Mathematics is one of the fundamental human processes around which all of modern society is built. Without mathematics, none of the spectacular technological achievements of our world would have been possible. However, mathematics is notoriously difficult; there are many problems that simply cannot be solved without the use of some kind of mathematical computer. This is the calculator, and it opens up the world of complex mathematics to everyone.

This guide will look at the features and functions of calculators, as well as important consumer considerations relevant to the purchasing of one. This guide will also explain why eBay is such a great means of buying a calculator online.

## What is a Calculator?

This section of the guide will provide the crucial, basic information about calculators that anyone seeking to use or buy one ought to know.

### What are Calculators For?

Put simply, a calculator is an electronic device designed to solve mathematical problems which would be either impractical or impossible to work out manually. The advent of the calculator has greatly improved the efficiency of many professional roles, such as receptionists, accountants, and record keepers. Calculators also make personal book keeping a great deal easier, as well as vastly improving the learning potential of mathematics lessons. Calculators have, for this reason, become an almost indispensable part of modern life.

### History

External calculation devices are nothing new; many historians will cite the abacus, an ancient wooden construction dating back from about 2000BC, as the first example of a calculator. However, it was the advent of electronics, and thus computing, that propelled the capabilities of calculators into modern times. Nowadays, calculators are far more capable and efficient at performing complex sums than human beings are.

### How do they Work?

Calculators, despite being comparatively simple by computing standards, are still incredibly advanced machines. From the perspective of the person operating the calculator, however, there are but a few simple things to understand to get the calculator working. The first is the power source; a calculator must have power to work. This is normally a battery, although solar powered calculators are also available. Other than that, a basic understanding of mathematics is required, as the mathematical problem must be phrased correctly if the calculator is to work.

## Types of Calculator

There are numerous types of calculator. The most common are listed below:

• Scientificscientific calculators are incredibly complex. They feature a large variety of sometimes confusing buttons which perform many high-level mathematical functions. Usually, these are used for scientific calculations, and often in classrooms to teach complex ideas.
• Pocketpocket calculators are much smaller and simpler than scientific versions. They cannot perform as many difficult and complex calculations, but are lighter, cheaper, and generally more practical solutions for those who only need a more basic functionality.
• Programmable – the main difference between computers and calculators is that computers can be programmed, whereas calculators cannot. Programmable calculators, however, can be programmed. They are large, bulky and expensive, but allow customisation for those with the technical expertise.

## Factors to Consider when Buying a Calculator

This section of the guide will examine the most important factors for a potential buyer to consider when buying a calculator online. Four main factors have been identified in this guide:

• Functionality
• Brand
• Condition
• Price

### Functionality

The first thing to consider when buying a calculator is the kind of sums that it will be required to do. If, for instance, the calculator is only needed to perform basic addition and subtraction, a small, low-powered pocket calculator will do. However, for more complex algebraic equations, a scientific calculator may be required.

### Brand

There are many well known manufacturers of calculators. Buying from one of these renowned brands may well increase the longevity, functionality, aesthetic value, and performance of the item. However, it may also result in a higher price; this is a balance that the buyer must judge for themselves.

### Condition

The popular auctioning website eBay offers a large selection of both new and used products. Whilst on the one hand new products are expected to last longer, be fully operable and have no wear and tear, they are also expected to be considerably more expensive. The converse is true of used items; quality is sacrificed for price. Again, the buyer must evaluate their own financial situation, and balance cost against the need for a new product.

### Price

As when purchasing any product from any retailer, the price of the item in question ought to be carefully considered. Generally speaking, the higher the quality of an item (or the more functions it performs), the higher its cost will be. This ties into all of the above factors; new calculators, with many functions, from a well known brand, will be expensive, whereas used calculators, with limited functionality, from an unknown brand, will naturally cost less.

## How to Buy a Calculator on eBay

When seeking to purchase a calculator online, there is no better place to do so than eBay. It features an enormous array of products, as well as sporting an intuitive and easy to use interface. This section of the guide will explain how to use eBay to buy a calculator.

• Navigating around the website is an exceedingly simple matter. A good first step is to travel to the eBay homepage. This page contains a list of links to the broadest product categories. This list can be found in the page’s left hand margin. First, click the link entitled Electronics, followed by the link to the Calculators sub-category. The page should now display only calculators in a list; this body of information is known as the item listings. Each entry consists on an image and a brief description of the product.
• Once the listings consist of only calculators, further adjustments to the contents can be made. Several ‘filtering options’ are available to choose between, enabling the user to impose certain restrictions upon the listed items, based upon their requirements. These options include brand, condition, price and seller’s location. Further, the user can choose between two main formats: ‘buy it now’ allows instantaneous, on-the-spot purchase of an item, whereas ‘auction’ facilitates bidding on the item in an attempt to attain a lower price.
• Clicking on any item represented in the listings will take the user to that item’s page. This page is dedicated solely to providing information about that specific item. This information can include detailed product specifications, as well as information about the seller themselves, including user feedback and ratings, and an option to contact them directly.
• In addition to the regular product options, eBay features a large section of special offers. This Deals section is updated regularly with new and exciting bundles and cut prices, so be sure to check it for calculators.
• This combination of extremely helpful user-oriented features and an excellent range of products make eBay the ideal online destination for anyone seeking to purchase a calculator.

## Conclusion

Calculators allow everyone access to extremely complex, high-level mathematics, which would otherwise present innumerable problems to many members of our society. However, the different available models and functions can be confusing. This guide set out to inform the reader about calculators, in the hope that the information provided allows them to make the right choice when purchasing one. As well as a detailed explanation of the calculator’s functions, four main factors for consideration where highlighted:

• Functionality
• Brand
• Condition
• Price

This guide concludes the eBay is the perfect means of buying a calculator online.

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