Tag Archives: Garr Reynolds

Do you remember “calculator spelling” – making upside-down words from numbers?

I hadn’t done this silly juvenile thing for years – but I was trying to help my 8-year-old son Orlando settle into  his new school. To take his mind off his shyness I showed him something that was “cool” when I was a kid – calculator spelling.

You should have seen the big smile beam across his face! I showed him 0.7734.

0.7734 – on calculator displays looks like HELLO.


O T leaning tower

Then of course there were all the silly  and juvenile schoolboy type words like 8008 and 58008 and 55378008!

 As I said – this hadn’t crossed my mind in ages – calculator spelling that is  – not 58008!


Trying to be a “Cool Dad” – Here’s  how uncool dad looked back in the 70s when long hair and calculator spelling were popular. I loved those days of the old schoolyard!

Orlando loves hearing stories about the “olden days”!

Did you ever do “naughty” calculator spelling like this?


Ohhh we were so cheeky at high school!

I discovered on the internet that there are so many references to the phenomenon of calculator spelling and so many pop cultural references (especially on shows with “nerd”-type characters – BIg Bang Theory etc). Even Metal bands and also The Hollies use calculator spelling!

I was also amused to find out it even has a technical term:  beghilos Z

Why beghilos Z?

– because those are the letter characters you can make with upside down numbers.


And you can make different words in different languages. Apparently it is an international phenomenon.

Who woulda thought!

I’ll share more  about the pop cultural significance of calculator spelling in Part Deux!

So who is writing this and why is he so keen on retro?

Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti and I love retro or vintage (if you prefer to call it that!)


I now work in an often serious job – helping people with serious communication tasks and challenges – and I’ve found  you can connect with people from all different parts of the world and in different parts of businesses through the power of COMMON experiences and the power of RETRO.

TB NASA story

I’ve connected with:

– super-smart computer and engineering types through mutual memories of Star Wars and model planes and rocketships

– top female execs through a common love of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet

– serious senior army officers and former officers through a common love of Airfix models, toy soldiers, and even 80s drum kit sounds

-a very senior and clean-cut Singaporean exec who turned out to be a massive fan of punk, the Sex Pistols and The Clash from his days studying in the UK.

This responsible and mature exec’s  passion for and knowledge of “punk” caught me by surprise!

He became so engaged, enthused and  full of youthful energy in the session. (You just can’t tell people by their appearance. The more senior people get in organisations the more conservative and alike they all look!)

IO + toy soldiers

(My son loves my collection of toy soldiers – glad I kept them!)

Discussing common retro passions can help create commonality, make training more enjoyable, and connect with the human side of people.

Common passions (especially for retro)  builds credibility and connection.

Lots of my presentation and communication heroes like Guy Kawasaki and Garr Reynolds reveal their retro passions – especially for Star Wars. And they both have a habit of quoting from movies and 80s songs!

My point is  – RETRO is not just about the past and childish passions. RETRO can help you connect and forge FUTURE relationships. RETRO is so powerful.

I’m a very active blogger and the things that get the biggest response are usually about “little things” that bring back strong and positive memories.


If you ever need any communication help, I can help you harness your creativity and hook attention with lots of tips from everyday life for  boosting creativity and hooking attention in everyday situations.

I can also help you improve your presentations and business writing.

I can share with you practical and easy-to-apply tips I’ve gathered over many years working as a:

  • TV journalist
  • political speechwriter
  • lawyer
  • blogger
  • musician and performer
  • coach and trainer in persuasionpositive messagespresenting and better e-mail and business writing.

I’m also a very busy dad and husband juggling my work and travel with family life and our two wonderful kids – Orlando and Cleo.

You can contact me on tonybiancotti@ozemail.com.au    or on Linked In or Facebook. Tony is of course short for Anthony .