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Calculator Wars at your School - cesarb94 - 06-19-2021 02:07 PM

I'm interested in knowing what were the groups that fought each other arguing which had the best calculator at your school and also at which time frame.

For me, in my bachelor in Mech. Eng. It was the HP50g/48g vs. the Casio FX82-MS. The Casio guys argued that using a Graphing calculator was too easy, and they were the real engineers. Never seen anyone with a TI calculator there. Meanwhile me and the Heat Transfer prof were the only ones with a 35s.

This was from 2011 to 2017, at my uni in Brazil. Now in my masters, everyone uses the 50g.

What about at your location?


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Garth Wilson - 06-19-2021 06:36 PM

I was the last holdout of my peers to use a slide rule, and they showed a degree of mystery and respect about it. As for graphing, it seems to me that usually if you need a graph, you probably don't understand it, and the graph won't really help. Our kids were required to get graphing calculators in high school. The older one took my old TI-59 and did better than the kids who had graphing calcs. My wife bought the younger one the TI-83, but he never used it for graphing. Both of them said that the other kids mainly used the graphing calcs to play games. This was before smartphones.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - toml_12953 - 06-19-2021 07:51 PM

(06-19-2021 02:07 PM)cesarb94 Wrote:  I'm interested in knowing what were the groups that fought each other arguing which had the best calculator at your school and also at which time frame.

For me, in my bachelor in Mech. Eng. It was the HP50g/48g vs. the Casio FX82-MS. The Casio guys argued that using a Graphing calculator was too easy, and they were the real engineers. Never seen anyone with a TI calculator there. Meanwhile me and the Heat Transfer prof were the only ones with a 35s.

This was from 2011 to 2017, at my uni in Brazil. Now in my masters, everyone uses the 50g.

What about at your location?

When I was in school, there was only the HP-35, HP-45, HP-65 and SR-50 and SR-51 plus a bunch from smaller makers. Not enough people had calculators to have any disagreements about them!


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - floppy - 06-19-2021 09:12 PM

I had an HP41CV during Baccalaureat/MathSup/MathSpe: nobody knows it. I was the unicorn. RPN made anybody keeping his fingers out of it (however: I could not use any casio from others.. that was sooo weird with ()= and weird new thinking for me haha). So, war? no. I had the ultimative atom weapon. Nobody else had an idea (and I was not smart enough to use a casio ;-).
Then I moved to big computer systems and other activities like project management. However, I realized my all life how much accountants and engineers have no idea with programming. this is terrible. programming (whatever job you do), make you thinking in repeatable sequences. and thats good for any organization (I would send any beginner to a python course.. in sales or accounting.. or whatever).


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - johanw - 06-20-2021 12:02 AM

In highschool we mostly used some cheap Veneka scientific calculator, the school advised that model because it was cheap. I still have it and it still works.

For myself I bought a Casio FX-98 then, a credit card sized calculator on solar power. Also still works.

When I started university I got one of the first a graphing calculators, a Casio FX-8000G. Same model as the cheaper 7000G but with an added printer port that I didn't need but the 7000 was sold out. That was long before internet shops existed.

I did have a friendly discussion about which was better with someone who had a HP28s. At that time I didn't understand how it worked but I was very impressed with its matrix and even symbolic capabilities. However, I could not afford one then after buying the 8000.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - John Keith - 06-20-2021 04:19 PM

When I was in high school (1970's) calculators were fairly uncommon. The only "wars" at the time were whether
students should be allowed to use calculators at all.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Steve Simpkin - 06-20-2021 06:43 PM

(06-20-2021 04:19 PM)John Keith Wrote:  When I was in high school (1970's) calculators were fairly uncommon. The only "wars" at the time were whether
students should be allowed to use calculators at all.

John, That was the same for me although we were required to have a scientific calculator in chemistry class which was around 1978-1979. Calculators were not allowed in any other class I had. As far as I know, I was the only person who had a HP calculator in that class (HP-25) or possibly that entire high school at that time.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - cdmackay - 06-20-2021 07:47 PM

My memory of secondary (high) school (ages 11–18) in the UK, late 70s -- early 80s, was of a Casio monopoly, non-programmable, fx-81 etc. I don't recall anyone having a calc from another manufacturer.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Steve Simpkin - 06-20-2021 08:15 PM

I also remember when I attended my first college level electronics class in 1980 that there was still a giant working model of a slide rule hanging at the front of the classroom. One day we did a series of complex calculations that took about 5 minutes on our calculators. The instructor pointed to the giant slide rule and said a few years ago we were still using slide rules in this class and the problem we just did in 5 minutes took about 40 minutes to finish. Most of us were shocked since even in 1980 most of us had never used a slide rule.

