Programmable calculators are calculators that can automatically carry out a sequence of operations under control of a stored program, much like a computer. The first programmable calculators such as the IBM CPC used punched cards or other media for program storage. Hand-held electronic calculators store programs on magnetic strips, removable read-only memory cartridges, flash memory, or in battery-backed read/write memory.
Since the early 1990s, most of these flexible handheld units belong to the class of graphing calculators. Before the mass-manufacture of inexpensive dot-matrix LCDs, however, programmable calculators usually featured a one-line numeric or alphanumeric display. The Big Four manufacturers of programmable calculators are Casio, Hewlett-Packard, Sharp, and Texas Instruments. All of the above have also made pocket computers in the past, especially Casio and Sharp.
Many calculators of this type are monochrome LCD, some are four-color (red or orange, green, blue, and black), or, in the case of some machines at the top of the line as of January 2022 color similar to monitors displaying 16 or 32-bit graphics. As they are used for graphing functions, the screens of these machines are pixel-addressable. Some have a touch screen, buzzers or other sound producers, internal clocks, modems or other connectivity devices including IrDA transceivers, several types of ports for peripherals like printers, and ports for memory cards of a number of types.
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