As I approach my 21st birthday (base 30), I must salute the longevity of the pencil. Pencils older than I am function perfectly while word processors from 30 years ago are just about useless. The pencil is also very portable, inexpensive, requires no power, and is easily maintained (lacking an electric sharpener, you can use a knife or a piece of stone to sharpen it). Most importantly, it is forward and backward compatible. It is great for capturing information for subsequent retrieval; I will admit that it is not very good at automated mathematical calculations.
@Matt Tuley: An excellent writer on the history of design and engineering is Henry Petroski...
I just checked this on Amazon (here's the link to the paperback version) -- the reviews are interesting in their own right -- this looks like a book I would love to read -- I've added it to my Amazon wish list. Thanks for sharing.
I make no promises about the Math Input panel. You will notice that it didn't see your multiply sign as that, but as the letter x. I have only played a little with it, but I find that whilst it doesn't have a problem with an integral sign or a sigma (for sum) when you add limits to either, it confuses it entirely. I presume that once one knows the secret it becomes easier. Sigh.
Well lok here, there is a Math Input Panle in Windows 7. Could be useful. It had a hard time interpreting my number 9 because I usually write with a straight line down. The iOS is better but then I'd have to save a screen show and e-mail to myself to get the image. Al, this is just a sriting app as where the iOS app is also a calculator.