Slide rules dominated the engineering and science fields for over a hundred years and were completely replaced in only about 4 years. Even the electronic scientific calculator that replaced it was largely replaced by personal computers in theses fields within about 15-20 years.

https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object-groups/slide-rules


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - lmamakos - 06-20-2021 09:17 PM

In high school chemistry, probably 1976 or so, my teacher only allowed us to use a slide rule in class and for exams. He said that his 4 year old daughter knew how to use a calculator, and didn't know what she was computing; we were going to have to know the units and orders of magnitude to get the correct answers.

We all got the option to buy this one "Concise Science Tabls and Circular Slide Rule" through the class. I think it was probably $5 or $7 at the time. If you knew what was good for you, this is what you ordered! It had a periodic table of elements on the back, and a plastic insert card with a bunch of constants and formulae that you didn't have to memorize for the exam. And since it was a circular slide rule, you never ran off the end.

I loved this thing, but somewhere along the way I lost track of it over the years. So of course I had to buy a replacement from eBay for $40 or $50 for absolutely no good reason..

By the way, if you're into slide rules at all, you must know about the International Slide Rule Museum web site! Another labor of love, with so much useful historical information.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Garth Wilson - 06-20-2021 09:25 PM

(06-20-2021 08:15 PM)Steve Simpkin Wrote:  I also remember when I attended my first college level electronics class in 1980 that there was still a giant working model of a slide rule hanging at the front of the classroom. One day we did a series of complex calculations that took about 5 minutes on our calculators. The instructor pointed to the giant slide rule and said a few years ago we were still using slide rules in this class and the problem we just did in 5 minutes took about 40 minutes to finish. Most of us were shocked since even in 1980 most of us had never used a slide rule.

Hmmm... I'd say someone was not very skilled at the slide rule! Someone who's skilled at it should be able to get answers just about as quickly as with a calculator. The big difference came when calculators became programmable and could carry out ten instructions per second. That's where I left the slide rule behind.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - cesarb94 - 06-20-2021 09:27 PM

(06-20-2021 08:15 PM)Steve Simpkin Wrote:  The instructor pointed to the giant slide rule and said a few years ago we were still using slide rules in this class and the problem we just did in 5 minutes took about 40 minutes to finish. Most of us were shocked since even in 1980 most of us had never used a slide rule.

I talked to my father about his today, he said that when he went to college, late 70's, no one was using slide rules anymore around here too, but pocket calculators were very uncommon, due to their price. He studied economics.
He also said that in one course, the professor allowed the use of calculators. Most of the students also had jobs, so they brought their desktop calculators from work to take the exams. There were not enough power outlets for all students...


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Steve Simpkin - 06-20-2021 10:01 PM

(06-20-2021 09:25 PM)Garth Wilson Wrote:  
(06-20-2021 08:15 PM)Steve Simpkin Wrote:  I also remember when I attended my first college level electronics class in 1980 that there was still a giant working model of a slide rule hanging at the front of the classroom. One day we did a series of complex calculations that took about 5 minutes on our calculators. The instructor pointed to the giant slide rule and said a few years ago we were still using slide rules in this class and the problem we just did in 5 minutes took about 40 minutes to finish. Most of us were shocked since even in 1980 most of us had never used a slide rule.

Hmmm... I'd say someone was not very skilled at the slide rule! Someone who's skilled at it should be able to get answers just about as quickly as with a calculator. The big difference came when calculators became programmable and could carry out ten instructions per second. That's where I left the slide rule behind.

Yes, he mentioned since this was a 101 elementary electronics class that he also taught students how to use a slide rule so much of that 40 minute time may have been spent assisting students with using their slide rules on the problem. I also recall that the problems we were working on required a number of polar->rectangular and rectangular->polar conversions which require more steps using a slide rule vs entering two numbers and pressing a conversion key on a calculator. We were free to use any scientific calculator model we wanted but he did recommend choosing one that had those conversations built-in. My HP-25 had that and was programmable. I remember more than once writing a short program to do something repetitive in class.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Maximilian Hohmann - 06-20-2021 10:17 PM

Hello!

At school we went straight from paper and pencil to calculators in 1976 or maybe 1977. The sliderule was completely bypassed. It was only mentioned briefly when the logarithms were introduced in mathematics. The teacher dusted off one of these blackboard-sized demonstration slide rules and showed us how they were used back in their days.

Calculator wise we were allowed to buy what we wanted (or what our parents considered a justifiable expense) and use it in all science classes. This meant that almost every student in my class had a different calculator and interestingly I still remember many of the student<>calculator pairings now, 45 years later. All of them had a luninous display because affordable scientific LCD calculators came only many years later, so it was either LED of fluorescent. Nobody had a calculator from HP (they were crazily expensive in Europe in those years, three or four times as much as all the others) and even later at university, HPs were used by a tiny miniority only. The only HP calculator I ever touched before I became a collector myself was my dad's HP67 (which actually belonged to his employer).

