The Internet Archive calls this new collection the calculator drawer. There are 14 calculators to choose from, including the HP 48GX, TI-82, TI-83 Plus, and even the Electronic Number Muncher, a toy calculator from the 1980s. The Internet Archive not only emulates each device’s interface; it incorporates their physical design and buttons, making it feel like you have the actual device right in front of you.
The Internet Archive takes a closer look at how this all works in a post on his blog. It uses the MAME Artwork System to power its calculators – a branch of the open-source framework that recreates classic arcade games on various systems – which is how the Internet Archive managed to include actual images of the calculators in the emulations.
As noted by the Internet Archive, MAME has “two different ways it can display an emulated device that needs an ‘extra’ drawing to amplify the part of itself that reflects the device’s screen or lights.” While the MAME system can create a vector-based drawing of the buttons and screen, the MAME Artwork system replaces these drawings with an actual image.
These emulations allow you to click the buttons to enter numbers and functions, just as you would if you physically pressed a button on the calculator with your finger. While you can also use your keyboard to type in numbers, it’s a bit more limited as it doesn’t seem like you can enter functions. Some devices, such as the HP 48G+, even have sound, which is a nice touch. And if you need a refresher course on how to use these calculators, the Internet Archive has even uploaded a collection of original user manuals.
While I don’t have a personal history with any of these devices, it’s still cool to get a chance to try them out without physically touching them. I have great memories of my TI-84 Plus in high school and college that didn’t require me to learn how to factor as I just programmed it to do the equations for me.