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According to Merriam-Webster, the word calculator means, and I quote, "a: a usually electronic device for performing mathematical calculations, b: a person who operates a calculator. Whether in grammar school, high school, college, or a graduate, a calculator probably fell in your hands at least once or twice. Before the calculator, many people counted on their fingers, toes, sheep, rocks, and shells; however, we know this can only get you so far. Throughout this article, I will share the evolution of calculators and how we can count in our heads.
To understand the calculator, we must learn about the first adding machine, which came out in 1623 and was called the calculating clock by William Schickard. His device works by a multiplying piece or a specific mechanism to record intermediate results and six-digit decimals adding device. The device was nowhere as easy as today's calculators, as there were several things you had to do to get the correct answer.
Correct calculators were mechanical devices hundreds of years before they became digital. The first functional calculator came about in 1773 by Philip Matthäus Hahn. According to the History of Computers Website, he built this machine to help him calculate the parameters of clocks and planetariums. In 1820 came the first commercially produced mechanical calculator, the Arithmometer, by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar. According to IBM, this was the first commercial mechanical calculator that could perform all four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Thomas also based his design, as previous inventors, on the stepped drum mechanism of Leibniz. This machine was unique in that it had a second display area for subtraction, division, and multiplication, which were separate gears.
1954 arrived, and in that year, the first all-transistor calculator was announced by IBM and was called the IBM 608. The IBM 608 machine comprised several cabinets and sold for $83,210 or could be rented at $1,720.00 /month. The main memory of this machine could store 40 nine-digit numbers and produce 4,500 additions per second as well as other math operations. Did you know the IBM 608 had more than 3000 germanium resistors? Germanium was used because it only needed tiny amounts of A/C signal voltage in many small circuit applications.
1961 appeared, and now Bell Punch released the first all-electronic desktop calculator called the ANITA MK-8. Vintage Calculators Museum said it was a vacuum-based calculator with over 170 cold cathode vacuum tubes, Dekatron decade counter tube, and a Numicator/display indicator tube. When Anita first came, the name was only intended for use during the development process, but because it became so much of the brand by release time, it just stuck.
When 1967 rolled in, we finally had our first-hand help calculator called Cal Tech by Texas Instruments (TI). This device was a 45-ounce calculator that featured a small keyboard with 18 keys and a visual output to display up to 12 decimal points. According to the National Museum of American History, the calculator was released to the public in 1971, but the 1967 prototype device can still be found in the Smithsonian.
Yes, in 1971, we could officially have a pocket-size calculator easy to take with us, and it was called Busicom LE-120A "HANDY" by Busicom. According to Vintage Calculator Web Museum, this calculator was the first to use a "calculator on a chip" integrated circuit. The Busicom had a 12-digit display in red LED and sold for around $395.00 when it was first put on the market in January of 1971. Since this was one of the most expensive calculators at the time, it came with a strap you could wear to prevent it from being dropped and getting damaged.
HP jumped into action in 1974 and announced the first hand-held programmable calculator called the HP-65, according to HP Museum. They referred to this as a personal computer, the calculator that allows users to write programs up to 100 lines long or buy them on pre-purchased cards. This device also allowed the user to customize 35 of the programmable keys that would be responsible for controlling over 80 various operations. Did you know the HP-65 was the first calculator to support base conversion like decimal, octal, etc.? When this calculator was launched in 1974, it sold for about $795.00. Did you know the HP-65 was the first hand-held calculator in outer space? Bill Hewlett even specified that the calculator needed to fit in his shirt pocket, thus the reason for the tapered contoured look.
With more students taking calculus, differential equations, and other courses that required the power of graphing in your pocket on the go caused, Casio's first graphic calculator was called the Casio fx-7000G. This calculator had 82 scientific functions, and its display could toggle from 8 to 16 lines, each being 64x96, using a dot matrix display. The Casiofx-700G was built with 422 bytes of memory and could store up to ten programs, one per each of the 10 slots they allocated for them.
Calculators that one could fit in their shirt pocket were no longer a wish but something that was here. What could be better; how about the first Graphic Calculator with Touch Functionality created by Sharp in 2003 and was called the SHARP E-9650? Everyone who has heard the word touch immediately expected you to use your finger, but Sharp had the first tethered stylus for their graphing calculator.
With Casio raising the bar to create the first Graphing color calculator, the expectation for the science calculator had changed. Since this calculator was a fad that died out quickly, Casio announced the First Color Graphing Calculator in 2010, called the Casio Prizm. The Prizm supported 216 x 384, full resolution, and you and TI 2011 released the Texas Instrument: TI-NSpireCX.
Did you know the TI calculator TI-Nspire CX II CAS Color Graphing Calculator with Student Software (PC/Mac) is still recommended by professors today? The TI-Nspire CX II sells for about $150.00, which has a Color Screen. The screen size is 320 x 240 pixels (3.5 inches diagonal), and the screen resolution is 125 DPI, 16-bit color. They even loaded it with a Rechargeable battery that lasts up to two weeks on a single charge. Students love it because of its sleek, thin design, intuitive touchpad navigation, and quick alpha keys. This model even supports six different graphing styles with 15 colors.
Did you know you can count in your head? The more you use your head, the more you develop your abilities and build confidence to grow them. It gets easier the more you exercise your mind's muscles. You can also do the math from left to right instead of the traditional left to right. So the next time you pick up a calculator, I want you to be grateful for how it involved from a large machine to pocket size and now a very mini graphing, equation-solving mini-computer. However, it is imperative that the next time you go into a store, to do the math in your head to see what change you should get without a calculator.