Re: How does a calculator work?

From: Simon Southwell
Email: simon@anita-simulators.org.uk


Nancy. I've been thinking about this question since your posting, and it is a more difficult question than it initially appears. Even the early four-function electronic calculators rely on a lot of computer theory developed in the 50s and 60s, and, indeed, the world's first microprocessor (the Intel 4004) was designed for use in a calculator. However, at the most basic level the operations are fairly simple. On 'Howstuffworks' (and absolutely fantastic repository of interesting information), there is an article about how 'addition' is done. computer.howstuffworks.com/boolean2.htm. You'll have to judge for yourself whether this is still too advanced for a 7 year old. Or maybe it'll lead to a career in electronics engineering! (A stirling profession, if I say so myself). At the very least, congratulate your son on a good question. I may even attempt write my own article on this subject for my website (but not likely in time for your son's needs).