The evolution of the calculator

From 3000 B.C. all the way up to a calculator designed specifically for SA students.

Human beings have been working with devices to assist them with calculations since 3000 B.C., when Babylonians invented the abacus. In the years that followed, calculation devices became progressively more sophisticated and more mechanised, such as the slide rule, hand-cranked adding machines and the push-button “Comptometer”, but it was only in the 1960s that electronic calculators, precursors of the calculators used today, were introduced. Continuously striving to be a world leader and creator of progressive technology, Sharp was a pioneer and innovator in the creation of these convenient tools. In the period between 1964 and 1966 Sharp created a breakthrough product in the form of the world’s first all-transistor-diode electronic calculator, then improved on it by creating a smaller version – the world’s first electronic calculator to use integrated circuits.

sharp calculatorThroughout the 60s and 70s Sharp was instrumental in leading the electronics industry as calculators became faster and able to process more information. They also became smaller, eventually becoming hand-held and then pocket sized. The Sharp EL-805, introduced in 1973, was the first pocket-sized LCD calculator. The metal-oxide semiconductor and LCD technology that this calculator employed, were the starting points for the mobile devices and personal computers used today. Now, in 2015, calculators are able to perform incredibly complex calculations and are invaluable for helping students to learn and practice mathematical skills, something which has been shown to assist with general school performance by enhancing problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills.

South Africa’s education system has been revised and the National Curriculum Statement has been revised according to CAPS, the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements. There is increased emphasis being placed on mathematics, particularly building and reinforcing a solid conceptual framework that can be expanded on as students move through the grades. Recognising the need for tools that support this mindset, Sharp developed a scientific calculator that was designed with the CAPS curriculum in mind, as well for simple, intuitive use. The EL-W535HT performs functions aligned with CAPS and can be used from Grade 6 level all the way to Grade 12. It can be used for 40 scientific and statistical functions, including graphing and mode, and has a drill mode that allows students to practice their sums by giving them mental maths calculations to do, reiterating these basic concepts. Seartec, proud distributor of Sharp, created a resource website which gives teachers additional worksheets aligned to the CAPS curriculum, as well as study guides designed for learners.

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