The 10 Best Printing Calculators

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in May of 2016. If number crunching is your game, then something from our selection of printing calculators will make it possible to keep up with all those digits with minimal effort. Available in both portable and desktop models and running on batteries and/or AC power, they are perfect for a variety of applications, including tallying bake sale receipts, calculating profit margins, or tracking time for payroll. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best printing calculator on Amazon.

10. Canon Desktop

9. Sharp EL-1901

8. Casio HR-8TM Plus

7. Canon MP11DX-2

6. Victor Prompt Logic

5. Catiga CP-1800

4. Victor 1460-4

3. Casio HR-100TM

2. Monroe UltimateX

1. Sharp Heavy Duty

Editor's Notes

May 13, 2019:

Because it's currently tough to find the Casio FR-2650TM, we decided to remove it, but we still think that the Monroe UltimateX, Sharp Heavy Duty, and Victor 1460-4 are all fine choices. The UltimateX is a strong option for professional use, with all the features accountants and payroll managers could desire, but it does have the outsized price tag to match. The latter two are not as expensive but still relatively feature-heavy, both printing at a speed of around four lines per second to save you some time. As for more budget-friendly models, we decided to add the Casio HR-100TM. Although it's quite similar to the Casio HR-170RC, it tends to be less expensive and has slightly fewer features, which makes it a good option for non-professionals who don't need all the bells and whistles. Finally, after deliberation, we have elected to add the Sharp EL-1901. It does not actually print onto paper; instead, it features a screen that displays information so you can visually keep track of your calculations. This will save you from having to buy ink and supplies, but you also won't have a physical record, which may or may not be a deal breaker.

The Evolution Of Calculation Innovation

Over the next 300 years, incremental versions of mechanical calculators came and went, but it wasn't until the industrial revolution that they gained popularity.

Math has been around for just about as long as sentient humans have. At its heart, the science relies on numbers, and those numbers can be real, like measurements of dimensions and angles, or theoretical, such as complex variables. The interactions between these numbers lead to conventions as straightforward as planning a bed of crops, or as advanced as parsing Einstein's relativity.

Human beings are incredibly smart — we wouldn't have made it this far if that wasn't the case. But while our brains excel at creative problem solving, they're usually not so well-suited to high-level computation. For as long as humans have counted, we've used tools to enhance our calculation skills. Today there are many different electronic devices that help us do math, but like any technology, the calculator comes from quite humble roots.

In the mid-20th century, archaeologists unearthed a few bones from ancient sites that were dated at about 20,000 and 40,000 years old. Called the Ishango and Lebombo bones, respectively, they each sported a unique set of notches, arranged in columns and groups along the side of the piece. At first glance, they appeared to be simple tally sticks, prehistoric record-keeping devices, and to this day some researchers insist that's all they are. Others believe that the notches' groupings are extremely significant, and indicate that these were actually very early calculators. If accurate, this would mean that the first relatively advanced mathematicians lived sometime around the year 40000 B.C.E. or earlier — or about one-fifth of the time since homo sapiens actually evolved.

There's evidence of geometric calculations and designs from several thousand years ago, and many scientists believe that heritage sites such as Stonehenge, as well as certain burial grounds and petroglyphs, utilize circular mechanics that indicate a rudimentary understanding of geometry. Beginning around the year 2000 B.C.E., the abacus saw widespread use, starting in Egypt and spreading outward. It was the next major evolution of the device that would ultimately become the modern calculator. The early 1600s C.E. saw the development of important milestones like Galileo's proportional compass, and Napier's calculating bones, from the unsung, yet historically important genius responsible for introducing logarithmic theory to the mathematical world. Over the next 300 years, incremental versions of mechanical calculators came and went, but it wasn't until the industrial revolution that they gained popularity. The development of vacuum tubes and transistors paved the way for several decades of rapid advancement, eventually leading to the modern calculator.

What's The Point Of A Printer?

The 1950s and 1960s weren't known for lightweight, portable electronic devices, and calculators followed in this tradition. Nonetheless, as soon as these bulky, desktop machines were available, they saw immediate military, business, and finance applications. Cathode-ray tubes and filament lamps evolved into LCD screens, and printed displays advanced in a number of forms. While mechanical printing calculators first came about in the late 1800s, electronic versions proved the perfect lasting companion to the burgeoning field of accounting during the massive, worldwide economic expansion of the 20th century.

Even though integrated digital displays now come standard on almost every calculator, printing varieties still offer the benefit of a permanent record, a must for any professional bookkeeper. A simple, one-line device relies on the user's perfect accuracy and decent memory to make multi-step calculations. With a printer, one look at the last few lines is all it takes to recall particular payment amounts or find input errors. Furthermore, a financier can tear away the relevant string of calculations and store it right alongside a client's file, a bundle of receipts, or a stack of credit card slips. This makes it easy for one or more workers to check their footing (and even cross-check their cross-footing), which goes a long way toward preventing potentially time-consuming and expensive mistakes.

Why They're So Special

Also called adding machines, these devices differ from standard calculators in a few important ways aside from just the printer. They perform considerably fewer functions than today's advanced scientific and graphing calculators, though they do usually have a set of memory controls as well as a variety of finance-related operations. Unlike most pocket calculators, which are small and lightweight, these are generally somewhat large and hefty and always very stable, usually with sturdy, non-slip feet. Their desktop design, coupled with traditionally ultra-responsive and clicky keys, allows skilled number-crunchers to input numbers at high speed with few errors. Also, adding machines most often have buttons dedicated to controlling the printing mechanism, as well as built-in date and timestamps. And because they're designed for financial purposes rather than scientific or educational means, their displays will always refer to values of currency. In fact, many of them feature built-in equations that keep you from making any errors during the tedious currency conversion process.

Also, adding machines most often have buttons dedicated to controlling the printing mechanism, as well as built-in date and timestamps.

The printers themselves use one of three primary methods of putting marks on paper. Many use a simple ink-roller system, while others use a system called thermal transfer that involves a roll of pigmented, heat-sensitive ribbon and special paper. Both of these come in 1- and 2-color varieties, with black and red typeface often representing positive and negative inputs, respectively. Still another type of printer mimics the typical point-of-sale receipt printer by simply applying direct heat to thermal paper. This type is considered easier to maintain, as it doesn't have ribbons or ink to replace, though the paper is prone to smudges and distortion, and may not hold up as well over time.

Savvy investors, small business owners, and corporate auditors are all likely to need a quality, reliable adding machine, as will anyone knee-deep in taxes. They're not terribly expensive, and the value of accurate, easily verified bookkeeping is hard to overstate. Their long-serving design and generally robust construction ensure that the right choice will prove to be a very worthwhile investment.

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Melissa Harr
Last updated on May 16, 2019 by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.


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