This was a fun resource and I have my friend Carl Frank for sharing it.
Count on old-school fun with these new calculator emulations
I’m old enough to remember when calculators were banned in school. Bring one in and use it on a test and you automatically flunked. It really wasn’t a problem; those first calculators were so expensive that I certainly didn’t have one. If my memory serves me correctly, there was only one person in my class did. He was a good guy and would never use it on a test.
We all bought into the concept that doing mental mathematics or working it out on pencil and paper would give us life skills forever. Actually, that part is correct and it does have an application in real life, particularly at the grocery store. It is so valuable these days. Prices seem to change daily.
But, back then, we did everything manually except for the higher end mathematics and we had a unit on using a slide rule to learn those skills!
I went to university to study Mathematics and Computer Science and my dad bought me my first calculator. It could do all the basic operations, + – * ÷ AND, it could do square roots and had a memory to store one number.
I remember a professor at university who, in Statistics, told us to get a good calculator if we wanted to go far. So, I did! She also recommended one with RPN (Reverse Polish Notation or postfix operators) and I did. On her recommendation, I bought a Hewlett-Packard HP-21.
Thanks, HP Museum – https://www.hpmuseum.org/hp21.htm
I think I still have it somewhere but the battery is long dead. Learning RPN took a while but it was so worth it – actually it’s worth it still today. You don’t buy calculators these days; you just download an app and most certainly I have.
Lest I get too far off track, the article that Carl shared talked about new additions of calculators to the Internet Archive. There are a few Hewlett-Packards and Texas Instrument calculators. They all come with graphic screens. I never had that luxury. The TI were very popular in my classes when I taught secondary school. I don’t recall any of them having RPN though; they were arithmetic in operation which made it easy to just pick it up and use it.
It’s funny, as I clicked though and checked them out.
They do really look old-school as noted in the title of the post.
And, they were relatively expensive at the time. At university, only engineering and mathematics students seemed to have them. We always got chosen to be the group in psychology classes because we had a calculator and could work the numbers on projects.
Nowadays, a calculator is thrown in when you buy a computer or a phone. This is the one that came with this Chromebook.
Of course, I had to download an RPN calculator.
You can always tell an RPN calculator from others because there’s no = key. You just read the register or roll up/roll down to get your results.
I wish I could say that I use it frequently but honestly, I don’t. Everyone knows, I hope, that all you need to do is open a new tab in your browser and type the expression you want solved and voila. Or, speak to your smartphone and watch the answer appear.
I thought that this was so appropriate these days as people are predicting the end of the world with artificial intelligence utilities. In my lifetime, I’ve gone from banning, purchasing, upgrading, and now using my computer or phone if I need to solve something.
It was fun to reminisce about old calculators. Do you remember your first calculator?
I’ll save you a click – in 2016, it made a Sunday morning “Whatever happened to …” post. Have I really been blogging for seven years?