy Edition

How about this one? Any of you guys remember this other publisher of popular text books. This one has the following declarations in the opening pages.

This Eighth Indian Reprint – Rs 32.00 …… This Eastern Economy Edition is the only authorized, complete and unabridged photo-offset reproduction of the latest American edition specially published and priced for sale only in Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Thailand.


My wife, who teaches science and biology in Methodist Girls’ School, told us that she is so used to these classics that she still refers to them now and then. And she is not shy to show them to her students. I think that is a good thing. For one thing, her students will learn to appreciate how fortunate they are to have textbooks nowadays that are so beautifully illustrated with colourful diagrams and photographs and even cdroms – and learn to take better care of them. They should also be thankful for having a teacher who is so passionate about the subject she is teaching.


Anonymous said...

Just an observation

I thought girls are very neat in the way they handle books. How come got so many dog ears?

Friend, you show the Malaysian school textbooks - no Singapore ones?

Lam Chun See said...

Friend - my better half hails from Ipoh, so of course only Malaysian books. As for the condition. these beauties are more than 30 years old and have travelled many hundreds of kms from Ipoh to her hostel in NTU to her rented flats in Jurong and then to our present home. Of course will have some dog ears lah. Still better than no ears.

Anonymous said...

Most probably in worst condition than his wife's and already been 'buang' long ago. :)

The books might be old but the store that sold them is still around .It is a store that sells textbooks and assessment books.
Something like the Popular book store .Minus the array of pens and pencils,etc....
In those days books from Standard 1 to Form 6 and beyond.All cramped in to an old shop lot.There use to be a few other bookstores next to it.But Mubarak's reputation for having every publication of textbooks under its roof has muscle out the others. And taken over their space too.
Since it has expanded its store space.It is still crowded especially during the end of the year when parents rush to buy textbooks -last minute.

Anonymous said...

I think SS Mubarak was at Bras basah Road, opposite to where SMU School of Information Science. They might still be at the Bras basah Complex if I am not wrong.

Can you explain the difference between the "Standard" and "Form" thing that is used in malaysia as compared to our primary 1, 2, 3....

The only ones I have are the Geog and English textbooks (Ali, Kiew Teng and Gopal type) for primary school. You know the stench is so strong that after all these years it has remained. The stench is like a mix of sweat and rainwater. Then I recalled how did the stench come about - my canvas school box holding these textbooks got soaked in the rain one day and I forgot to dry them. For that my class teacher used a ruler to wack my head to remind me to be careful. Have you tried smelling your textbooks?

aiyah nonya said...

The Mubarak store in Ipoh .I think it is on Jln Bijih Timah,
previously known as Belfield Street.
It is at the corner of the road leading to the state mosque.Behind the store is the defunct UMBC(United Malaya Banking Corp).And futher down is the clock tower and the Old Post Office.

Standart 1-6 is equalvalent to the Primary 1-6 here.
Form 1-5 the same as Sec 1-5.Although we take our SPM at Form 5 - equalvalent to O'levels taken at Sec 4.
Form 6(lower and upper)will lead to STPM- the same as the A levels here.

Victor said...

Since 1966, several new elements have been discovered and added to the Periodic Table. When I was in Sec 4 in 1972, the total number of elements was 103, if I recall correctly. How come you did not ask your young readers (below 40 of age) to guess which are the new elements?

I think I used the same 'A' level Physics textbook too in 1973-74. In those days, they didn't change textbooks as often as they do now. Maybe there were not much new developments in the subjects then compared to now, hence textbooks need not be changed so often?

I also remember what was commonly called the "10-year series" which I bought from the old Bras Basah bookshops to do last-minute preparation for my 'O' level examination. For the sake of your younger readers, these books contained model answers to the past 10 years' examination papers in a particular subject.

Then there were the Minerva guides. These books explained the difficult-to-understand language used in Shakespearean plays like Julius Caesar in layman's language which I could understand.

Victor said...

BTW, can you refresh my memory - what are SI units?

Anonymous said...

Minerva Guide: was that not often written by Indian authors? Indians seem to be very good at literature stuff but the big problem, they are so flowery with words that sometimes we "catch no-balls"

Also Stamford College (City School of Commerce???)at Waterloo Street used to sell correspondence-tuition programs. If I can remember correctly, each program cost $100 and you submited your answers and the tutor will mail back the script to you.

Lam Chun See said...

Victor, pls don't embarass me with those type of questions. How can I test the youngsters on something I myself all blur about? But not so blur as not to know what is SI units. Just think MKS (metre-kg-sec) vs FPS (ft-lbs-sec).

Lam Chun See said...

Wah, Ipoh Girl. Your first sentence ("worst condition than his wife's and already been 'buang' long ago") have to be read very carefully.

My 'contrarian' friend, Victor is likely to come up with all sorts of interpretations.

And thanks for the info on Mubaruk. Maybe next time I go to Ipoh, I will check out the place before they tear it down. I think nowadays in Ipoh, they also like to tear down old landmarks. One example is the iconic Octagon shopping centre (八角楼 - hope I got that right). When I first went on a package tour of Malaysia in 1970, they brought us there when we made a stop at Ipoh.

Victor said...

>How can I test the youngsters on something I myself all blur about?

