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Article Comment[edit]

Moved this comment from the article:

We need information on history of calculators, early mechanical calculators, etc...

Please make comments about articles on the talk pages. :^) —Frecklefoot 19:08, 7 Oct 2003 (UTC)

This article is supposed to be about electronic calculators. There is another article for mechanical calculators, where earlier history should go. Gah4 (talk) 18:59, 8 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Graphing calculator[edit]

Graphing calculator has been a re-direct to calculator for nearly a year. Can we start a discussion about whether graphing calculators are ready yet to have their own article?? 17:15, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Go to Graphing calculator. Find yourself at Calculator. Click on the redirected from link. Edit that page, taking out the #REDIRECT line. Add long, informative article .. Wizzy 11:42, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I suppose it could, but what, more specifically, should be included that isn't here? Should (this is a real question) there also be articles for scientific and business calculators? Is it just the visual aid of graphing calculators that is interesting, or something else? Gah4 (talk) 01:04, 26 August 2016 (UTC)[reply]

OK, to make this more interesting, as I understand it the SAT requires test takers to have a graphing calculator. Presumably some could survive with a non-graphing calculator, but rules are rules. The oldest on the list, last I looked, is the HP28C, which is a graphing calculator from about 1989. It does seem, then, that the graphing feature is more fundamental than I might have thought. Gah4 (talk) 22:38, 8 January 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Just wondering, any more thoughts on this? Either way is fine to me, but it does seem that newer calculators have enough more features to have a new article. For one, traditional calculators evaluate operations as the go along, where the usual graphing calculator allows one to enter the whole expression before evaluating it. That is mostly because memory is cheap now, and processors faster. It would also be interesting to mention the symbolic arithmetic that some models now have. (Actually, that goes back to the HP28C, but it caught on slow with others.) Gah4 (talk) 02:20, 10 January 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I just added a link from Business calculator to Mortgage calculator. An article on scientific calculator, which now usually means graphing calculator, would still be interesting. Gah4 (talk) 02:35, 10 January 2018 (UTC)[reply]


The article doesn't mention that TI submitted a patent for the handheld calculator in 1967, which they (as well as the Wikipedia article on TI) define as "inventing the handheld calculator". However it seems that the patent application didn't stop other companies from introducing handheld calculators. It seems that the handheld calculator introduced by Canon in 1970 was in partnership with TI. Someday someone who knows the correct story on this stuff should probably add a note about this. Ken6en 11:30, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Information added MaltaGC 21:25, 15 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
One more tidbit ... TI released the four function Datamath (around $40) at the same time the SR-50 was released. I have both of these calculators ... do you want photos? I remember the price of the SR-50 to be $150, although that may have been a discounted price for TI employees. I don't remember hearing about the SR-10 ... which puzzles me as I worked at TI from 1972-1974. eisenbeis, 8 Dec 07. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Eisenbeis (talkcontribs) 14:16, 8 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Just read an article where the db800 by Digitron was described as the first European pocket calculator. Should it be mentioned in the History section? --Killing time, till it retaliates. (talk) 18:04, 19 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Human Calculators[edit]

This article neglects to mention what people used for calculators before mechanical calculators. I know very little about this area, but it seems as if someone who did could add a section after abacus to talk about using human labour to produce calculations.

Especially of interest may be firing solutions in WWI/WWII-era submarine (I believe the person in charge of that was called a calculator, IANANO), and the scores of women that signed up to become calculators for the war effort.

Unfortunately, I know very little about this. Not even enough to make a heading with a stub. --Eienmaru 13:23, 13 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]

At some point, the (usually) women were called computers (before the electrical or electromechanical devices), and used, usually, mechanical calculators in their work.[1] I suppose earlier, they would have used pencil and paper. Gah4 (talk) 19:58, 6 April 2019 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Holt, Nathalia. Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. Back Bay Books. ISBN 978-0316338905.

How calculators work[edit]

This article should include how calculators actually work. I haven't been able to find out how they do anywhere on the internet. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 20:06, 1 October 2005

You're probably right; we should include a rough guide as to how calculators do their stuff. IMO this can easily be explained in a concise step-by-step text linking calc functionality to the relevant detailed articles on WKP about computers, since calcs is nothing more than specialized digital computers. That is; if you know the fundamentals of computers, you actually know calcs as well. --Wernher 13:09, 3 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]
I agree, there should be information about how the calculator chips and circuitry work and stuff. Could someone look into it? There's no information elsewhere.-someone else —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:13, 4 January 2007 (UTC).[reply]
That is outside the scope of the article in my opinion, especially since different calculators will calculate different ways. One way might be using an interpreter to convert an arithmetic expression into postfix notation (Reverse_Polish_notation) and then evaluating the expression using an algorithm. If you ever learn how to create a calculator by programming you could get a decent grasp of the different ways to do this, but as I said, it seems beyond the scope of the article. 20:40, 13 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]
While some calculators might be built around computers, the first calculators certainly were not: they were built using simple boolean logic, without any programmability. Notinasnaid 21:28, 6 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

How does a modern calculator actually work?[edit]

