Apple app staple PCalc celebrates 25 years since scientific calculator debuted on Mac Syst...

in General Discussion
This month marks the 25th anniversary of PCalc, an award winning scientific calculator that debuted on the Mac back in 1992. Since then, it has expanded to virtually all of Apple's platforms, including iOS, watchOS, and even tvOS.

PCalc developer James Thomson commemorated the silver anniversary by reprinting the email he sent to the Info-Mac archive moderators to announce his new application. A few days later, FTP mirror sites began hosting the free app, before the web as we know it today existed.

"PCalc was my first ever application, Thomson wrote. "I started writing in the summer of 1992 and it took me around six months to get it into a state where I was happy to show it to the world. Some of that code still runs today, deep at the heart of the machine."

The original PCalc ran on Apple's System 7 operating system, code named "Big Bang," which was released for Macintosh in May of 1991. PCalc's anniversary was spotlighted on Wednesday by Jim Dalyrmple of The Loop.

Short for "Programmers' Calculator," the application has always had the number 42 on its icon, in reference to Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series. Adams himself was even a beta tester of the app, which also included a "Hitchhiker's" easter egg.

As Apple as a company changed, so too has PCalc. Many who use it on iPhone today may -- either in the form of PCalc for $9.99 or the free PCalc Lite may not realize its legacy.

In addition to the iPhone, PCalc is also available for Apple Watch, and even on the Apple TV.

It's also worth noting, as 2017 draws to a close, that this year was also the 20th anniversary of AppleInsider's debut online. This publication began serving up Apple news and rumors in 1997, making both it and PCalc stalwarts from a much different time in Apple's history, evolving over time along with the company itself.

And, of course, 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone, reshaping not only Apple as a company, but also the entire world personal computing.


  • Reply 1 of 8
    Thanks for the memories. Downloading now 😎
  • Reply 2 of 8
    Kudo's, despite heavy competition from Apple during 20 years (1+2+3 =20)
    edited December 2017 xzulamboaudi4
  • Reply 3 of 8
    It was on sale for $0.99 from December 22-26.
  • Reply 4 of 8
    78Bandit said:
    It was on sale for $0.99 from December 22-26.
    I'd buy that for a dollar. I did. It was worth one buck just to hear the tale of continuous development since the early MacOS days.

    Too bad AI didn't get this story up while the discount was still available. 
  • Reply 5 of 8
    It is time to reinvent calculator
  • Reply 6 of 8
    Best calculator for engineers. I have used it on my Mac and iPhones for decades, My favorite features are its large library of constants, doing unit conversions, hex calculations,  ability to move buttons to my need, and RPN support.

  • Reply 7 of 8
    Happy anniversary to all!   Apple has been a fun, but sometimes bumpy ride.   My first Apple II was purchased in 1978...

    If it hadn't been for a very dedicated press and fan base (ah the MacWorld and local computer club events!) I don't think Apple would be number one today.  

  • Reply 8 of 8
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,727member
    Time flies.  This month marks the 40th Anniversary I  opened an Apple Dealership in the north of England.  Seems like yesterday, as they say!
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