A relatively small number of very large contractors have the estimating function fully computerized. At the other end of the spectrum many small concrete contractors still cost a job by calculating the estimated number of yards of concrete required and then multiplying that figure by some price per cubic yard. In between these two extremes are many contractors who recognize the importance of good cost estimating and work long and hard to correctly calculate the costs for each job. A growing number of these careful estimators are discovering that a new type of office machine, the programmable calculator, is capable of greatly speeding the laborious task of estimating while at the same time improving the estimator's accuracy. Programmable calculators have been likened to computers because they have the ability to remember numbers and perform complex calculations . But there are several important differences: (a) the programmable calculator is much less expensive than even the smallest business computer; (b) it sits on the estimator's desk available to him at all times; and ( c) in most cases the estimators themselves program the machine to perform the functions they want without having to learn any sort of computer language. The job of setting up a program to run these automatic calculations consists largely of doing what an estimator has to do anyway in preparing for manual calculations. Information on materials costs, labor rates, crew sizes and productivity for the given operation, sales taxes, fringe benefits, overhead and desired profit are introduced into the memory of the calculator along with the formulas for the basic computations. Once the formulas and unit prices are established, the costing of column footings or any other phase of a job becomes virtually automatic.