Article Summary: "The very first calculator
was a Pascaline adding and subtracting machine created by Pascal in 1642,
so calculators have been around for a long time - almost 400 years. Calculators
have come a long way through the technological evolution stages; the question
is what will they look like 400 years from now?"
The very first calculator was a Pascaline adding and subtracting machine created by Pascal in 1642, so calculators have been around for a long time - almost 400 years. The interesting connection with Pascal's calculator is little has changed since then, as far as how numbers are calculated. The difference today is the speed and variety computations that can be completed with a calculator.
The golden age of calculators began in the 1800's. Technological and mechanical challenges were faced by all those who developed early calculators. These limitations often caused early calculators to not function correctly, if at all. However, in the 1800's technological and mechanical capabilities had advanced enough for reliable mechanical calculators to be built and operated. Some of these included:
In the 1900's the golden age of calculators continued and began taking on the familiar shape we use today.
The golden age of calculators continued until the 1960's, since they were mechanical devices requiring the entering numbers in specific sequences to accomplish the desired mathematical computation. Most even had the mechanical handle you pulled during various parts of the computations to eventually wind up with the desired result.
In the 1960's everything began to change as soon as transistors and other technological components could be made small enough to fit in portable calculator devices. The first electronic calculators began to appear:
Calculators continued to evolve and became smaller and more sophisticated in their ability complete complex computations.
From the 1970's through to 1990 a market war was waged by many companies trying to enter the handheld calculator business. In 1990 there were only four major companies left:
Beginning in the 1990's through today, the number of handheld calculators has exploded onto the market. They include graphing calculators and specialty scientific calculators. Due to the technological advances, the price of calculators has decreased significantly. The first calculators built in the 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's which could just simply do the four basic math computations would cost thousands of dollars today. Today you can get a calculator that completes these same basic functions for less than a dollar.
Calculators have come a long way through the technological evolution stages; the question is what will they look like 400 years from now?