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"I'm a fairly visual thinker. In doing science, I think in terms of pictures of things happening, and then do the mathematics."
- Gregory Benford

Calster  
  A handheld device that printed legal currency on the spot.  

In the future world of the novel, most of life's necessities are free. However, luxury goods or experiences still cost something. To pay, you use a small box that prints currency for you, right on the spot.

The robot hung up, and I did not have time to ask where I was supposed to look for the calster. I had no idea what it looked like. Getting up from the desk, which, abandoned, immediately shrank and shriveled up, I saw a kind of stand growing out of the wall next to the door; on it lay a flat object wrapped in transparent plastic and resembling a small cigarette case. On one side it had a row of little windows, in them showed the number 1100 1000. At the bottom were two tiny buttons labeled "1" and "0." I looked at it, puzzled, until I realized that the sum of 5000 had been entered in the binary system. I pressed the one and a small plastic triangle with the number one stamped on it fell into my hand. This, then, was a kind of stamping machine or press for money, up to the amount indicated in the Windows - the number at the top decreased by a unit.
From Return from the Stars, by Stanislaw Lem.
Published by Not known in 1961
Additional resources -

This is a strange sort of an idea, although it makes the future seem more real when computerized credit cannot pay for everything.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Return from the Stars
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