# Evolution of the graphing calculator

Anyone who has taken courses in geometry, algebra, trigonometry, or other advanced mathematical forms has certainly come across the graphing calculator. These multi-functional devices make the incredibly complicated math a little less complicated.

As such, it’s hard to imagine a time before graphing calculators. It is a fairly recent invention, the first having entered the market in 1985; since then the graphing calculator has come a long way.

## What is a graphing calculator?

Like a Tablet or one smartphone, a graphing calculator is a type of handheld computer. In this sense, a computer refers to a device that performs sequences of logical functions. Since graphing calculators are used to perform more complex mathematical functions, many students only encounter them around high school. Graphing calculators are useful for algebraic equations (such as quadratic equations or creating matrices), for plotting geometric angles or polynomials.

### How graphing calculators differ from scientific calculators

Graphing calculators can perform the same functions as a Scientific Calculator can, and then some. The main difference is that scientific calculators will not represent any function graphically. Graphing calculators have larger screens, are bulkier, and can even perform computer programming functions.

A scientific calculator will always be able to solve complex mathematics: you will always be able to solve exponents, fractions, trigonometric functions, and equations that require parentheses. Scientific calculators are generally accepted for college entrance exams. Graphing calculators are generally prohibited.

We could identify a abacus like the very first calculator. Dating back to 2500 BC in Sumer, the abacus consists of a wooden or metal frame. The frames contain beads that can be moved along a wire. The abacus was effective for basic addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

The mechanical calculator would not arrive for a few millennia. French mathematician Blaise Pascal is often credited as the father of the mechanical calculator along with the Pascal calculator, also known as Pascaline. The machine used wheels and spokes to calculate sums.

Soon after, Pascal’s design and success inspired a number of other mechanical designs between the 1600s and the late 1800s. The very first commercially successful calculator was created by Charles Xavier Thomas of Colmar in 1851. During part of the late 1800s, it was the only mechanical calculator readily available for purchase.

The very first electronic desktop calculator was released in 1961 by British manufacturer Bell Punch Co. and was dubbed ANITA MK-8. A few years later, Texas Instruments would release the first portable calculator. It weighed nearly 4 pounds, included a small 18-key keypad, and could display up to 12 digits.

The most direct predecessor of the graphing calculator was the programmable calculator from Hewlett-Packard, which debuted in 1974. This calculator was designed to fit in a shirt pocket and could be programmed with 100 lines of code.

### The birth of the graphing calculator

While all previous calculator models led the way, the first real graphing calculator was produced by the Japanese manufacturer Casio in 1985. The Casio fx-7000G had over 400 bytes of memory and provided 82 scientific functions. The calculator was quickly used in schools across the country, prompting competitors to develop theirs. A year later, Sharp released its graphing calculator as the EL-5200. A few years later, Hewlett-Packard launched the HP-28C. Texas Instruments is perhaps the most well-known manufacturer of graphing calculators today. They debuted the first of their “TI” series in 1990 with the TI-81.

## What a graphing calculator can do

### Advanced algebra and trigonometry functions

You will be able to graph sine and cosine graphs like y = cos (x) or y = sine (x) on a graphing calculator – even simultaneously, for some. The sine and cosine functions appear as repeating waves. If you display both functions simultaneously, you may even be able to color-code the separate functions.

### Use a computer algebra system (CAS)

A number of 21st century graphing calculators include a computer algebra system. A CAS will display numerical and symbolic results, a complement to the manipulation of algebraic expressions and equations by factoring, expanding or simplifying them. For example, you can enter a factor of type command ((xâµ + 4x +210 Ã· 2)).

Not all math classes will need a graphing calculator with a CAS. The TI-nspire CX II CAS, the HP Prime and Casio fx-CG500 contain a CAS. But one of the most popular graphing calculators, the TI-84 Plus, doesn’t. A CAS calculator is ideal for students of higher level math courses like Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Calculus.

Graphing calculators are a natural choice for any statistics course, given the density of images in the field. Statistics students can use the calculator to plot scatter plots, whisker plots, generate random numbers, and statistical plots.

### Programming and writing code

While this goes beyond high school math functions, it is quite possible to use a graphing calculator to create code. In addition, a number of graphing calculators come with a USB cable, which allows you to easily transfer data from your calculator to the computer and vice versa.

## Graphing Calculator Features

If you are considering a graphing calculator in the near future, there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind while browsing.

### Graphing Calculator Display Screen

A large enough screen is essential for viewing graphs and matrices on the calculator. Many models today are equipped with an LCD screen, some even in color, and also have a split screen function. Another increasingly popular feature is the touchscreen with a style.

Graphing calculators will have many more buttons than conventional or scientific calculators. Depending on who uses the calculator, you can consider the size of the keys and how easily they are pressed. Bigger buttons are useful for big fingers, but buttons that are too big can make the calculator a little clunky. You can also look for a calculator with a backlight, especially if you plan to use the calculator in low light conditions.

### Graphing Calculator Battery Life

With all of its functions, graphing calculators are doomed to consume batteries. Some graphing calculators use AAA batteries while others use lithium batteries. A number of calculators include rechargeable batteries, some last up to a month before needing a refill.

### Graphing calculator memory

You will be able to record graphs and matrices with your graphing calculator. Depending on how much you want to save, pay attention to storage. Check the product label or the manufacturer’s website to see what’s available. Some calculators have nearly 4MB of flash storage, while others show the number of matrices or graphs that can be stored.

Many calculators, such as the TI-84, include both RAM and archive memory. RAM memory is short term, while archive memory lasts, even if your batteries unexpectedly drain or you drop your calculator on a hard surface.

### Durability of graphing calculator

Graphing calculators can cost anywhere from \$ 50 to \$ 175. It’s an investment, to say the least. The more expensive models often include a protective coating for the display screen and buttons. This is vital for calculators that are stuffed backpack or led from class to class. In addition to keeping a calculator safely covered, you can perform regular maintenance by using cotton swabs to clean between the keys and the edges of the display screen.

Ola Faleti is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a single mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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