facts about the invention of Hand-held Calculaors by Jack St.
Clair Kilby, Jerry D. Merryman and James H. Van Tassel in 1966.
In the early
1970s, the daily lives of people throughout the developed world were changed profoundly by
the advent of a small electronic machine that could per-form basic mathematical problems
much more quickly and more accurately than they could be worked out on paper. Calculators
expanded the math capabilities of everyone from high school students to businessmen.
The original compact calculator was the abacus, developed in China
in the ninth century. The young French mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) invented
the first adding machine in 1642, a clever device driven by gears and capable of
performing mechanical addition and subtraction. The first commercially successful adding
machine was developed in 1886 by William Seward Burroughs (1855-1898). The
"Millionaire," a machine invented by Otto Steiger in 1894, was the first adding
machine also capable of direct multiplication.
|The hand-held pocket calculator was
invented at Texas Instruments, Incorporated (TI) in 1966 by a development team which
included Jerry D. Merryman, James H. Van Tassel and Jack St. Clair Kilby. In 1974 a basic
patent for miniature electronic calculators has been issued to Texas Instruments
Incorporated. The patent is for personal-sized, battery-operated calculators which have
their main electronic circuitry in a single integrated semiconductor circuit array, such
as the popular "one-chip" calculators.
|This represents another in a
series of landmark developments at Texas Instruments directly relating to miniature
calculators. In 1958, Texas Instruments invented the first
subsequently patented in 1964. This key innovation resulted in dramatic change in
virtually all areas of electronics equipment design, including calculators.
This was followed by major developments fundamental to MOS/LSI
integrated circuitry - the basic technology behind today's miniature calculators. Two key
patents on MOS/LSI were awarded to TI in 1972. A third significant milestone was the
introduction by TI in 1971 of the "calculator-on-a-chip" MOS/LSI circuit which
became the heart of modern, miniature calculators.
The miniature calculator described in the new TI patent was
the result of work done at TI in the mid-60s. The patent (Number 3,819,921), originally
filed in 1967, was awarded to TI June 25, 1974. This miniature calculator (the world's
first) employed a large-scale integrated semiconductor array containing the equivalent of
thousands of discrete semiconductor devices. Measuring 4-1/4 x 6-1/8 x 1-3/4-inches, it
was the first mini-calculator to have the high degree of computational power found only at
the time in considerably larger machines.
The working heart of the first miniature calculator was an
integrated semiconductor circuit array that contained all the necessary electronics for
performing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Other elements of this
early example of the miniature calculator included a small keyboard with 18 keys and a
visual display in the form of a semiconductor thermal printer for printing out
calculations of up to 12 decimal digits.
Since the invention of this first miniature calculator,
semiconductor technology has had a dramatic impact on the electronic calculator industry
with ever-decreasing prices characteristic of this new breed of computational machines.
These price reductions have been a result of advances in solid-state technology and
economies of large-scale calculator manufacturing.
Evolving over the years since 1966 has been a trend toward
more complex calculator integrated circuits with resulting semiconductor economies and
lower prices to end-use customers. The 1966 business calculator version retailing for
$2000 contained over a thousand discrete semiconductors such as transistors and resistors
with a cost of $170.
In 1968, integrated circuits (ICs) began finding their
niche in business calculators with a typical selling price of $1000. These initial IC
models had 90 ICs at a cost of $125. Integrated circuit application, therefore, reduced
the cost of parts as well as having a substantial impact on parts handling and assembling.
With the advent of MOS/LSI in 1970 early portable
calculators using more than one major IC and priced at around $300 to $500 were produced
using LSI circuits. TI's single MOS/LSI "calculator-on-a-chip" IC in 1971
heralded the age of the low-cost consumer handheld calculator and ignited the burgeoning
electronic calculator market.
Computing from The Great Idea
Kilby, Inventor Profile
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1983) / Bluewood Books
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a
really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
ON THE WEB:
Innovation at Texas Instruments
Electronic Hand-Held Calculator
The Museum of HP Calculators
The Museum of HP Calculators displays and describes Hewlett-Packard calculators introduced
from 1968 to 1986 plus a few interesting later models.
Much to see at the chip collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of America.
Vintage Calculators Web
A celebration of old calculators showing the evolution from mechanical calculator to hand
held electronic calculator.
On-Line Math Tools -- and Activities to Use With Them!
WHERE TO FIND:
PLUS Graphic Calculator
byTexas Instruments / ASIN: B00001N2QU / Less than $100
The addition of the optional TI Graph-link (software and cable) allows you to
connect the calculator to your computer, permitting the transfer of files and data between
DID YOU KNOW?
- The pocket calculator went on the market on September 21,
1972, as the TI-2500 and was capable of addition, subtraction, multiplication and
division. It had a floating decimal point and an eight-digit, light-emitting-diode (LED)
display. The Tl-2500 measured 5.5 x 3 x 1.7 inches (14 x 7.6 x 4.3 cm) and weighed 12
ounces (.34 kg). The original TI-2500 retailed for $120, but within a few years equivalent
machines were retailing for under $10.
- Even for the public-at-large, the calculator made an
impressive impact. It was one of the earliest direct exposures to digital electronics,
and, in retrospect, can be seen as a prelude to the age of the personal computer. Indeed,
the famous story is told of how Steven Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard programmable
calculator to scrape together enough money to launch Apple Computers.
Sources in BOLD Type
page revised January, 2005.
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The invention of the Internet,
should be classed with the greatest events of the 20th Century.
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