Aiyah, if you blur, you can ask your wife for the model answers mah.

>But not so blur as not to know what is SI units.

Haiz, seems like you are also blur on this one. I already know that it means Metric System lah. But my question was actually what does the abbreviation "SI" stand for?
Standard Interpretation? Hahaha.

Anonymous said...

A guy who hated physics, maths and science in general got in pure science stream - that was me - how misguided!. My former boss used to say: "How this guy (not me) is able to 'cheong' inside here? I really don't know". That was the irony of life, sometimes you 'cheong' into somewhere which you are not supposed to be in. Anyway, the old books I love best, in my primary school are 'the march of time and Malayan History. Oh! I love history and should be a historian, but what a pity I 'cheonged' into a wrong a wrong road, leading to a place that I should not be in, too late. I have to accept the unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Chun See's mention of Japanese technique of good housekeepng reminds me of the time when I was working as a civil servant in the goverment service. I believe it was in the 80s that all the government departments in the civil service received a directive from the Finance Ministry requring the civil servants to adopt the Japanese style of boosting productivity. At that time the Japanese ecomomy was in a state of
buoyancy. I remember distinctly the 3 ways(according to the finance circular)in which work
productivity could be increased.

(1) Before starting work and sitting down in the workstation do some physical exercise for 15 minutes.
(2) Set aside a day in a month to clear and dispose off all the unwantd files and rubbish in your workstation.We usually referred to this day as "spring cleaning day"
(3) The most difficult part,at least on my part was to fulfill the quota of 3 staff suggestons a month on how to increase the productivity in your work place. I tell you it's not easy as the suggestions must not be taken up by another person. Non or late submission of suggestion can result in a warning being issued.
I am wondering why nowadays there is less emphasis on japanese style of productivity. Maybe the Japanese
ecomony is not doing well.

eastcoastlife said...

Like your wife, I kept my old textbooks too but only the English textbooks la! I didn't take Physics and Chemistry when I was in secondary school becos I hate these subjects. From a pure-science class, I asked for a transfer to the Commerce class. I hate Principal of Accounts. hehe....

Anonymous said...

OMG, i chanced upon your blog. And guess opens a floodgate of memories for me. Good job. Will drop by often to read and reminisce. Thks for the memories

Unknown said...

Nice job on the textbooks. I remember the Nelkon Physics textbook and the Organic Chemistry texts too. Only thing is my edition probably looks a little different from your wife's.

I remember those days in school where we used to lug these weapons of mass education around, brandishing them whenever a difficult question is asked, underlining and highlighting the key points plus making little notes. Nowadays, it seems that more and more teaching is done using computers and the web, which I guess transforms the entire learning experience.

Victor said...

"The 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures (1960) adopted the name Système International d'Unités (International System of Units, international abbreviation SI), for the recommended practical system of units of measurement."

The above was extracted from this website. Now not so blur liao.

aiyah nonya said...

The Octagan 'pat kok lau'- had been torn down.A pity isn't it?All tourist remembers that place.The chinese characters you typed next to it ,I have no idea if it is right or wrong - sorry-lah I don't know Chinese.

Here is some rumours I heard.That present empty lot is going to be turned into a hawker center.The hawkers from in front the the old Odean cinema(behind the Sam Tet school) will be moving there.It seems the present landlord where the hawkers are presently located, wants that piece of land back.
Hopefully by your next visit you will be able to enjoy the new hawker center.

Lam Chun See said...

Welcome to Good Morning Yesterday (or GMY for short) Babyboomer. I hope you are retired and have plenty of time on your hands becos at GMY I have posted more than 140 articles, with help of my brother Chun Chew and friends from as far as England and Scotland. And not to mention lots for contributions from my blogofriends like Victor, Chris, Peter etc. in the comments sections.

If you get tired of GMY, you can hop over to the my "Friends of Yesterday" on my links section.

Aiyah Nonya. I think I have a photo of the old Odeon and Sam Tet you mentioned. Will post them shortly for your enjoyment.

Anonymous said...

It is quite contraditory. On one hand the authorities advocate students and the public to read more books, hence more libraries. On the other, they want all things to go the e-way. In other words, we should be a paperless society. Maybe, both ways can be complementary, and meanwhile more trees are being chopped down to make papers world-wide, causing environmental hazards.

Anonymous said...

I bought the organic chemistry book for $12 in 1979. Its was the bible for all university chemistry students back then. Book was printed in India but the binding quality wasn't very good. The ELBS book wasn't really cheap even though it says "low price edition". I bought it for $32. The two books and the periodic table is still sitting on my bookself at home, in better condition than your wife's ;)

Anonymous said...

During my primary six year, my father was then in dire financial straits, I decided to borrow some old-used text books from a rich cousin of mine, instead of buying new ones. To my surprise she discreetly brushed of my request. There and then, I told myself, that I shall try my level best to be financially independent in the future, and not to depend on the charity of other people. This has become my life-long guiding principle.

Anonymous said...

wow... didn't know these books had such long histories... In my case, we still used the Morrison & Boyd Organic Chemistry "bible" just less than 10 yrs ago at NUS, and also the Nelkon and Parker A-Level Physics (I remember the cover had a picture of an egg being cut by a laser) a few years before that. I think they should still be in print now... Newer editions of course... :)