Personal Finance

The fascinating history of the modern calculator | Personal Finance

Though we may not think about it, math and calculations permeate our everyday lives. We calculate tips at restaurants, determine how much money a grocery store coupon will save us, and compute how much our online purchases will cost including tax and shipping. Some do these calculations in their head or by hand, but many of us have the instinct to reach for a calculator, whether it’s online or on our phone.

Long before people were walking around with supercomputers in their pockets, humans were running into the problem of calculating values quickly and accurately. Prior to all the devices developed for this purpose, people would use their fingers and toes to count. When that wasn’t enough, they began counting with small objects like shells, seeds, or pebbles. Eventually, those methods also became too tedious or unsustainable, particularly for conducting trade, so inventors and mathematicians began developing new ways to count and calculate.

To explore the storied development of counting devices, Gigacalculator compiled a list of important events throughout the history of the modern calculator using historical and news sources. Read on to see how many of these scientific and mathematical breakthroughs you recognise.


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