Building Your Own Microcontroller Calculator

Electronic calculators have been around now for nearly 50 years. Early forms of electronic calculators were bulky, cumbersome and took quite a bit of knowledge to use. But in the mid 1960’s Dr. Wang of Wang Laboratories made many improvements to the electronic calculator, eventually leading to the machine we know so well today.

Other manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard were also busy with early calculator designs. HP released the world’s first “pocket” calculator in the late 1960’s. The greatest improvement to any of these designs however was the use of microelectronics. Without the silicon chip Hewlett-Packard could have never invented the “pocket” calculator.

And the greatest microelectronic device ever created was actually intended to be a CALCULATOR CHIP! I am speaking of the Intel 4000, the world’s first MICROPROCESSOR! Although it was never used by its original contractor in a calculator, the i4000 became the example for which all microprocessors were eventually designed. Instead, the calculator world went in a totally different direction dense hardware. Calculator “chips” are not microprocessors. Instead, they are complicated large-scale integration devices which act “kinda-like” a microprocessor but actually do their work in dense hardware. This left the microprocessor available for use in other devices, and eventually in small mini computers. In the meantime, the calculator chip evolved into a compact, high transistor count specialized device, simplified down to the basics and manufactured on the cheap.

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