I strongly suggest we add a "How (pocket) calculators work" to the article. I found an interesting explanation here: http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-03/984867136.Cs.r.html Basically, it suggests that calculators convert operations (at least addition) into binary notation, do the calculation then convert it back to base 10. But what about trigonometric functions and square roots? How does a calculator know the answer there? It's clear logic gates are involved, but it would be interesting to see an explanation that makes sense. Would anyone know how to explain this in the article? I might if I find some more background info, but if someone understands it already then that might save time. Brisvegas 12:47, 1 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I have included a basic explanation of the internal working, and as for the details, someone can expand. Also http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/other-gadgets/calculator.htm is useful.Yottamaster (talk) 13:28, 21 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Computers normally do arithmetic in pure binary. (Fixed or floating point.) It is usual, since just before the time of the integrated circuit based electronic calculator, up though the more recent one that I know about, for calculators to use BCD. That is, they store decimal digits as four bit binary numbers, and add, subtract, multiply, and divide those. While a computer might do much arithmetic before needing to display the result, calculators normally display intermediate results. It is easier and faster to do all the calculation in BCD than to convert to/from pure binary at each step. It is easy (in logic) and fast enough, to do a BCD digit serial processor along with some shift registers. It would be nice to show this in more detail. Gah4 (talk) 20:58, 23 August 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Why isn't this article titled electronic calculator?[edit]

This article is only about electronic calculators. It is not about all calculators. Why does it have the wrong title? Jojalozzo 02:11, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The content got split in January, making a new article in mechanical calculators. But nobody has moved this one. The redirect electronic calculator appears to be protected, so you'd need to do a move request. See WP:RM. Dicklyon (talk) 03:47, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Requested move I

Requested move I[edit]

