The Numworks Calculator


Math isn’t boring. However, sometimes educational techniques don’t help making it interesting. Look at graphing calculators for example. They still embody an aesthetic from the 80s and 90s, and not in a good way. Looking more outdated than retro, these calculators are instruments of the profession, but they do little to spark curiosity or interest in it… More at YD.

Nice to see someone doing something with the humble calculator. Pricey, but beautifully designed.

Categories: Misc

6 replies

  1. In the USA, our schools have been weirdly dominated by the TI-81 and it successors – which only seemed somewhat technically impressive when I was in high school in the late 80s/early90s. And those successors seemed to be rather small incremental improvements. I think it might be the TI was kind of a known quantity especially in exam situations (not withstanding an interesting little subculture of people doing hacked up games on it) Dunno if the situation was similar there.

  2. Even though I have a number of calculator apps on my iPhone and my iMac, I keep a calculator on my desk. I found it surprising how often I use a calculator and it’s faster to reach for the calculator than open an app. I guess the only thing I miss is being able to copy and paste from the calculator to another device.

    • Ever just plug it into google? Not bad for light stuff, and has the copy and paste.

      I remember reading one book about some old(ish) computer deveelopment days, maybe early-80s, and a calculator was on the dev’s desk. At the time I wondered if it was just a goofy “well that’s what an author thinks a computer programmer would need” or legit, but even for me a bit of pixel math or what not comes up often enough that it’s good to have a go-to device.

      Sometimes for fun its amusing to do long division by hand… such an odd little “algorithm” we run on paper for that.

      • “some old(ish) computer development days, maybe early-80s”!!! I must seem ancient 🙂 I started programming in 1968 at university. My first real programming job started in 1973. I remember when the first calculator under $100 Canadian came out. In fact my last year of university (1968-1969), we weren’t allowed to use calculators and had to use log tables because not everyone had calculators since they were so expensive.

        My mother made sure I knew my arithmetic. She taught math in elementary school. I still have a Hall & Knight algebra text of hers. Talk about keepsakes.

        In any case, I can do the simple stuff in my head. I looked at Google, but it’s still opening an app. I might as well have the calculator app in my dock. I think the difference for me is focus. When I’m using a calculator, that’s all I’m using or looking at. It’s in my hand and my other hand is entering numbers or functions and my eyes are looking at the keyboard. No touch typing on a calculator if I want accurate results. I did try the calculator apps years ago but switched back to a hand held calculator.

        I know there’s a newer algorithm for long division. I’ve had it explained to me, but the old method is so ingrained that I’ve forgotten that newer method even though it’s supposed to be faster.

        • My vague memory of your storied history is why I added the “ish” to old(ish) 😀

          Hope they’re still teaching guesstimation, to doublecheck the calculator math…

          • Does that make you middle(ish)?

            Don’t know about the rest of the world, but our provincial elementary math curriculum is producing the worst test results in years. Whenever I present basic budgeting to grade 8, the kids have their calculators out. But if I tell them to estimate using 25% or a quarter of something, I’m too often met with a blank stare. And calculating a 20% tip by moving the decimal point to divide by 10 and then double it, well forget that.

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