Home > Mathematician of the Week Archive Detail

<< Prev 3/28/2010 Next >>

First Hand-Held Electronic Calculator?

The following statements pertain to the invention of the first hand-held electronic calculator. Which statements are TRUE and which are FALSE?

TRUE or FALSE: In 1965, electronic calculators were the size of typewriters, had to be plugged in during use, and cost as much as an automobile.

TRUE or FALSE: Pat Haggerty, inventor of the transistor radio, was the principle proponent of the first hand-held electronuic calculator.

TRUE or FALSE: Texas Instruments asked its engineers to invent something...anything that would increase the market for its integrated circuit micochips...with the two suggested options being either a calculator that would fit into a shirt pocket or a lipstick-size dictaphone machine.

TRUE or FALSE: Led by Jack Kilby, the TI team started with the concept of inventing a "slide rule computer," which was the size of a book, had some buttons, some neon lights, and batteries for power.

TRUE or FALSE: The original name of the first hand-held electronic calculator was CAL-TECH.

TRUE or FALSE: Because the proposed neon light tubes drained the batteries in minutes, the first output device was a thermal paper tape printer.

TRUE or FALSE: The eventual prototype was a hollowed-out chunk of aluminum (4" x 6" x 1.5") and was registered under Patent No. 3,819,921...still included on many of today's TI-calculators.

TRUE or FALSE: The protype claimed it could do all four basic operations, but in reality did multiplication by repeated-addition and division by repeated-subtraction.

TRUE or FALSE: When produced commercially, the protype was sold as the Pocketronic by Canon...and released April 14, 1970.

TRUE or FALSE: The first commercial version weighed about 2 pounds, was 8" x 4" x 1.5" in size (big shirt pocket!), and cost $400.



Answer: All of the above are true!

Source: K. Hamrick's "The History of the Hand-Held Electronic Calculator," Math. Mag., Oct. 1996