# Calculator - The First Calculators, Early Calculators, Difference Engine, Patents, Electronic Predecessor To Computer, Inside Calculators

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advanced basic machine computing

The calculator is a computing machine. Its purpose is to do **mathematics**; basic calculators do the basic mathematical functions (**addition**, **subtraction**, **division**, and **multiplication**) while the more advanced ones, which are relatively new in the history of computing machines, do advanced calculations such as solving **polynomials**. The odometer, or mileage counter, in your car is a counting machine as is the calculator in your backpack and the computer on your desk. They may have different ability levels, but they all tally numbers.

## Additional Topics

Perhaps the earliest calculating machine was the Babylonian rod numerals. Not only was it a notational device, but administrators carried rods of bamboo, ivory, or iron in bags to help with their calculations. Rod numerals used nine digits (Figure 1). A simple abacus has rows (or wires) and each row has ten beads. Each row represents a unit ten greater than the previous. Thus, the first stands for…

Schickard, a German professor and Protestant minister, seems to have been the first to create an adding machine in the 1620s. It performed addition, subtraction, and carrying through the use of gears and preset multiplication tables. The machine only computed numbers up to six digits. Once the operator surpassed this limit, he was required to put a brass ring around his finger to remind him how ma…

The great English mathematician Charles Babbage tried to build a machine which would calculate mathematical tables to 26 significant figures; he called it the Difference Engine. However, in the early 1820s his plans were stalled when the British government pulled its funding. His second attempt, in the 1830s, failed because some of the tools he needed had yet to be invented. Despite this, Babbage …

The first patent for a calculating machine was granted to the American Frank Stephen Baldwin in 1875. Baldwin's machine did all four basic mathematical functions and did not need to be reset after each computation. The second patent was given in 1878 to Willgodt Theophile Odhner from Sweden for a machine of similar design to Baldwin's. The modern electronic calculators are based on B…

In 1938, the International Business Machine Corporation (IBM) team of George Stibitz and S. B. Williams began building the Complex Number Calculator. It could add, subtract, multiply, and divide complex numbers. They completed the project in 1940 and until 1949 these calculators were used by Bell Laboratories. It was the first machine to use remote stations (terminals, or input units, not next to …

The early counting machines, items like the car's odometer, work with a set of gears and wheel. A certain number of wheels are divided in 10 equal parts on each of which one of the 10 digits appears. (Windows are placed on top of these wheels so that only one digit appears at a time.) These wheels are then attached to gears which as they turn rotate the wheel so that the digit being display…

At the end of 1947, the transistor was invented, eventually making the vacuum tube obsolete. This tiny creation, composed of semiconductors, were much faster and less energy consumptive than the tubes. Problems arose with the connections between the components with size, speed, and reliability as more complex machines needed more complex circuitry which in turn required more components soldered to…

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## User Comments

about 8 years ago

panget