Calculators are devices that allow the user to perform mathematical operations. Most schools use basic calculators which allow the user to perform tasks such as addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division. More advanced calculators may include features such is related to trigonometry, logarithms, exponents, multi-base calculations, and other mathematical operations.


Before electronic calculators were made, they were hand-operated. In ancient times in Egypt and Sumer, this calculator-like invention was known as an abacus. Used for mostly addition and subtraction, the abacus had rows of beads or stones representing units.

The first true"calculator" was invented in 1642,and performed calculations through a clockwork-type of mechanism. Calulcators were popularized and sold as a commercial product in 1820, and by then could perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The first electronic calculator were invented in the early 1960s, while editions made to fit in a pocket did not get invented until around 1970s with the Intel 4004. These handheld calculators were invented by Texas Instruments (TI), which may sound familiar because they have become standard in many classrooms nationwide.

Math Competitions

For some middle school and high-school mathematical competitions, any calculator is allowed, so long as the calculator is not accompanied by a QWERTY keyboard. This is to prevent phones or other devices that are connected to the Internet from being used during the competition. However, elementary-school math competitions generally ban calculators as many of their problems are based on being able to perform calculations accurately.