CalculatorElectronic calculator — Calculator page has been split into mechanical calculator and electronic calculator but the Electronic calculator (redirect) is protected. Calculator should become a disambiguation page with links to the two halves of the split. I can do all the moves etc if someone would unprotect Electronic calculator. Jojalozzo 12:19, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Support – whether electronic calculator is the primary topic or not is irrelevant. If it is, it should redirect to "electronic calculator", and if it's not it should be a disambig. Either way, since mechanical calculators were taken out of what was previously a larger-scope article, the title "electronic calculator" does a much better job of saying what this article is about. Dicklyon (talk) 17:04, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support- if we're going to have "mechanical calculator" split off, then this article should be called "electronic calculator". --Wtshymanski (talk) 17:56, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support - Wikipedia policy requires the title to match the contents. This article is not about calculators. It is only about electronic ones. Jojalozzo 18:23, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    I can live with Dicklyon's proposal. Jojalozzo 04:02, 4 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support We have clear justification for topics of calculator, mechanical calculator and electronic calculator. As it stands, this is closer to the electronic calculator than the others. A rename seems appropriate, with a temporary redirect from calculator to electronic calculator until an appropriate overall historical article (and not just a disambig) is created. Andy Dingley (talk) 21:59, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    Note that this is not what is being proposed. However, I don't think it's really debatable that the common name for electronic calculators is "calculator", is it? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 17:15, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose per Powers's comments (above and below). "Calculator" is clearly the common name and primary topic. If you're not sure, just do a google search for calculator or ask anyone you know what they think you're referring to when you use the word calculator. In this day and age, electronic is obviously implied. Jenks24 (talk) 22:04, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose - Seems like the obvious primary topic; I don't think that has been disputed. "whether electronic calculator is the primary topic or not is irrelevant"—It's relevant to our guidelines. The place to change those is not here. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 17:15, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    Hmm - Dicklyon, I see what you mean here now; pardon. The proposal here is to create a disambiguation page at Calculator. But even the redirect is problematic, because people call electronic calculators "calculator"; it's the common name. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 18:32, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Another way The common usage of the word 'calculator' is undoubtedly to denote an electronic calculator, and it's what most people would type into the search box to find an article, but the requirement for precison suggests that the article should be called 'electronic calculator'. So 'calculator' shoud be a redirect to 'electronic calculator', with a hatnote there to redirect the rare reader who wants to know about other types of calculator. Colonies Chris (talk) 17:33, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    That's what we mean when we say support; read mine. Dicklyon (talk) 17:52, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    The request at the top of this section says 'Calculator should become a disambiguation page with links to the two halves of the split'. I'm not supporting that. Are you? I'm saying 'calculator' should be a redirect to 'electronic calculator', and the hatnote on 'electronic calculator' should point people to the existing disambig page. Colonies Chris (talk) 17:50, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    Chris; the requirement for precision does not require this. It says: "If the topic of the article is the primary topic (or only topic) for a desired title, then the article can take that title without modification."(wp:PRECISION) I'm ready to change my !vote if someone can explain how this is different than London not needing a ", England" disambiguator to distinguish it from London, Texas. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 19:26, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support as long as redirected. It is clearly misleading not to have "electronic" in the title, given the history of the topic. I'm wondering whether "Electronic" should be added to section title "Calculators versus computers". Probably it should. Tony (talk) 01:42, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • How is it misleading? Is it misleading to not have ", England" in the title of our London article? Powers T 12:45, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support. As we have the article Mechanical calculator, it would seem totally logical that the article about its electronic counterpart should occupy the relevant namespace, rather than squatting at an ambiguous and generic title. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 09:59, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support as per Dicklyon. GFHandel   01:34, 4 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose. Electronic calculators are the WP:PRIMARYTOPIC and simply "calculator" is the WP:COMMONNAME. A hatnote to Mechanical calculator is sufficient. –CWenger (^@) 19:43, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose as 'calculator' is the common name. The majority of the article's sources refer to the item simply as a 'calculator'. Even the source titled The History of the Hand-Held Electronic Calculator chiefly uses just 'calculator'. A hatnote suffices. Arbitrarily0 (talk) 20:51, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Any additional comments:
  • This is crazy. If you go to Wal-Mart and ask "Where are the calculators?", they're going to show you the little push-button electronic doo-dads. "Calculator" is clearly the common name for them, and they are clearly the primary topic for the term. No one calls them "electronic calculators" in everyday speech; only if they (for some strange reason) need to distinguish them from mechanical ones do they even mention that they are electronic. It's just assumed, because no one uses mechanical ones anymore. Our article even specifically calls them "obsolete". There's no way they could possibly compete for primary topic status. Powers T 20:16, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • Look at this Google Shopping search: [1] ... Are any of those things called, specifically, "electronic calculators"? No; it's assumed. Are any of those things not electronic calculators? No; everyone knows "calculator" means an electronic one. Powers T 20:18, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • Not crazy, just matching the title to the content. I am surprised there is disagreement about what a calculator is. Any device that can do calculations is a calculator - vernacular usage does not govern content here. A "Calculator" article should encompass all devices that calculate not just contemporary instances. A "Calculator" article should present an overview that covers history as well as present day. This article is only about electronic calculators and should be titled as such. Jojalozzo 01:57, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • That's not how our naming conventions work. We title articles by what they are most commonly called. Do you really think "electronic calculators" is more common than "calculators" when referring to these products? Powers T 15:32, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        • You're ignoring WP:TITLE's "Precision – titles are expected to use names and terms that are precise, but only as precise as is necessary to identify the topic of the article unambiguously."
  • See WP:RECENTISM, which says "Recentism is writing or editing without a long-term, historical view ... resulting in ... muddling or diffusion of the timeless facets of a subject, previously recognized by Wikipedia consensus." Let's don't do that. When the calculator article was split into mechanical and electronic parts, the titles should have been adjusted to reflect that. The prior concensus was that both are important facets of calculators. Dicklyon (talk) 03:42, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • "Recentism" usually refers to a bias toward events of the last couple of years, not the last couple of decades. Electronic calculators have been around long enough to have become the de facto standard, and there's no reason not to take readers directly to that article when they search for "calculator". Powers T 15:32, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • In this case, "long-term, historical view" applies to recent decades (and centuries) just as well. Dicklyon (talk) 15:36, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • This really isn't the point of wp:RECENTISM. It's designed to avoid fluctuation brought on by increased coverage and interest due to news events or other transient conditions. That is not what is happening here. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 17:19, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • This is exactly what's happening here. See the comments on "going into a Walmart store"; this passing fad of big-box stores selling new-fangled electronical gadgets... where's your "long-term, historical view"? Dicklyon (talk) 17:55, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        • "This is exactly what's happening here." You think the decline of the mechanical calculator is a transient condition? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 18:29, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        • Electronic calculators are "new-fangled"? This is like the mirror-universe version of 'recentism' - 'ancientism', perhaps? Powers T 18:47, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Assuming we redirect Calculator to Electronic calculator, this discussion seems to center around balancing conciseness (and wp:COMMONNAME) against wp:PRECISION. (See WP:NAMINGCRITERIA.) I don't think "calculator" is a term that is going to mislead anyone, people aren't generally going to be surprised to see just electronic calculators described here. WP:PRECISION doesn't take such an absolutist view on things that this kind of heroic effort to avoid the slightest possibility of ambiguity is necessary; it even says: "If the topic of the article is the primary topic (or only topic) for a desired title, then the article can take that title without modification." ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 18:49, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I am not wedded to my original proposal. Having Calculator redirect to Electronic calculator works for me. It blends common expectations and sufficient precision. As you say, few would be surprised to end up at Electronic calculator. If we ever want a Calculator (overview) article we can stick a hat tag for it here or revisit the issue. Jojalozzo 21:01, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
My point was that (vanishingly) few would be surprised to get an article about electronic calculators when they go to an article with the title "Calculator". IOW, the precision concerns are not an issue; it's ok to leave this article where it is. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:08, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The precision is not about who would be astonished. It's about being more precise about what the article content is. Dicklyon (talk) 20:22, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Boston, Massachusetts is more precise about what the article content is, but the article is still at Boston. Powers T 20:46, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes it is, and I don't think anyone would object to that. But Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Article_titles.5BR.5D says "Titles should match the article contents, and should be neither too narrow nor too broad." Here, "Calculator" is too broad; it was a fine title before all the stuff about mechanical calculators got removed; we could bring all that back, or adjust the title to match the split article contents. The broader scope would of course not be analogous to trying to cover in one article the various cities called Boston, just because they share a name. Calculators aren't just things sharing a name; they are a set of things broader than what the current article is about. Dicklyon (talk) 05:54, 4 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Human psychology is more precise about the scope of the article, but the article is still at Psychology. Powers T 17:10, 4 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The reason I support Dicklyon's proposal for a redirect to here from "Calculator" is that it will minimize search time and be unlikely to confuse readers. Someone looking for Mechanical calculator is likely to try Calculator first and with the current title will think they are at the right spot when they land here. If the title is "Electronic calculator" they will immediately know they have the wrong article and can select the Mechanical calculator hat tag. Those looking for electronic calculator will know right away that they are at the right spot so there would be no confusion there. Jojalozzo 21:56, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"The first calculator debuted 67 years ago -- and weighed five tons." -- yet more evidence that "calculator" is the common name for the subject of this article. Powers T 16:34, 5 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