I don't remember any "calculator wars". Just some curiosity regarding what ones class neighbors calculator was able to do which ones own couldn't (e.g. factorials). Later at university we had a "numerical treatment of differential equations" course where either access to a mainframe computer or a programmable calculator was absolutely required. We did some benchmarking among our calculators and my Ti-59, which was maybe three years old then, was dwarfed by the then latest model of Casio, the fx-602P. But I kept to my Ti-59 because after that differntial equations course was finished I never again needed any significant computing power from a pocket calculator.

Regards
Max


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Paul Berger (Canada) - 06-21-2021 03:11 AM

In high school in the early 70s I only had one class where a calculator would have been helpful for doing load calculations that involved vectors. Our instructor did not believe that hand held calculators where reliable so he obliged us to learn to use a slide rule, I still have mine a inexpensive plastic Sterling.

A few years later when I was taking my electronic technician course we where told that we would need a calculator. There was no one brand that dominated, in my class my Commodore PR-100 probably had the most built in function and was the only programmable. When I was in my second year, one of the new first year students showed up with a shiny new TI-59. I do not recall anyone having a HP calculator, I had considered them, but settled on the PR-100 as it seemed to offer the most bang for the buck... if only I knew then what I know now..

Paul.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - OlidaBel - 06-21-2021 12:32 PM

At university, studying engineering between 87 and 92, there was a "war" between the HP-28S/48 people and the others on pocket computers : Casio FX850p, 1 Psion ;-) and maybe some Sharp models. The Casio FX850p was clearly the most popular among the BASIC calculators.
We had great fun programming the 28S and 48Gx during "numerical methods" course, statistics (anova!), thermodynamics, etc. Coming from a HP-15C, Rpl opened an exciting new era.
These were good days, clearly. :-)


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Eddie W. Shore - 06-21-2021 12:55 PM

(06-19-2021 09:12 PM)floppy Wrote:  I had an HP41CV during Baccalaureat/MathSup/MathSpe: nobody knows it. I was the unicorn. RPN made anybody keeping his fingers out of it (however: I could not use any casio from others.. that was sooo weird with ()= and weird new thinking for me haha). So, war? no. I had the ultimative atom weapon. Nobody else had an idea (and I was not smart enough to use a casio ;-).
Then I moved to big computer systems and other activities like project management. However, I realized my all life how much accountants and engineers have no idea with programming. this is terrible. programming (whatever job you do), make you thinking in repeatable sequences. and thats good for any organization (I would send any beginner to a python course.. in sales or accounting.. or whatever).

I like your idea of sending salespeople and accountants to a Python course. If nothing else, this would break the monotony of the job.

Eddie


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - lrdheat - 06-21-2021 02:44 PM

In 1973, in the meteorology library at Florida State University, there were 2 special chairs with desk top available for students to use. Both of these had HP-35’s securely locked into the desk tops! In 1973, the science majors could easily be identified by the slide rule holsters on their hips! By 1975, slide rules were much rarer.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Alejandro Paz(Germany) - 06-22-2021 12:38 PM

I used to bring aHP-12C to school when I was in 7th grade, some kids had casios or sharps. Later, when I was in 4th year of middle school, in '91 I brought a 28 and a 48 I to school. A couple classmates were so impressed that they bought themselves one a 28 and two others a 48. They were extremely expensive back then. I couldn't afford them myself but my father got them from work, discarded calcs that couldn't be repaired (he worked at HP), the 28 didn't have any problems besides myself opening it and gluing it back together, would lose its memory every now and then. The 48 was missing some vertical lines on the display, a common fault then. Some had graphing casios. And were like mine graphs faster... yeah maybe it also had 96 pixels across instead of 131 Smile.


RE: Calculator Wars at your School - Benjer - 06-23-2021 05:00 AM

Attended high school '99-'03.

Virtually everyone had a TI. Most had the TI-30X IIS, some had the TI-30X (battery- or solar-powered).

The better-off students had the relatively new TI-83 Plus and a select few had the TI-89, considered something of a holy grail. I had a TI-86 that I had saved up for and I think I was the only person in school who did. A small handful of students had Casios. A friend of mine had one that could graph in 3 colors. Nobody knew HP as anything other than the company that makes printers.

I didn't return for college until 2017 (took me a while, hehe). To my amazement the TI-83 Plus was still commonplace although the TI-84 CE was perhaps more common by that point. The TI-Nspire was considered the top of the line. I met only a few people who knew HP made calculators. Their reputation as a printer company was still going strong.