The first handheld calculator was invented at TI in 1967. The project was code-named “Cal Tech.” This model, which shows the application of TI's thermal printhead to the calculator, resides today at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Electronic handheld calculator invented

During the early 1960s, Pat Haggerty discussed the possibility of a handheld calculator with Jack Kilby on a business trip. There were other priorities, but in 1964, Dean Toombs, head of semiconductor R&D, formed a team consisting of Kilby, Jim Van Tassel, and Jerry Merryman to develop a calculator small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, yet powerful enough to perform basic math functions.

By December 1966, the team had a working model, and, within a year, Kilby, Van Tassel, and Merryman filed a patent application, which would be issued eight years later. The functional heart of the first miniature calculator was circuitry able to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It had a small keyboard with 18 keys and a visual output that displayed up to 12 decimal digits.

Calculator laboratory
First calculator
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