That's a funny example to cite, being mostly an example of how the imprecision we're talking about results in a ridiculous statement: "The first calculator debuted 67 years ago ... a huge upgrade from old mechanical calculators then in use." It's electro-mechanical, and it's not even a calculator in the sense that this article means; probably they meant first "computer", though that's also very imprecise. Dicklyon (talk) 02:16, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
If we are to take this video as evidence for usage, it argues for the Electronic calculator title. The first words out of the narrator's mouth and the first text in that video is "FIRST ELECTRONIC CALCULATOR" (my emphasis). Throughout, it refers to the device as an electronic calculator. Jojalozzo 03:28, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I count 8 in support and 4 opposed, not a consensus. Would it make sense to open this to the wider community? Jojalozzo 21:42, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Sure, can you find a place to announce it to a wider audience? Dicklyon (talk) 21:56, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Several of the opposes were on the basis of WP:PRIMARYTOPIC, which is easy to satisfy by making Calculator a redirect to here; so those can be discounted. The remaining issue is about WP:TITLE's "precision" versus WP:COMMONNAME. If you look in books (in Google book search, for example), you'll find "calculator" used for a huge variety of things, including software apps, books of tables, cardboard analog contrivances, etc. And you'll find "electronic calculator" used in many more books than "mechanical calculator". Taken together, and looking at the contents of this article, and the history of its split from mechanical calculator, these suggest that "electronic calculator" is a good common name for this article's topic, and "calculator" is way too imprecise (even though they do also get called that frequently). Yes? Dicklyon (talk) 21:56, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps I am misreading but it looks to like those opposed mention only primary topic not precision. Only supporters mention precision and those in opposition do not rebut it but reassert primary topic. If the main reason for opposition is primary topic, we have either unacknowledged consensus or undisclosed unclear reasons for opposition. Jojalozzo 23:08, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I at least have attempted to rebut the precision argument. "Primary topic" is a reason to oppose "Calculator should become a disambiguation page"; I don't know what you are saying about "undisclosed reasons"? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 23:36, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The updated proposal is to have Calculator be a redirect to Electronic calculator. Can you support that? Should we start over to clear up that confusion? Jojalozzo 01:24, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Requested move II[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. Having said that, there does appear to be some support for an article about calculators in general. If and when that exists as a significant article, it might be time to revisit this to address the ambiguous nature of the name. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:07, 18 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

CalculatorElectronic calculator — I apologize for starting over but we want to be clear about the proposal:

