Free Research Proposal On How Calculators Function
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Man has always been a curious being. This curiosity has advanced the mankind from the Stone Age to the robot age. One significant milestone in this journey was learning how to calculate. We started out with using stones and sticks, then progressing on to using slide rules, creating machines like abacus, until we finally stepped onto a Calculator. According to a research by psychologist George Miller, on an average, we can only remember 5-9 digits and then kicks in our tendency to get tired and forget (Miller, 1956). This makes the calculator one of the most significant inventions till date. Even though we have walked past them onto computers in the modern age, how that journey was greatly aided by calculators and how, since their invention, our lives were never the same still piques my interest, making Calculators and their functioning my subject for the research.
The word calculator is derived from a Latin word calculare, meaning to count with the help of stones. Until late 20th century, mechanical calculators, which calculated with the use of gears and levers, were highly popular. The development of silicon chips and modern microchips gave them a complete makeover – making the calculations electronic and reducing their size immensely, among other changes. The steady progress of times brought in our hands scientific calculators that were capable of computing various complex mathematical functions including trigonometric and other scientific computations. A programmable calculator is its other sibling, which took calculation to a whole new level.
But what most of us do not know about calculators is how they function internally to make our lives easy everyday and how modern day calculators shaped up from stones and sticks. This research paper will begin by looking at the evolution and history of calculators, proceeding with what is inside a calculator. The internal circuitry of calculators have seen a sky change from the early 19th century ones to the modern day chip based calculators that we carry in our bags today. Axles, rods, gears, and levers of the early versions of the calculator have been replaced by a microchip that does all the hard work, and is believed to do the same amount of work as hundreds of gears in the early calculators. We will also be looking at different transition stages of the calculators and their anatomy, starting from mechanical calculators, the business calculators, valve and tube calculators, transistor based calculators, to the microchip-based calculators of the virtual age, progressing onto the ones based on semi conductors, and the modern day pocket calculators. We have also had calculators that could plot the graphs and solve complex equations.
In this modern age where everything is connected with each other, calculators do not lag behind. In this paper, after we attain a good understanding on their timeline of evolution, we will discuss about their integration with other mobile devices, like mobile phones, watches and other smart devices, and how they ended up becoming an integral part of their Operating Systems, rather than just being a hardware add-on.
The concluding stages of the paper will have a look at the future of the calculators in this modern age of information. As mentioned in the beginning, we have stepped past calculators in the age of computers that are capable of doing anything that a sane human mind can comprehend. But we have been practically unable to detach ourselves completely from the calculators. This paper will draw a clear picture on the factors that are keeping the calculators alive. By the end of this research, the reader will have a fair idea on the history, present and the expected future of the calculators.
Free, J. (1974). Those incredible new scientific pocket calculators. Popular Science.
How does a human calculator do it? (2007). BBC News UK.
Valentine, N. (2014, March 24). THE HISTORY OF THE CALCULATOR. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
Swade, D. (2002). The Difference Engine: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer. Penguin Books.
Miller, G. (1956). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. The Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.
Bourne, M. (2015). How does a Calculator work? Retrieved from http://www.intmath.com/series-expansion/3-how-calculator-works.php on March 28, 2015.
Woodford, Chris. (2007) Calculators. Retrieved from http://www.explainthatstuff.com/calculators.html on March 28, 2015.
Vintage Calculators Web Museum. (2015). Retrieved March 28, 2015, from http://www.vintagecalculators.com
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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