NATS 1700 Lecture Notes - Cigarette Pack, Root Mean Square, Socalled

19 views30 pages
Published on 13 Oct 2012
School
York University
Department
Natural Science
Course
NATS 1700
Page:
of 30
Lecture 4.
The World of Calculators: from office equip-
ment to pocket gadgets
Informal and unedited notes, not for distribution. (c) Z. Stachniak, 2011.
Note: in the case when I was unable to find the primary source of an image or
determine whether or not an image is copyrighted, I have specified the source as
”unknown”. I will provide full information about images and/or obtain reproduc-
tion rights when such information is available to me.
Introduction
In the 17th, 18th, and the first half of the 19th century the dominating and
prevailing calculating aids were:
pen-and-paper methods (algorithms);
abacus (in its variety of forms);
mathematical tables.
To fully recognize the significance of these calculating methods and aids, one
needs only to mention that the pen-and-paper methods are taught at schools
for this day, that the abacus is frequently used to teach numbers and count-
ing to pre-school children, and that printed tables with data are still in use
in a number of areas.
It would be the historical role of the digital electronic calculators and, in par-
ticular the hand-held (or pocket) calculators to relegate most of the mathe-
matical tables and abacus-like devices to historical relics of computing housed
in museums and private collections.
1
The birth of the office calculator industry
The industrial revolution brought new manufacturing methods and with
them the ability to produce good quality precision instruments and mechan-
ical devices, such as calculators, in large quantities. In the first half of the
19th century, an increasing number of calculators were offered commercially
but their use was not widely spread.
It all changed in the second half of the 19th century, first in Europe and,
later, in America when large businesses, agencies, and institutions, such as
treasuries or banks, were expanding fast, putting more and more people into
their offices. It became evident that ever increasing number of calculation
tasks could not be handled cost-effectively without appropriate calculating
aids.
While institutions were looking for efficient ways for conducting their busi-
ness, inventors and entrepreneurs were determined to supply them with all
sorts of office gadgets. In the second half of the 19th century, mechanical
office equipment became an essential infrastructure of a modern business.
The first typewriters appeared in the early 19th century and the first wave
of useful calculators soon after in Europe and a few decades later in America.
By the end of the 19th century, calculators would not be viewed as me-
chanical curiosities any more but as useful devices enhancing human abilities
in a vast range of applications.
2
Thomas Arithmometer
Among the first commercially produced adding machines was the Arith-
mometer built by Thomas de Colmar of Alsace around 1820. Thomas Arith-
mometres were never produced in large quantities (some sources estimate
that in the first 50 years no more than 1500 were manufactured). They were
expensive and too slow for performing a large number of arithmetic opera-
tions in an office as the calculators required setting numbers using all sorts
of dials (depending on a model) and a hand crank. However, Thomas Arith-
mometres were technically sound, captured the attention of businesses, and
started office calculator industry, first in Europe and, then in America.
Fig. 1. An early Thomas Arithmometer. Source: http://archive.computerhistory.org.
3

Document Summary

The world of calculators: from o ce equip- ment to pocket gadgets. Informal and unedited notes, not for distribution. (c) z. stachniak, 2011. Note: in the case when i was unable to nd the primary source of an image or determine whether or not an image is copyrighted, i have speci ed the source as. I will provide full information about images and/or obtain reproduc- tion rights when such information is available to me. In the 17th, 18th, and the rst half of the 19th century the dominating and prevailing calculating aids were: pen-and-paper methods (algorithms), abacus (in its variety of forms), mathematical tables. The industrial revolution brought new manufacturing methods and with them the ability to produce good quality precision instruments and mechan- ical devices, such as calculators, in large quantities. 19th century, an increasing number of calculators were o ered commercially but their use was not widely spread.