Forwarding Address: OS X

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The untold story of Graphing Calculator

I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of Mac users never had cause to use Graphing Calculator, a hyper-extended calculator that used to ship with Mac OS that created graphical visualizations of your equations. Nonetheless there it was and its legacy lives on in the current Calculator application forever more.

Ron Avitzur tells the story of the clandestine birth of Graphing Calculator in "The Graphing Calculator Story":

We finished in January 1994. Graphing Calculator has been part of the Macintosh ever since. Teachers around the world use it as an animated blackboard to illustrate abstract concepts visually. It shipped on more than twenty million machines. It never officially existed.
Incidentally, if you haven't recently dug into the current Calculator app, you should. In addition to having a myriad number of math functions I don't know how to use it also does crazy stuff like currency conversion. It's beautiful.


  • That's an awesome story. It's a pity the current OS X Calculator is so cruddy. Seriously, what's with the "don't display a zero after a decimal point until you press another number as well" thing? Nonsensical.

    By Brian W, at 10:29 AM  

  • I happen to think that the current calculator is pretty cool - an impressive wealth of power in a very nicely implemented UI. It does have some minor issues but not enough that I'd call it "cruddy".

    Though admittedly I am partial to using calc from the command line instead :)

    By Chris, at 3:46 PM  

  • The calculator included with Mac OS X has nothing to do with the calculator in the story. Graphing Calculator became a commercial product before Mac OS X even shipped, though Apple could continue to ship the earlier version on Mac OS 7, 8 and 9. It's only just now been converted to Mac OS X, and is only available as a commercial product on X.

    Just a nit on lineage. Both are very cool, though Graphing Calculator is, IMHO, a lot cooler and has a lot of hidden features.

    By Anonymous, at 7:18 AM  

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