By Judith Maginnis Kuster
The History of Pocket Electronic Calculators provides fascinating information about the history of desk-top calculators which have been available for fewer than 50 years. (www.vintagecalculators.com/html/history_of_electronic_calculat.html). The first large electronic desk-top calculators -- which used thousands of transistors, cost thousands of dollars, and weighed 30-60 pounds -- were state of the art in the mid-1960's. Battery-powered calculators, which cost about $500, were introduced in 1969; hand-held calculators soon followed. Today, solar calculators as credit cards cost less than a dollar and are often used as promotional giveaways (www.garrettspecialties.com/solar-credit-card-calculator-p-190.html).
The concept of "calculators," however, is much broader than the hand-held calculator on your desk. Many interesting calculators -- some professionally useful, others personally valuable, and several just plain fun, are freely available online.
Considering an employment offer? The International Salary Calculator (http://moving.move.com/move/tools/salarycalcint.asp?poe=homestore) compares the cost of living in hundreds of cities around the world. For those considering a move closer to home, Cost of Living Comparison Calculator (www.bankrate.com/brm/movecalc.asp) compares the cost of living in several major U.S. cities, giving an estimate of the salary you would need in the new community to maintain your current standard of living.
Under "Healthcare Practitioner" on Salary Calculator (http://homestore.moving.com/Find_A_Place/Calculators/SalaryCalc/), an audiologist or a speech-language pathologist can determine if the salary being offered in several different cities in the U.S. is within appropriate parameters for that community.
Free School Reports (www.homefair.com/find_a_place/school_reports/index.asp) contains detailed information from more than 89,000 K-12 public and private schools for those considering a school position or a move for their family.
Planning to attend a conference abroad? The Universal Currency Convertor (www.xe.com/ucc/full.php) allows you to perform interactive foreign exchange rate calculations on the Internet, using up-to-the-minute currency rates. Mezzofanti Translations (www.mezzofanti.org/translation/) provides access to a variety of freely available, powerful translators and multilingual dictionaries which may help with correspondence or with translating information from the Internet in a variety of languages. A Distance Calculator (www.indo.com/cgi-bin/dist) and Timezone Calculator (http://www.onlineconversion.com/timezone.htm) are also useful when planning a trip. If you are traveling to Italy (or reading very old books), The Advanced Roman Numeral Convertor converts Roman numerals (www.onlineconversion.com/roman_numerals_advanced.htm)
Teaching or advising university majors? The Grade Point Average Calculator (www.studentmarket.com/gpacalculator.html) or Grade Point Average (www.onlineconversion.com/grade_point_average.htm) apply the standard formula used by most universities based on a 4.0 scale. The Grade Calculator (http://cims.clayton.edu/whong/tools/GradeCalculator.htm) allows a professor to enter test scores to calculate grades. The Percent Calculator (www.onlineconversion.com/percentcalc.htm) may be helpful for professors and clinicians.
Downloading freely-available materials and software for clients from the Internet? The following calculators will show download time for a variety of bandwidths by entering the file size: Download Time Calculator (www.numion.com/Calculators/Time.html) or Download Speed Calculator (www.onlineconversion.com/downloadspeed.htm).
Trying to determine the exact age of a client? The Chronological Age Calculator (http://ags.pearsonassessments.com/Calc/index2.asp) determines a client's age in years, months and days, a measure called for in determining scores for many standardized tests. Probably not as professionally useful, but still fun, the How Old Are You Calculator (www.onlineconversion.com/howold.htm) converts your age down to the second and tells you how much time until your next birthday. Last time I checked I'd been alive for 2,016,547,830 seconds.)
Interested in calculators related to speech and hearing science? Spectrum Analysis Calculator demonstrates the "relationship between waveform, amplitude spectrum and phase spectrum..." (www.parmly.luc.edu/SpectrumApp/spectrum.html). Hearing Impairment Projection Calculator calculates occupational hearing loss (www.occupationalhearingloss.com/master_calculator.htm)
Concerned about health issues? Your body mass index (BMI) is the relationship between weight and height and is associated with body fat and health risk. A BMI of over 25 is considered overweight. Check your BMI using one of the following body mass calculators
Some fun calculators include the following:
Judith Kuster is a professor in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at email@example.com. All of Kuster's Internet columns are on ASHA's Web site in HTML format with active links (www.asha.org/about/publications/leader-online/archives/news.htm), although URLs change and there is no guarantee that links from previous articles are still functional.
Kuster, JM, Online Calculators -- For Employment and Enjoyment, ASHA Leader, March 4, 2008, p. 22.