Rename this article Electronic calculator and have Calculator redirect to it. Jojalozzo 21:21, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Support - This proposal addresses concerns about WP:PRIMARYTOPIC since the redirect from Calculator will immediately serve readers who search for that term and it addresses concerns about WP:PRECISION since the title will accurately describe the topic. Jojalozzo 21:32, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    PRECISION isn't too much of an issue unless PRIMARYTOPIC is in question, and I don't think it is. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 22:09, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    PRIMARYTOPIC is definitely in question. I think that's why we have this proposal and why most respondents supported it the first time around. Jojalozzo 22:19, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    Then the other move request should be re-opened. This request does nothing to satisfy any PRIMARYTOPIC concerns. If electronic calculators are not the PRIMARYTOPIC for "calculator" then this proposal here should not be implemented. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 23:10, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    This is true. If there is no primary topic (which I strongly dispute), then Calculator should be a disambiguation page. Either way this move request should fail. –CWenger (^@) 23:55, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    Sorry, I revise my too-hasty response. PRIMARYTOPIC is not an issue (the redirect satisfies PRIMARYTOPIC) but PRECISION is an issue because "calculator" is a generic term used to denote any calculator whatever type it is. It is the common name of a class of devices of which the electronic version is only one example. "Calculator: calculator or calculating machine, device for performing numerical computations; it may be mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic." (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2008) Jojalozzo 03:58, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose - I think the common name for this subject is just "calculator". ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 22:09, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support – the current name is too imprecise, since the mechanical part was split out to Mechanical calculator. Titles should be precise enough to reasonably define the topic. WP:PRIMARYTOPIC says "If a primary topic exists, the ambiguous term should be the title of, or redirect to, the article on that topic", so that's easily satisfied if this article is the primary topic for the ambiguous term Calculator, as we seem to agree. Dicklyon (talk) 23:21, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    But it also says that if there's a primary topic for, in this case, "calculator", then there is no need to disambiguate further if "calculator" is also the commonname. This debate, I think, is just about whether "calculator" is the common name for the subject. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 23:37, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose: It's just common sense, people mean electronic calculator when they say "calculator". A hatnote to mechanical calculator is sufficient. Like ErikHaugan said, PRECISION isn't an issue unless PRIMARYTOPIC is in question—iPhone meant something else before 2007 but we don't redirect to Apple iPhone. –CWenger (^@) 23:49, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose. The proposer has not explained why either WP:PRIMARYTOPIC or WP:PRECISION are relevant. This is the primary topic for calculator, so there's no need to change it (and if Calculator becomes a redirect to Electronic calculator it is still the primary topic). As for precision that is only needed if the title is ambiguous, so readers have trouble finding the article; and again if Calculator is a redirect to Electronic calculator it's just as precise or imprecise as before. The only policy I can see that applies is WP:COMMONNAME and the common name is "calculator": that is just the word people use today to refer to handheld (or sometimes desktop) electronic calculating machines.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 00:12, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose as 'calculator' is the common name. The majority of the article's sources refer to the item simply as a 'calculator'. Even the source titled The History of the Hand-Held Electronic Calculator chiefly uses just 'calculator'. A hatnote suffices. Arbitrarily0 (talk) 01:11, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    That what I would do here, too: narrow the scope in the title, so you can usually just say "calculator". Dicklyon (talk) 01:38, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support I find the CN/PT arguments unconvincing: by that logic we should move personal computer or even desktop computer to computer. The additional precision of this title would be very helpful to the reader: I personally would expect an article titled "calculator" to cover at least mechanical calculators. I'm not even sure if Calculator should be a redirect here, an overview article or disambiguation page might seem more appropriate. —Ruud 09:05, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Still oppose, no matter how many times you restart the discussion. Simply "calculator" is the common name for electronic calculators, and what readers will expect to see as the title. Powers T 13:16, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • This sounds like backwards reasoning to me. Yes, I might might not be surprised if an article about electronic calculators would be titled "Calculator", but given an article titled "Calculator", I would expect it to cover mechanical calculator as well, which isn't the case here. —Ruud 14:27, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • I think you may be in the minority there. Certainly the average person would be caught off guard if they went into a store, asked to see the calculators, and was asked "what do you mean, African or European electronic or mechanical?" Powers T 15:18, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        • You can't fight here...this is the War Room! This is an encyclopedia, not the Staples catalog. We should cover the whole topic - a couple of paragraphs at least to cover the epic brawling saga of mechanical calculators ( the men who built them...the women who loved them...) before a pointer at Calculator (mechanical), then we can spend the rest of the article on the usual flabby Wikipedia minutia catalog of boring things found in a Staples catalog.--Wtshymanski (talk) 15:26, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
          • That's a question of scope, not of article title. If you want to change the scope of the article, a requested move is not the way to do it. Powers T 21:41, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        • But a store isn't a encyclopedia. If I went to a store and asked for a television, I'd expect to be shown some flat-screen TVs. If I decided to lookup the "Televion set", I'd expect it to cover CRTs. —Ruud 09:01, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
            • Exactly. An article called "Calculator" should describe everything that anyone has called "Calculator", even if only a couple of lines with a see-also reference to a more detailed article. --Wtshymanski (talk) 15:27, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
              • An article called "London" should describe every city that anyone has called "London". Powers T 12:59, 14 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • No. Do I have to explain the difference? --Wtshymanski (talk) 14:32, 14 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose. As this is simply a common name discussion, it really comes down to the question: what do the majority of people call these devices, calculators or electronic calculators? One does not need to be a rocket surgeon to know that the most common name is simply "calculator". Jenks24 (talk) 16:08, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • You know, just the blink of an eye ago, when I started working, the fellow round the corner from my office was still using an enormous Olivetti mechanical calculator with rows and rows of buttons on it. Am I that old? --Wtshymanski (talk) 16:19, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • Yes, you are; face it; me, too. But it's still "recentism" to ignore that. And this move to turn everything over to WP:COMMONNAME as if it were the only criterion in WP:AT is what mainly bugs me here. Dicklyon (talk) 16:46, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        • And just the other day I was using a slide rule to calculate the answer to my wife's question as to how much it would cost to re-pave the driveway. The article should talk about all calculators, not just the $2.99 bin at Staples. --Wtshymanski (talk) 20:01, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose per ErikHaugen in the previous move discussion. Electronic calculators are clearly the primary topic of "calculator" a hat on the page would be sufficient. Cliff (talk) 20:15, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    Well, this move request would result in calculator redirecting to electronic calculator, so this concern will be addressed if it succeeds, I think. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:17, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Any additional comments:

On such an important topic, and in which so many are so interested, shouldn't we have an overview article at calculator rather than a redirect? This would then remove the need to have material on the abacus at mechanical calculator, for example. The current division of material between the two articles is artificial and dare I say unencyclopedic; An abacus is not a mechanical calculator as normally understood, but it is a calculator. Andrewa (talk) 21:28, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I agree about abacus and mechanical calulator. The Abacus article is sufficient in itself and a hat note at Mechanical calculator should suffice. If there is a need for an overview of calculators, I think Calculator (overview) would be a better title choice since most readers entering the term "calculator" will be looking for an article about electronic calculators, not an overview of all kinds of calculators. Jojalozzo 21:46, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Hmmm... Calculator (overview) is an interesting suggestion. I think it would be a new idea; Camera for example describes all sorts of cameras, and the modern digital camera is a more detailed article. There's no camera (overview) article. Is there a better parallel, I wonder? Andrewa (talk) 04:07, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Good point. Good parallel. Jojalozzo 04:23, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

