This pocket-sized piece of brainpower
can turn you into a mental
giant the power
to the head of the class.
the rate of chemical reactions or the
present value of an annuity, a hand-
held calculator will-in a myriad of
ways -give you the edge.
Instead of laboring over time-con-
suming calculations, you can focus on
what you're learning and let your cal-
culator do the computing. Then, too,
a calculator allows you to explore
complicated problems you wouldn't
dare undertake without it.
For example, with some of the new-
est hand-held models, you can enter
formulas from, say, an economics
text, and the calculator then takes
over, solving for the equation's
variables. The advantage: Even if you
can't do the math, you can work with
the results of the computations. And,
since many calculators have unit-
conversion capability, you won't have
to lug around heavy reference books
to look up, for example, how many
grams are in a pound.
Broadly speaking, calculators are
categorized as business (financial)
units or scientific (technical) models.
Facts on Financial Calculators
Financial calculators - geared for
students in business, finance, and eco-
nomics-should include, at a mini-
mum, the following functions: time
value of money, amortization, bond
yield and price, and internal rate of re-
turn. Some dedicated financial units
also have one-variable and two-vari-
able statistical functions, currency rate
conversion, and even a time-and-ap-
pointment feature. And for repetitive
calculations, you can easily program
the machine and later execute the pro-
gram with a touch of a button.
The advanced financial models have
lots of permanent storage, allowing
you to save everything you've done. On
one model, says Bill Wickes, software
project manager at Hewlett-Packard,
you can even print out your results us-
ing a cordless printer activated by an in-
frared light beam.
Scientific or technical calculators
serve students of math, engineering,
physics, chemistry, premed, and data
processing. These units perform as
many as 200 different scientific and
mathematical functions: reciprocals,
complex numbers, and the like. In ad-
dition, there are statistical functions,
including mean, standard deviations,
and normal distributions.
But the heart-and-soul of these cal-
culators is their programmability. "In
the 'hard' sciences," says Wickes,
"the problems are so varied that it's
impossible to provide a prepro-
grammed key for every situation."
This type of calculator, therefore,
serves as a tool box, from which stu-
dents select the tools they need for
each specific application.
Math students and teachers alike
are raving about one of the most ad-
vanced scientific models, which allows
the user to do calculations involving
symbols and matrices- in effect, solv-
ing many of the problems found in ele-
mentary calculus. These problems can
now be presented graphically on the
multi-line displays that are common in
the newest models.
What handy devices, these hand-
held calculators. You'll work faster,
smarter, and with fewer errors. Don't
be caught empty-handed. O
eep these guidelines in
mind when purchasing a
* Suit your own needs. As with any
other purchase, be sure first to
identify your specific needs and
then look for the particular model
that fills them. Social science ma-
jors can probably get by with the
basic statistical functions, while en-
gineering majors need program-
mable calculators with a full range
of functions. Ask students who
have just taken the course what cal-
culator they found useful.
" Decide on the power source.
Hand-held calculators are either
battery-powered or solar-powered.
Some batteries can be recharged;
others must be replaced every year
or so. Solar units require a light
source sufficient to power the solar
cells, so be sure the solar calculator
you buy will work in the light level
that will be available.
" Take a good look at the display.
Most calculators now have a liquid
crystal display (LCD). The display
should be easily read, even in rela-
tively dim light (such as when the
overhead projector is on during a
lecture). And remember, you may
be looking at that tiny screen for
long periods of time.
" Try out the keypad. Are the keys
easy to press without error? Do you
like the touch?
" Consider durability. How much
wear and tear will this calculator
have to take? Does the manufac-
turer have a reputation for building
rugged calculators? Do you need
one that's encased in a hard pack,
which provides maximum protec-
tion? Or is a simple vinyl covering
* Check the warranty. Your calcu-
lator should have at least a one-year
warranty, and for a more advanced
model you may want to buy a ser-
I EA B ASS
Stop the world- I want to log on!
It's a new campus game called "Dial-
ing for Data" - all you need is a com-
puter, a telephone, and a little thing
called a modem. Get those three
gadgets working in your corner, and
you have a world by the tail.... a world
With a little help from your elec-
tronic "friends," you can:
" Research a term paper after the li-
brary shuts down.
" Hunt for a job.
14 plus/FALL 88
" "Download" free computer soft-
* "Log on" to more than 3,000 data
bases - computer files of information
on everything from agriculture to zoo
" Engage in electronic debates (via
"bulletin boards") on politics, nu-
clear power, etc.
* Mull over the late-breaking finan-
" Take a college course offered 1,000
ILLUSTRATION BY JULIE KOTAR
ILLUSTRATION BY TIM WALKER
FALL 88/plus 11