The Birth Of Mobility Honored At The Smithsonian :: Symblogogy
Texas Instruments introduces the handheld calculator and the tools that enhance our business, communications, and entertainment lives ... changed the way we all relate to the world we live in forever.
The consumer electronics revolution (the evolution and packaging of electronic devices that have come to aid our lives over the last forty plus years) also created the enterprise mobility revolution and spawned the competitive growth of many of the retail giants of today.
By employing calculators that were redesigned with built-in memory and barcode symbology scanning capability, small regional companies like Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart employed data collection and accounting techniques that allowed the business effort to outstrip the competition. Timely and correct information about inventory levels was the key to this mega-store retailing growth and enterprise mobility datacollectors that Sam Walton and others utilized was the tool.
Today, the functional capabilities of consumer electronics and enterprise mobility are beginning to blend and become the same. Cellphones, cameras, and computers are morphing into devices that are equally useful to both dedications.
Consumers use cameras on cellphones to capture information through symbology and WiFi (PWC/PWH applications) in much the same way the associates at Wal-Mart or PETCO read symbols (barcodes) to gain information on which to base decisions and lead more successful lives.
The Smithsonian Institute recognizes the beginning of this revolution with a museum honor.
Excerpts from Computerworld -
TI's first handheld calculator is now a museum piece
Smithsonian honors pioneering device; co-inventor remembers 'progress on a daily basis'
By Patrick Thibodeau - Computerworld - September 26, 2007
In 1965, the consumer electronics revolution that would result in PCs, iPods, smart phones and myriad other electronic devices was still years off. And the predecessors of the integrated circuits that would power such products were being used mostly by the military.
But inside Texas Instruments Inc., an effort began to change that.
Jerry Merryman was part of a small team at TI given the task that year of creating a handheld calculator. Numerous problems arose, according to Merryman. The calculator had to work at low power, and it required a reliable keyboard and a chip with thousands of transistors. Nevertheless, a working model was delivered 18 months later, in 1967 -- giving TI the world's first electronic handheld calculator.
Merryman was asked at a ceremony held here on Tuesday if he thought the device would have the impact that it did. "No, really," he said. "I thought a few accountants might use them. I thought some engineering students might get them as presents. It was only later that I realized we were kicking off [the electronics] revolution.
TI's calculator became commercially available in 1970 and already is a part of the IT collection at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The museum also has the original 1967 prototype, which weighed 3 pounds, was encased in aluminum and ran on batteries. At the time the calculator was developed, existing models were heavy desktop devices -- not handhelds.
At yesterday's ceremony, the Smithsonian expanded its collection to include two of the first programmable calculators, the TI-58 and TI-59.
"Think about how these innovations affected our lives," said David Allison, a curator at the museum who called TI's calculator a unique device that "touched the lives of all Americans."
Despite the sweeping ambition of the original handheld project, Merryman said the calculator was developed without a set budget. "It was just work that we did in our spare time," he said. Merryman was joined at the Smithsonian's ceremony by another member of the team, James Van Tassel.
A third member, TI engineer Jack Kilby, died in 2005. Kilby invented the integrated circuit at TI in 1958 and later won the Nobel Prize for his work, which included holding 60 U.S. patents.
The initial calculators could handle basic math functions only. Nonetheless, Merryman believes that the devices helped students tackle more difficult problems. And math education is essential, he added.
Lovett said that technical jobs are growing at a double-digit rate in the U.S. But only 17% of undergraduates leave their schools with a math or science degree. In China, that percentage is 52%,he said, and in South Korea, it's 41%.
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