Texas Instruments wildly successful, wildly overpriced calculator

Still have mine (Ti-30) from 1977. Best part was LED display, and a 9 volt battery. Started high school with a slide rule, because “not everyone could afford a calculator” so they were banned. Remember how it would take a second or two to figure a tough problem?

Considering how many have been manufactured over the decades and how many are still around in working condition I wouldn’t even consider buying one brand new. We got my son’s TI graphing calculator at a thrift shop for fifty cents or a buck when he needed one for school and years later it’s still going strong.

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I still use my old TI-60 daily:

The program memory died years ago, but the rest still works. I super-glued it shut in sometime in the mid 80s to stop my school friends from flipping the display. I never expected I’d still be using it all these years later. I looked into replacing it a few years ago, but really couldn’t find a decent non-graphical scientific calculator. Suggestions anyone?

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I’ve still got my TI-83 plus sitting around in my closet, and I’m pretty sure it’s now old enough to vote. A new one on Amazon runs $88…
I love the listed features you get for that money:

  • LCD screen features 64 x 96 pixel resolution for clear, readable display
  • Built-in memory for storage and analysis of up to 10 matrices

Well that’s interesting…now that you mention it, the image you showed looks like what I remember using a few years before 1979 – maybe I used the previous iteration – but the calculator in my home is definitely the one I showed. This is bizarre because I had no need to purchase a personal calculator in the 80’s or 90’s. So, how did I get the TI 30 STAT? I honestly have no answer for why I have this particular calculator. Major senior moment: which means I’m feeling quite senile at the moment, thankyouverymuch!

My lab partner in college had a brand new HP-45. He got annoyed that everyone wanted to borrow it for homework, so he took it apart and swapped the SIN and COS chicklets. He told a few close friends, but everyone else never figured out why they kept getting wrong answers.

Those HPs were built like bricks. My lab partner once accidentally ran over his calculator with his car and it still worked.

I had (and still have) a TI-50. Not quite as good, but about half the price of the HP ($150 versus $300 or so). One day I should get some new NiCad cells and rebuild the battery pack.

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This. HP calculators are infinitely superior in every way, especially vis-a-vis RPN, but there are a lot of tests that won’t let you use them because they’re too powerful. (they are still woefully underpowered compared to your phone, but far better for the kinds of tasks you use a calculator for. )

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At school, we mostly used ours to play Tetris and Dope Farmer…

It is for life – even the minor differences with the slightly newer 48 GX threw me off…


@bcsizemo: This. If your test is well constructed, it won’t matter what calculator your students have. But this requires actually understanding the math (many high school and lower grade teachers don’t) and understanding how your students are likely to think (predicting likely mistakes and actually caring.

In the early 2000s at least I was allowed to use any graphing calculator I wanted (middle school through AP classes) with certain restrictions (no QWERTY keyboards was one). But if it wasn’t a T-83, you were on your own in figuring out how to use it. I used a TI-89 because it could do a few extra things I found useful, like symbolic equation solving.

For starters, screen resolution. The pixels on those things are huge and it makes it kind of hard to tell what is going on when a function has a small first derivative. Also, a graphing software that understands discontinuities better. If you graph things like 1/(x-a), you often get a vertical line at x=a when there should be nothing.

On the other hand, all those imperfections do make it easier to tell when a student is just copying things from their calculator without trying to think.

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Yep. The big upgrade was the Ti-85. I got mine in 1992. I still use it almost every day. That and the Ti 86 are MUCH better for those of us that do actual science with the things. Having the conversions being easily accessible, and NOT having to push SHIFT to get the E. Still highly practical tools.

When the class is at the algebra/calc 1 level, learning how to solve symbolic equations is part of the point of the class. It really isn’t possible to both test that ability and to allow a full computer algebra system.

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Nice calculator - I have similar (possibly earlier) one gathering dust at home. From my kids I think Casio still has the UK market - it seems pretty much every kid uses the Casio FX-83 or FX-85.

Well, for starters, how about the ability to convert between decimal, hexadecimal, and binary?

Grumpy old man comment: My TI-36 SOLAR can. Octal too, but I’m not quite that old.

Oh, the 7700 power graphic. Fond memories there - I still have mine somewhere too. It’s just too definitive a part of my late teen years to give up easily. Casio definitely had the UK market, not least due to producing better stuff. The 7700 was awesome for its time.

Definitely the first calculator on which I ever wrote a Mandelbrot set generator during an exceptionally dull physics lesson.

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TI seem to be more of a US thing, the UK was all about Casio.
I used various Casio FX calculators over the years, no graphing, but the later models could take a quite long formula, and allow you to go back and edit it. My favourite had a whole bunch of different scientific constants stored, which I had to guess as I’d lost the sheet which told me which was stored in which memory.
I still have one next to my computer at home for quick maths problems, it’s just that bit quicker than opening calc.exe, and I have the advantage of muscle memory for most things.
I’m still pleased that over the course of my physics degree I used pretty much every button on that thing, which would have pleased fourteen year old me getting that calculator for the first time and not even understanding any of the buttons in the top half (ie everything from SIN, COS, TAN and upwards).
I’m going to go find which drawer my old one is living in and get it a new battery I think.

Here in India, we tend to use logarithm tables for calculations until the end of high school and then switch to these dumb )(ie, not programmable) calculators from Casio: http://image3.mouthshut.com/images/ImagesR/Temp/925044803-8299680-2_s.jpg

The idea is that you should show your work - every step of the calculation that you don’t show can lose you marks…

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My dad’s first electronic calculator was a TI Datamath – IT had to be a I, not a II since it had that function switch:


I loved that thing. I still miss the keyclicks.

I had a whole book of “Calculator games” which was so much fun! And of course, one [not me, of course, but classmates!] could spell out 80085 which was hiLARious.

The calculator is long gone (it died, at some point), but I do have both of my dad’s slide rules. Not very good at using them.

Too bad he didn’t have a Curta!


Further persual of the site leads to a number of specialty calculators (including those for metric/imperial conversions, biorythms and astrology thingummybobs), as well as one sure to make any highschool boy titter: