Calculators are devices, usually hand-held, used to perform mathematical expressions. Calculators are popular for the ease they bring to complex mathematical solutions. Developed in the early sixties, it was not until 1970, that these devices became popular. Let’s learn about ‘Is A Calculator A Computer?’.

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**Is A Calculator A Computer?**

Calculators range in size from pocket-sized to heavy desktop models that come with installed printers and other functionality. The question of whether a calculator is regarded as a computer has been one of many conversations and debates. Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences.

**Is a calculator a computer?:**

The short answer is yes. A calculator is a type of simple computer. However, as we progress and begin to explore their parts we can identify certain differences that exist between computer systems and calculators.

**What Are Similarities Between A Computer And Calculators?**

Computers and calculators are cut from the same cloth. Both are machines that perform operations.

One major uniting identity between both devices is that they need electrical power to kickstart their operations. Both the computer and calculator require electricity to turn on and function.

Another similarity is the presence of both input and storage devices. A keyboard is used for inputs and a storage mechanism that holds in memory the values inputted. Despite the difference in complexity of operations handled by both devices, the computer and calculator can execute the numerical analysis. They both perform the function of calculating and processing numbers to give results.

** Differences Between Calculators and Computers**

**The Difference in the Speed**: Yeah, calculators can be pretty fast for helping you finish that last question on a math test just before the timer runs out. But compared to the speed of computers, that is nothing compared to computers.

Calculators are limited in the number of operations that they can perform per time. Usually, most calculators can only handle a single operation per session. There are also super calculators used for complex equations and although these can handle a lot more operations and much more functions, they still can not be compared to computers.

Computers come with RAM, memory storage capable of holding multiple operations and as a result, they can perform multiple operations simultaneously. They do this by processing data fed into them, producing results with speed and accuracy.

**Connectivity**: Another capacity of a computer that differentiates it from a calculator is its ability to connect to multiple devices. Using protocols, computer systems can connect to networks and also create networks, acting as systems of connectivity.

This means that computers can establish communication channels between themselves and other devices through network channels. Anyone can access information from another computer system through these channels.

A calculator, on the other hand, is incapable of doing this. Most calculators can not transfer information between themselves and although some high-end calculator devices come inbuilt with Wi-Fi properties, sharing usually happens, and this, is seldom through a USB cable.

**Size is another factor**: Size usually determines the functionality of any device. It also suggests the range of activities any device handles. Computers come in various sizes, and these different-sized computers can handle diverse activities. Computers perform several functions and require a lot of hardware components.

Computers have hardware parts such as keypads, monitors, screens and displays, etc. These components are usually the factors influencing their sizes. Calculators on the other hand are a lot smaller in comparison. With recent technological components, calculators are much smaller and they have refined parts that have been made smaller yet more powerful. The advent of microchipping and other size-reducing technology has enabled devices like the calculator to undergo refinement in parts, leading to shrinking, although their functionality has been increased to accommodate more operations.

As technology advances, the size of technology devices is no longer determined by the need for specific components and add-ons but instead, a factor influenced by the way and manner people choose to use and interact with them.

**Computers are more programmable**: This difference is one of the strongest separating factors between both devices. Both devices work based on the programs that are encoded in them. But the level and flexibility of programming each of them are very different, thus, leading to their difference in use.

Computers function based on the programs in them. Computer programs are instructions given to the computer through which it carries out its operations. These instructions can enable the computer to carry out complex tasks. Computers are programmed to carry out tasks independent of human assistance or input, making them smarter than a calculator. One such example is the booting system or the search for a suitable wifi network. Both operations, when initialized usually go through a range of activities until the final result is achieved and these can take seconds to minutes without any manual intervention.

The presence of a more complex memory system on computers also enables them to handle operations repeatedly. In other words, computers can execute programs written just once, repeatedly.

But calculators on the other hand are limited in programmability. A calculator has limited storage capacity and usually handles programs sequentially. They also require manual interventions for the execution of most programs. To have a calculator repeat the execution of a program you will have to hit the same keys to initiate the sequence. Other general-purpose calculators are programmable to handle more than a single type of operation, but this flexibility is limited when compared to what can be accomplished on a computer system.

**The difference is in the display**: A huge difference is in the display of both devices. Both the computer and calculator have display screens, however, the computers differ in the range of formats that can be displayed. An average computer system displays texts, videos, numerals, and even pictures.

Computers can also show multiple display formats. On a Pc, pictures can display at the same time as text. Videos and numerals can also be shown simultaneously.

However, calculators are limited in their display. The screen size for a calculator is smaller and restricted to numerals and mathematical operations. There are more advanced calculators with higher functionalities. But despite these, the calculator’s display is restricted compared to a computer.

**Uses of a calculator**

This might sound like an obvious case; calculators are used for calculating figures. However, with recent advancements in technology, calculators have increased the range of operations that they can handle.

With the advent of the internet and the online space, more and more specific purpose calculators have been made. One of which is the pregnancy due date calculator. These are recent types of calculators that have been made to enable expectant mothers to calculate with precision their exact date of delivery. Other types include those used in determining the number of calories needed by the body and the amount burned during fitness training. Students can now calculate with clarity their expected grade points. Even financial experts can now perform different functions, like, currency conversion, profit and interest rate estimations and even calculations for stock market operations with these upgraded models of calculators.

These newer types of calculating devices have higher processing capacities and might require inputs of specific details for them to perform the queried operation.

As advancements continue in the world, we will also continue to see improvement in the calculator. More accurately, calculators for specific operations will be made to enable speedy computation of certain problems. This will increase the range and function of the calculating device.

**Conclusion**

It is important to note that a calculator is also a type of computing system. Generally, calculators are referred to as simple computers because of their limited operations. Most computers can carry out all of the operations of a calculator. They are programmed to handle multiple operations with ease and in most cases concurrently. Computers also can make decisions, running programmes independent of manual interventions, while the calculating system is usually limited to specific programs.

Other elements such as size, software components, memory and display mechanisms can further deepen the differences between both devices. This, however, does not negate the simple fact that a calculator, though limited, can be considered a type of simple computer.

Therefore, is a calculator also a computer? Well, the answer is yes. Calculators are mini computers. However, with increased functions and parts in a computer system, there are differences between both devices.

##### **Frequently Asked Questions:**

**What kind of computer is a calculator?**

Answer: Originally, computers are computational devices. Meaning they evolved from their predecessors, the abacus, etc. As computation

devices, they handle multiple computations, some of which are, additions, subtractions, notations, graphs, word processing, and many more. Therefore, calculators are simple computation devices.

**What are the types of calculators?**

Answer: Generally, calculators are differentiated based on different factors. Some of these factors are, their functionality, size and use. Therefore, the different types of calculators can only be determined based on these factors. Types of calculators based on their uses include; Graphing, financial, scientific and basic calculators. Meanwhile, based on their operations, we have; comparison, text concentration and arithmetic calculators.