Evolution of the Calculator

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Evolution of the Calculator

The Abacus was used by Sumerians and Egyptians around 2000 BC. It was a frame holding a series of rods, with ten sliding beads on each. When all the beads had been slid across the first rod, you move on the next, showing the number of tens, and then to the next rod, showing hundreds, and so on.

#1:The AbacusAncient Times

Evolution of the Calculator

#2:The Slide Rule1620

The Slide Rule was invented by William Gunter. He developed a logarithmic rule for multiplication and division using dividers, which was the forerunner of the slide rule. The slide rule is used primarily for multiplication and division, and also for functions such as roots, logarithms and trigonometry, but is not normally used for addition or subtraction.

#3: Calculating Clock1623

The Calculating Clock was the first mechanical calculator ever, and it was invented by Willhelm Schickard. The machine had only 6 digits and could add, subtract, multiply and divide. A set of Napier’s Bones was also attached to the Clock in order to perform the mathematical operations. To indicate when the calaculation produced a result too large for the machine to represent, a bell would ring.

#4:The Pin-wheel1872

The Pinwheel was invented by Frank Baldwin from the USA. It had a set of pinwheels that had an adjustable number of teeth. These wheels could be set by using a side lever which could expose anywhere from 0 to 9 teeth. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division could be done by the revolving drums. For addition they revolved in one direction, and for subtraction the direction was reversed. For multiplication the revolutions were repeated in the same direction as for addition, and for division they were repeated in the same direction as for subtraction. Two sets of dials provided a means of reading totals.


The Comptometer was invented by Dorr Eugene Felt. The calculator was the first successful key-driven adding and calculating machine. The machine can add, subtract, multiply and divide really quickily. Comptometers were available in 8, 10, 12 and even 16-column versions. On each key of the Comptometer, there were 2 numbers, the large one for addition and the smaller one for subtraction. However, the basic function of the machine was addition. There is a column of keys (in general 1-9) for each decade. When a key is pressed, that number is added to that decade, with carry to the next higher decade, if applicable. Pulling the handle forwards clears the total to zero.

#6: Scientific Calculator2005

In 2005, CASIO launched the fx-9860G scientific calculator featuring graphing and natural mathematical display. This calculator can add, subtract, mulitply, and divide, as well as other functions related to science, engineering, and mathematics.


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