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Why do calculator manufactures like to reinvent the wheel?
03-10-2014, 10:30 PM
Post: #9
RE: Why do calculator manufactures like to reinvent the wheel?
(03-10-2014 09:08 AM)HP67 Wrote:  A calculator is not a general purpose computing platform. HP has been selling handhelds and small tablets. To differentiate things enough that a calculator retains any meaning at all, means it has to be a calculator, above all else. Otherwise, what's the point? Just buy a cellphone app.

Yes, but we are in 2014: the whole concept of advanced (rechargeable) calculators makes little sense. The only advantages a calculator has are ergonomics and dependability. I suspect that basic scientific calculators will be around for decades, but when everybody has a multi-core computer with lots of RAM in their pocket it's just a matter of time that a killer piece of software capable of doing everything else on the go appears. Wolfram Alpha is getting close, even emulators are.

They can survive (and thrive) because of the educational lock-in. Somehow calculator companies have been successful in convincing people that for high school and maybe a couple of college courses calculators are an effective way to teach Mathematics, they are not (if they were students just would get better at it), but they make so much easy the life of mediocre teachers that they'll probably stay for a while. (And then there are the exam policies requiring crippled devices... it's just broken and sad.) Imagine that electronic dictionaries were compulsory at school, that's more or less the situation.

Slide rules weren't obsoleted by better slide rules, it took the electronic calculator, which really was an idea from the semiconductor companies in order to sell more ICs, yet it became something useful and then successful.

Now, if we were thinking about a way to evolve the advanced calculator from the 90s (which really pre-dates the widespread home computer revolution) into something meaningful in the 20s, maybe there's room for that.

There is demand for a cheap programmable device with standard IO capabilities and low power requirements, think about the Raspberry Pi. A standard development environment is a must.

Think about calculators in the electronics lab. Why not an oscilloscope module?

And for doing Maths, the only thing I miss in a computer is a dedicated keyboard. A calculator should be a piece within a computing environment, not a totally isolated one in itself. I should be able to share a calculator session with my computer when I'm done. I should be able to open an Excel file in the calculator if I'm going to do some statistics there. What about a Matlab friendly calculator?

My guess is that when a school-oriented tablet comes along all these niche calculators that we are talking about will be dead.
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RE: Why do calculator manufactures like to reinvent the wheel? - Manolo Sobrino - 03-10-2014 10:30 PM

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