Math has troubled man since ancient times. It is a necessity. Yet numbers grew and grew. They were seemingly limited only by human imaginations. But human imagination can and calculating can only go so far before our brain quits on us and yells There has to be an easier way!
Various devices were created for this purpose. The first was the abacus. It was a wooden device with beads that a person moved up and down according to his desired calculation. It worked great! – For simple arithmetic. But as math advanced and algebra, calculus and trigonometry began to be used, the abacus could not keep up.
For these far more complex calculations, mechanical and then electronic devices were invented. Astronomical calculations were done using astrolabes, which were used by the ancient Greeks. During the 1600s, logarithmic equations necessitated the creation of the slide rule. In 1642, Blaise Pascal created a mechanical calculator. The mechanical calculator continued to be developed until the arrival of electronic components, which changed the way it would be designed.
However, in the early transition to electronic calculators, the two looked the same. They were relatively large machines. You could bring them with you in a handheld case. These machines resembled typewriters a lot. However the use of electronics promised that these machines could become smaller as soon as the transistors and circuit boards could be shrunk in size.
By 1970, those transistors had shrunk and handheld calculators were born. It still couldn’t be called a pocket calculator because it couldn’t fit into a pocket. But it no longer required a small suitcase to bring it. It was light and it fit easily into a bag. Many manufacturers and semiconductor companies helped create this change. There was Texas Instruments, Sharp Corporation, North-American Rockwell Microelectronics, Busicom, General Instrument, Mostek, Sanyo and Intel.
A year later the first truly pocket calculator was introduced. It was made by Busicom, the LE-120A HANDY. It was made in Japan and it had many other firsts. It was the first calculator to sport an LED display, it was the first to use a single integrated circuit and it was the first to use replaceable batteries.
Calculators continued to be developed. Programmable or scientific calculators were very much in demand. Mathematicians and engineers still used the slide rule but in 1972 Hewlett-Packard released the HP-35, the first hand-held scientific calculator. The slide rule became a thing of the past,
Calculators became ubiquitous. Everyone had one. They are still very useful today but they were eclipsed by the rise of the computers.About the Author
Jonathan Russell is an artist and blogger that has been writing articles on many different topics for the last 2 years. You can find him contributing articles at http://www.vintagemobilephones.org, a website dedicated to the hobby of collecting vintage mobile phones. Use and distribution of this article is subject to our Publisher Guidelines
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