Texas Instruments wildly successful, wildly overpriced calculator



Huffing Boing Boing

I still have my Casio from ~20 years ago somewhere...

IIRC, people in the UK looked down on the people with the TI calculators. Casio was where it was at.

Edit: wrong calculator. Knew that one looked too nice. This was mine.


I imagine most of the purchases of the TI-84 are by the families of students who are required to buy them for high school and college math classes. Since every year another crop of students needs to buy one each, and since there's no real competition that is easily accessible to the average consumer, TI can charge whatever they want and make a quiet killing.


Back in the Day, before it was mandatory you use the substandard calculator, it was a great thing because those of us with HPs could just run rings around the TI guys. A very nice advantage in any science or math related class which was calibrated for them.

Okay, now the slide rule guys can chime in...


I'm still using the TI-84 I bought in 1993, so it has basically coast me 50 cents a month since I bought it. Not that bad of a deal, though this does indicate some failure of the market.

Graphing calculators shouldn't be too powerful for HS kids anyway -- you don't want them to replace all their analytical practice.


hasn't been updated much for a decade

what should it have been updated with that wouldn't shit it up? seriously, I'm not arguing that it's overpriced, but what needs changed?


The TI-84 is not all that different from the TI-81 I had in 1992...so not all that updated in 22 years.


Isn't it overpriced because its a shrinking market?

Isn't it under-powered so the that students can't use it to look up or store answers on the device?


HP 48SX 4 lyfe.


I remember writing a program on mine that looked very much like the "erase memory" one we had to run before taking them into exams. :wink:

At university, they were totally banned from exams and they issued us all with a basic calculator which was the only one allowed.


New fangled...I remember my old TI 30...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TI-30
With that fake denim belt pouch.


Exactly. It used to be that you could tell the true nerds because they had the RPN-based HP calculators. Now you hardly see these calcs at all. I've just checked and they still technically are being sold, but it looks like they are hardly bothering with marketing them at all these days.


The price.

True story- I was once preparing for the Praxis test in NJ so that I could pursue a math teaching career. The Praxis math test is basically Calculus 1st and 2nd semester, but with one real twist.

It's all multiple-choice, but the answers tend to skew towards rational numbers with three or four trailing digits (aka 37.1253) instead of simple integer answers. So you can't pass the test by just knowing calculus theory- you've got to be able to use your calculator.

There are 50 questions, with a 2-hour time limit. You've got just over 2 minutes a question. So you've got to know how to use the calculator fast.

When I took the test, I was out of college for a decade, and had never used a TI calculator before (and that's all you were allowed to use). I took the time to use the calculator, reviewing the entire manual and working through a set of problems so that I'd be able to use the calculator quickly during the exam.

When I got to the exam, there were multiple test-takers taking the calculator out of the packaging for the first time.

I finished the exam quickly (and finished with a score in the top 1%). As I left the classroom, it was obvious some of the participants were not going to pass the test because of their struggles with the calculator. They may have had immense potential as math teachers, but since they didn't know that brand of calculator, they were doomed to either retake the test (and it wasn't cheap) or pursue another line of work.

And THAT'S how deep TI has its hooks into the math education business.

(PS- I didn't become a math teacher- I took up IT consulting instead, but it had nothing to do with the calculator.)


The only TI calculator I ever had:

It was a toy.


Amazingly, don't mind this. I can pass my now ancient but still completely functional TI-85 on to my son and he won't be at all left behind once he gets to the kind of math where calculators are allowed.

It is completely ridiculous that TI still charges almost $100 for the device though. How in the world has some Chinese cloner not come and released nearly identical calculators for $10 each (and still a healthy profit margin!) is a big mystery to me.


I stole one from my parents as a little kid and LOVED it, a real pocket computer of my own, had to keep stealing 9v batteries.
What did the display use? Just had a discussion about this calculator.
Nixie would take too much power, I suspect incandescent filament remembering that they appeared to be housed in glass bulbs when taken apart and were too fine to be LED.

As for the TI calculators, I still have mine from college, also 1993ish, got the USB cable for it later but am now using an emulator on my phone. Still it is nice to have hardware buttons(go N900!!) especially when doing real world calculations like celestial navigation at sea, or just doing financial calculations.


They somehow convinced educators to adopt this as the required model. I have friend's kids in high school who's asking how to get their hands on one cheap, and they are like $100 (more if you want the fancier versions).


Yeah, a friend got one in High School and we programed all the physics and chemistry information into it. worked like a charm until he got caught.


The TI-84 was required in my kids' middle school as well.

I've had to use more sophisticated and special-use calculators at various times in my work life, but at home I still have and use my trusty TI 30 STAT from the mid-70's.


Hah, I had the 30 STAT as well, until it was stolen from my locker at school. I remember how they somehow managed to make a basic calculator underpowered. It could take upwards of 5-10 seconds to calculate something like 3^70.