Calculators, Angles and Coordinates, Oh My!
May 16, 2023

Calculators, Angles and Coordinates, Oh My!

The tools used daily by engineers have certainly changed over time.

At one time, engineers used “Addiator” type calculators, a mechanical add/subtract personal calculator, to add feet, inches and fractions to documents. Versions of the Addiator were produced between 1920 and 1982 and were composed of metal sliders inside a metal envelope, manipulated by a stylus with the capability to carry such as subtract ten, carry one.

In 1967, Texas Instruments developed a handheld electronic calculator that replaced the Addiator type calculators and slide rules. In the 1970s and 1980s, scientific and graphing calculators were introduced. By 1993, calculators appeared on cell phones, conveniently accessible at all times.

C.K. Smoley produced books for Engineers, Architects and Students. The books were Combined Tables Books focused on Logarithms and Squares, Slopes and Rises, Logarithmic Trigonometric Tables and Segmental Functions – essentially, they were used to calculate angles and lengths and understand sins, co-sins, and tangents. Today, engineers use GPS coordinates, Google search, laser scans and 3D modeling to assist in determining information like this.

What will change in the next 65 years to improve our capabilities, effectiveness, and precision?