The History of The Calculator

The History of The Calculator

Many people see the calculator as a life-enhancing piece of equipment, and while it is a modern-day marvel, the calculator's history stretches back through the centuries. The calculators that most of us take advantage of every day via our phones, laptops and handheld calculators have the luxury of computer chips working out both basic and complex sums on our behalf and in the blink of an eye.

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We have become so reliant on calculators that many of us get thrown by simple maths calculations. Don’t believe it? Well, what is 1000 + 20 + 30 + 1000 + 1030 + 1000 + 20? Did you really just add that up to 5000? If you did, you were wrong and it's actually 4100!  So now we have just shown you how much a calculator helps, let’s take a look at the history behind it.

The very first mechanical calculator used was at around 2000BC by the Egyptians and was known as an abacus. The abacus consisted of beads and rods which were manually moved to work out calculations. Each rod contained 10 beads and was separated into multiplied quantities. The first rod was 1’s, the second rod was 10’s, then there were 100’s, 1000’s, and millions. The abacus remained unchanged for over 3500 years before the next calculator was discovered.

The slide rule was the next big thing in the calculation and for the oldies out there, you will probably remember having to master this at school. The slide rule consisted of several rotating disks using logarithmic scales to work out equations quickly.

The 1930’s welcomed in the age of the business calculator, which was designed in Japan. The business calculator is really the first calculator that we would easily recognise as being so today, even if it was a huge and bulky desktop machine. By 1967 the first pocket calculators were born and this is when things really started to speed up. The pocket calculator is still very much used today and its design is what we use on our mobile phones, tablets, and personal computers on a daily basis.

The future of calculators is set to see handheld devices which can print off your equations and answers instantly via a receipt like system and apps for smart technology are forever integrating calculators into more and more sophisticated ways. There is even an app which you can use to scan equations and it will recognise what it needs to do, and will work out the answer and show you the steps of how it got to the answer.The calculator has helped us advance in many different ways, including economically and educationally.

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