My understanding of our naming guidelines is that this question here boils down to wp:COMMONNAME, and has little to do with PRIMARYTOPIC or PRECISION. Those other issues were relevant to the abandoned move request, but not really to this one. In other words, what do English language reliable sources most frequently refer to this subject as? That is the issue. Does that sound right? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 22:12, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"Calculator" is an ambiguous term. That is why WP:PRIMARYTOPIC and WP:PRECISION are important concerns. Jojalozzo 00:05, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
What is the difference between this request and somebody suggesting we move computer to electronic computer because of its ambiguity with human computer? I think we just need to use common sense here. –CWenger (^@) 00:12, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
There's a huge difference; computer is now universally understood to mean the machine, not the human, whereas many people still have, know of, collect, or even use calculators that are not electronic. Dicklyon (talk) 00:39, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Then again, Joja, you should re-open the other request. If there's no PT, then this move is no good. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 04:51, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
In the language of PRIMARYTOPIC, "Calculator" is the "ambiguous term"; we satisfy PT by making it a redirect; read it; that's why he closed the other one, that said to make it a disambig, so we could all agree that this article is the primary topic for calculator and get on with the question of what it would best be titled. That's where precision comes in. The title guidelines used to say that when you change the scope of an article by a merge or split you should consider retitling it to fit; but I think that went away at some point, even though it makes perfect sense and ought to be done here. Dicklyon (talk) 06:40, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think we're saying the same thing? If we're agreed that the electronic ones are the primary topic then we're just debating here about what to name the article itself. I'm confused because Joja keeps bringing up PRIMARYTOPIC in this discussion. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 16:40, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I apologize for the confusion. The core of my position is that "calculator" is CN for all types of calculators, certainly for mechanical and electronic ones. PRECISION suggests we distinguish the types of calculators by their article titles, Mechanical calculator and Electronic calculator. PT suggests we use CN as a redirect to Electronic calculator. Jojalozzo 03:23, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
As for it just coming down to WP:COMMONNAME, that's a nastiness that was inflicted on us by Born2cycle. See WT:AT#Whence COMMONNAME?. I don't buy it; Precision still matters. Dicklyon (talk) 06:43, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I feel like a broken record, but WP:PRECISION says "If the topic of the article is the primary topic (or only topic) for a desired title, then the article can take that title without modification." So, per COMMONNAME: London, Psychology, etc. Why does precision matter so much more in this case than it does in all those other cases? Nobody is going to be confused, wondering where's the section about Babbage here on calculator? If you want to demote commonname, then, fine, I just like calculator more. When I think of electronic calculators I think "calculator" and having the article titled "electronic calculator" feels stuffy. It makes me wonder if there is some regionalism in play (eg soda vs. pop vs. "cold coke"), like maybe only people near where I live call them calculators but people on the east coast or in some other english speaking country always call them "electronic calculators". "Students, please put your electronic calculators away for the test now." ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 16:40, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Sure, I agree you sound like a broken record. Just because we "can" take the ambiguous term as the title doesn't mean that it's best; yes the electronic calculator can be taken as the "primary topic" for calculator, but it's far from the only topic, and greater precision here just makes a lot more sense. The situation for "London, Psychology, etc" is quite different. Nobody is arguing that people don't call them "calculators", just that given the adjusted scope of the article, that's not a very good title. If that's the title, then probably we should do a merge from mechanical calculator to restore the expected connection between title and contents. Dicklyon (talk) 21:58, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
No, the split was a good idea. I really think you're overestimating the number of people who will be confused by not finding mechanical calculators at this title. Powers T 23:19, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Since my remarks weren't based on an estimated number, that seems unlikely. Dicklyon (talk) 00:37, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Mechanical calculators also are commonly called "calculators". The name for mechanical calculator is equally "stuffy" but it is necessary for precision. This is an encyclopedia where accuracy is primary, not marketing literature aimed at reader buy-in. Jojalozzo 17:47, 15 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Please maintain optimum article length[edit]

I think there should be a separate page for the history of pocket calculators.Yottamaster (talk) 14:01, 21 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Internal Working[edit]

The section "Internal working" seems out of date, and is referenced to a 30 year old publication by Usborne, which I recall is a publisher of children's books. I am inclined to delete the whole section, but will hang fire for a couple of days to see if there are any objections, particularly as it has been recently edited. WhaleyTim (talk) 12:25, 26 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Could we leave it in? We're surrounded by so many magical artificats, it would be nice to explain to people just how the little bird inside the box pecks out the answers to our mathematical inquiries. The section needs expansion - the HP Journal used to spend whole issues on the internals of calculators, back before they became fixated on producing doomeed iPad competitors. --Wtshymanski (talk) 14:26, 26 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The problem I have is that it describes a technology that is not current. X and Y registers and segmented displays? We are not in the 1980's. The bird has grown bigger wings. I agree that expansion by someone who knows the subject and can provide good references is required, but, as it stands I am not convinced that it is a useful explaination of how a modern calculator worksWhaleyTim (talk) 00:19, 27 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
More recentism problems? I bet the cheapest calculators still work about the same way. Dicklyon (talk) 00:23, 27 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Fair point, but you would need to back it up with some evidence that the Christmas Cracker calculators use the same processor architecture as say a 1980 TI 4 function calculator. WhaleyTim (talk) 00:33, 27 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Fine,but can anyone read the Chinese literature? --Wtshymanski (talk) 15:42, 27 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You don't need to back it up if you don't claim it. Just report what we find sources on; and report their dates. Dicklyon (talk) 20:01, 27 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah - fair enough - I was in a bit of a grump when posting that last comment. Still not happy with the section as I do not think it really contributes much, but am not hugely motivated to improve it WhaleyTim (talk) 21:21, 27 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It gives a very basic understanding about the operation of a simple calculator. Just like they teach you about the 8085 microprocessor, before you learn other mp's or mc's.Maybe the heading of the section can be changed. Yottamaster (talk) 15:57, 7 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It could be better, but doesn't seem so far off, for the simplest calculators. Registers are commonly called X and Y in the internal design, though you don't see that in the user documentation. More complicated calculators have more registers, but the basic ideas are still there. Gah4 (talk) 07:27, 5 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I have to ask[edit]

