Steven Colyer had a blog the other day about calculators of his youth. Like me, I think, he grew up with slide rules and hand held calculators were amazing.... and large... and very expensive. He reminded me of a magazine article I had seen, but now can't find, but in searching for it I came across some interesting reminders of how far we have come..
This first is from Popular Science, June 1971, ...just in time for back to school buying.. keep in mind that the conversion would be about $5 in 2011 for every $1 in 1970.
Then there is this picture from the same magazine only four years later..(Feb 1975) The $29 four-function calculators mostly did not have a decimal point.
From the same issue I found this quote reminding us that early calculators were even more damaging to student learning because they didn't use the standard algebraic order of operations; "And it is undeniable that the practice among the £30 to £70 scientific calculators has been to adopt algebraic logic universally — possibly because many potential customers for these machines have graduated from basic four-function ."
It took a while, but eventually there was a graphing calculator. This add is from the New Scientist in September 1987, The prices were as low as 40 GB Pounds, (about $60 then, I think)