The Calculator

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The Calculator

The Calculator

The first known calculator would be the human brain itself. The human brain was a mental calculator, allowing us to calculate and solve simple and basic math problems. Combined with our fingers, to count with and keep track of numbers, we could perform and solve basic math problems. However, because education was limited and poor before the 1960s, the "mental calculator" could not perform as complex math problems as people can today.

The abacus was the first manual calculator. It was created by many different civilizations with different versions. There is controversy over whom invented the first abacus. Due to trade, these ideas and inventions would have passed between civilizations, making it very difficult to pinpoint where it originated. The device appeared during 3000 BC, it is used with the idea of place value. For example, the Chinese abacus would have been shared with the Koreans and Japaneses through trade. However, civilizations like the Incas created their own abacus without the influence of other civilizations, this is probably due to the need of something to keep track of livestock and to calculate taxes.

The calculator is a device to aid with both basic operations of arithmetic and complex mathematical operations. The device was created to aid with calculations the price of goods, taxes for the government and the dimensions for temples and monuments during the birth of many new civilizations. After many years of progress and improvement, the device is electric and pocket-sized. The device has been deeply intertwined into one's daily life, from the stock market to the GPS satellites in space. The world needs calculators to operate.

Before large civilizations existed, humans used bones or stones to carve tally marks in them to count and keep track. Due to limited need and demand, innovation and the creation of the first manual calculator would have to come later, though many different versions will come from many different civilizations. The counting would be the next thing to calculators. The counting table is just like a big tally board, but it uses beads or pebbles like and abacus. The oldest known counting board is Salamis Tablet dating back to 300 BC and created by the Greeks.

During the Renaissance in 1642, the mechanical calculator was invented. The calculator was able to preform all four arithmetic operations with almost no intervention of a human. This would be huge jump by saving time, mental effort and avoiding mistakes made during the calculation. Due to the push for science during the Renaissance, more advanced calculators were required to calculate more complex problems. These calculators required you to set a number using a dial, a small lever or, in later years, buttons with numbers for each one. They would use the system from Napier's Bones (a tool for multiplication and division by John Napier of Merchiston) and the Leibniz Wheel (a two-gear system to transfer the numbers inputed by the person created by Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz).

Calculators were becoming smaller as time passed. The Curta Calculator was a small hand held calculator that could fit inside your pocket. It was created Curt Herzstark of Austria in 1948. This was a very popular calculator, however in 1957, the Casio Computer Company in Japan released the first ever electric calculator. This would lead to a new competitive market for many companies. New technologies like vacuum fluorescent display, LED lights and solar panels would eventually lead to the current calculator.

Calculators have become more accurate and able to crunch bigger numbers as time passes. These calculators are used in GPS satellites to calculate your location, the stock market to calculate the rise and fall in prices every millisecond and by kids in school who are learning math. These devices have become extremely intertwined within human society. Without them, social order may collapse. However this creation has been improved over the centuries helping us with basic problems to now everyday functions. This device helped us unlock technologies we could never create without them. Satellites, airplanes, the Internet, these things exist because there is a device that can calculate numbers at large amounts and rapidly. It shaped human history.

By: Kevin Hua


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