Is there any discussion about the mystifyingly named "C" and "CE" keys on most English language labeled calcs? (talk) 17:38, 4 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Clear and Clear Entry? How is this mystifying? Or is it just not explained in modern calculator manuals any more? --Wtshymanski (talk) 18:16, 4 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Manuals!? Who do you know that reads manuals? Cliff (talk) 21:30, 4 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Very minor edits[edit]

fixed some spelling and links in the history section. This is my first time editing. So please don't get all this is my house crazy on me. I have heard a lot about you editors. So please go easy. Thank you very much for your time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by BrandonNajera (talkcontribs) 20:07, 2 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

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Line in education section is poorly written.[edit]

"Exams are generally not allowed to use calculators including other computable devices. However, some of which may be too difficult to do in mind so such exams may clearly specify that calculators can be used."

That could do with being rewritten, or even deleted as it appears to be only anecdotal information. (talk) 11:07, 13 December 2012 (UTC)14/12/12[reply]

I took it out; it was unparseable and appeared to (be trying to) say "Some do and some don't", which really isn't an encyclopediac observation. And even Barbie knows that "Math is Hard". --Wtshymanski (talk) 15:24, 13 December 2012 (UTC)[reply]
"Math class is tough!". Powers T 16:20, 13 December 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Note that the SAT now requires a graphing calculator. It looks like they won't even let you use a non-graphing, new or old, model. They specifically exclude models with an alphanumeric keypad, as that does make it easier to cheat. [1] The ACT is more restrictive, but still allows the more common calculators. Gah4 (talk) 00:57, 26 August 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Oh, the SAT specifically excludes anything that isn't a calculator, such as laptop, or smart phone. They try to keep people from sneaking questions out, so restrict anything that could make that easier. Gah4 (talk) 00:58, 26 August 2016 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ "Calculator Policy". collegereadiness.collegeboard.org. College Board. Retrieved 26 August 2016.

Early designs for electronic calculators[edit]

I worked on electronic calculators during the mid to late 1970's. This article, like most articles on electronic calculators I have seen leaves out a whole segment of calculator designs. The very early electronic calculator designs used 'counting tubes' and later counting circuits that mimicked the mechanical veeder root designs that had a series of counting wheels that went round and round generating a carry to the next wheel when the ten count was reached. The next most mentioned design was the application specific chip sets that immediately preceeded the actual microprocessor designs (the 4004 and 4040 intel chips and the PPS4 and PPS8 rockwell chipsets). However in between the counting tube and counting circuit designs and the first application specific chipsets there were quite a few machines that used many discreet i.c.'s that implemented a serial calculator design. The Frieden 130 and the Victor 500 series (that used crt displays) were actually of this type. The memory element was either a magnostrictive delay line of a shift register (either dynamic or static). The calculation circuits were actually single bit arraignments. Numbers were coded into a parallel to serial shift register (keyboard input) and then dumped into the serial memory. As the bits came out of the serial memory they went into another register just prior to going into the adder/subtracter. the data stream then went into one of three or four display registers (to be sent to the 'stroke generator' that drove the crt display). One of these registers (one could call it the 'accumulator) would be sent back to the serial memory. Most of my experiance was with the Victor line of calculators, but I also worked on Sharp, Casion, and a host of other serial based machines. There was usually a binary counter and decoder to develope timing signals to get the data into and out of the serial memory in a timely fashion (this was usually reffered to as a 'stste machine'). I have some info on the discreet chios that were used in these early designs and would love to collaborate with someone on expounding on this design. Technogeezer (talk) 02:24, 2 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Please, by all means add in a section for these. I can help you structure it if you need help.
Technogeezer, please start this section. I can help too, as I am highly interested. Please write at least four lines. Then we can extend. I do not know much about calculator design in depth, but many things about digital electronic fundamentals. -Polytope4d (talk) 17:22, 30 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Online calculator redirect[edit]

There is a redirect from Online calculator to this article but this article doesn't address the subject of online calculators. Either Online calculator needs its own article or else there needs to be a section on the subject here. Pleasantville (talk) 13:51, 5 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

RPN calculators[edit]

Are there any current basic desktop calculators using RPN? If not, is it possible to obtain an HP25 calculator? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:47, 18 December 2015 (UTC)[reply]

