15.Consumer Electronics by John G. Webster (Editor)

By John G. Webster (Editor)

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So they are as portable as calculators, but they still do not have dedicated calculating functionality. Users must go out of their way to select and run a calculator application on a handheld PC. The keypad of a hand-held PC has a QWERTY keyboard layout, and so does not have keys dedicated to calculator functions like sine, cosine, and logarithms. Hand-held organizers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are closer to the calculator model, because they are personal, portable, battery-operated electronic devices dedicated to particular functionality, but they currently emphasize organizer functionality rather than mathematics functionality.

The user may have some choice about the format of that number, such as how many digits to display to the right of the decimal point, or if the number should be shown using scientific notation. Error messages can be shown by spelling out short words in the display. Calculators more complicated than the simple four-function ones may not have enough keys on the keypad to use one for every operation the calculator can perform. Then it becomes necessary to provide a more extensive user interface than just a simple keypad.

It was developed to compute artillery firing tables for World War II and could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and compute square roots. More than 17,000 vacuum tubes and 6,000 manual switches were used to build ENIAC, and it filled a large room. The invention of the transistor (replacing vacuum tubes) followed by the invention of the integrated circuit by Jack Kilby in 1958 led to the shrinking of electronic machinery until simple electronic computer functionality could be put into a package small enough to fit into a hand or a pocket.

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