HP25 are available on eBay, but a little expensive. They are usually considered pocket calculators, but when I bought my HP25C for college, my dad suggested I buy the security cradle for it. That keeps it on the desk. Of the available older HP calculators, the 28C and 28S are often reasonably priced, and fun to use. Gah4 (talk) 00:48, 26 August 2016 (UTC)[reply]


The article mentions the: "Cal-Tech" project, and has references that don't seem to reference the name. Is there anything that shows that name? I do remember some calculator chips, such as the CT5001, that were named Cal-Tex which I always thought was a combination of California and Texas, but might have been something else. More specifically, I am wondering if the name is at all related to Caltech. Gah4 (talk) 20:45, 23 August 2016 (UTC)[reply]

The CT7001[1] is a clock chip from Cal-Tex, the same company that made the CT5001 and CT5005 calculator chips. Note that it is Cal-Tex, and not Cal-Tech. This may or may not be related to the Jack Kilby project. Gah4 (talk) 21:27, 29 March 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I asked Carver Mead, who literally wrote the book on VLSI design, has been working at Caltech since about 1970, and he knows of no calculator called Cal-Tech. He goes pretty far back in the development of integrated circuits, including being credited for naming Moore's law. Gah4 (talk) 22:40, 15 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
The CT7001 series digital clock chips were manufactured by a company called Cal-Tex just as the linked spec sheet states. As stated they also made the CT5001 series calculator chips. One seems to be on sale on e-bay here. Or see here for front page of catalogue. (talk) 17:46, 4 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ "CT7001" (PDF). www.waynekirkwood.com. Cal-Tex. Retrieved 29 March 2017.

Current Knowledge of Calculators[edit]

I just tried to improve the article by adding the mention that there are calculators performing exactly the same functions as all the now historical electronic calculators and those comments were removed. It is relevant to an article titled "Calculator" that the same technology once available only on a hand-held device is now available on the web and on mobile devices and now a whole calculator can be built in minutes that uses any conceivable equation on a calculator button. This is very relevant to the evolution of the calculator and I'm not understanding why this was removed? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Michael Bartmess (talkcontribs) 20:32, 18 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Which section was it in? I can think of arguments either way, depending a little one which section. It could go along with historical discussion, on some of the older models. I believe that there are some that internally execute the same microcode that old models used, but others just emulate the external appearance. How about an article on calculator history? Gah4 (talk) 01:08, 26 August 2016 (UTC)[reply]

digit serial[edit]

Bit serial logic designs are more common in calculators whereas bit parallel designs dominate general-purpose computers, because a bit serial design minimizes chip complexity, but takes many more clock cycles. As far as I know, it is usual, from pretty much the beginning of electronic hand calculators through today, to do BCD digit serial arithmetic. Even more, the wikilink links to serial communication, and not bit serial ALU discussion. The logic for a BCD digit serial add/subtract is fairly simple, and it is fed by, and feeds into, shift registers. The shift registers then recirculate in time with the display multiplexer to keep the display going. This also led to the Intel 4004 as a four bit processor, convenient for doing BCD arithmetic. Gah4 (talk) 19:13, 8 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]

One of the earliest electronic calculators, the Friden 130, used a particular bit-serial logic, not a BCD-serial arithmetic design. See: Fiden 130 BBCLCD (talk) 21:30, 10 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Interesting machine. It uses decimal (0 to 9 pulses per digit) stored in a delay line, instead of BCD, and counters instead of adders. Gah4 (talk) 04:50, 11 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]

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There is Disagreement over the use of calculators in school? A certain 8th grade student studying in Europe cannot do 25+10, in his head, but depends on his calculator to do it. Why is there disagreement? Calculators certainly suppress arithmetic skills in young students. Soon we shall see arithmetic blockheads around the world. And calculators are getting more smarter, but students are getting dumber. Today's students cannot use a 1 line scientific calculator from the 1990s. Polytope4D (talk) 01:48, 14 January 2019 (UTC)[reply]

I don't know about 8th grade, but many high school classes now require calculators, with the TI-83 being a popular choice. More specifically, a graphing calculator. That allows for visual (graphic) learning for algebra through calculus. As I noted above, for some years now the SAT[1] requires a graphing calculator for test takers. (No non-graphing calculators are on the list.) Yes students should learn basic arithmetic without calculators. Gah4 (talk) 08:00, 1 March 2019 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ "Calculator Policy". collegereadiness.collegeboard.org. College Board. Retrieved 26 August 2016.

BCD rather than a floating-point representation[edit]

The article says BCD rather than a floating-point representation which doesn't make sense. Floating point or fixed point can be decimal, binary, or any other base.Gah4 (talk) 04:13, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]


The article says: Pocket-sized devices became available in the 1970s, especially after the Intel 4004, the first microprocessor, was developed by Intel.... Is this meant to suggest that the availability of the 4004 led to more pocket-sized devices? (As far as I remember, Busicom build desk calculators.) Gah4 (talk) 19:57, 12 August 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Semi-protected edit request on 12 October 2023[edit]

Please reduce wordiness by changing

This technology was to provide a stepping stone to the development of electronic calculators.


This technology presaged the development of electronic calculators.

Thank you. (talk) 02:27, 12 October 2023 (UTC)[reply]

 Not done:"Presaged" usually has a negative connotation. Meters (talk) 06:11, 12 October 2023 (UTC)[reply]