Texas Instruments wildly successful, wildly overpriced calculator


Has anyone considered switching to a scientific-calculator-backed currency? The same models continue to be ridiculous expensive, unaffected by market fluctuations, technological progress, or the inexorable march of time.


Pretty much this. My kid’s HS specified this model calculator along with one or two other choices.

Another thing to consider is that they disallow a lot of more powerful devices because you could easily cheat using something more “modern” in terms of capability. The standardized tests are the same way. You could easily cheat with an iPad/iPhone/GNote.


Yeah, TI must have hooks in the education infrastructure somehow. HP makes a much more solid calculator and they’re RPN on top of that.


Surely by now someone has cooked up a reasonable simulacrum of the calculator in question, available at a fraction of the price, that can run on the typical Android or other mobile device?

If the calculator is still required for exams, then schools can keep a batch of them on hand for distribution at exam time – as noted, they are apparently durable devices, and the school can also ensure they are not tampered with.


According to teh webz, it was an LED stick. Appeared to be red, but that was just the display cover’s color.


I just graduated, and in my classes at three different colleges we were told that we had to use a TI because the college had a deal with the company, and it was the only way to prevent cheating. I guess they didn’t realize that some students created “programs” which were nothing more than notes inside of them. Cheating was so rampant that it was disgusting.

The stupid thing is I have a graphing calculator app on my phone. It literally does everything my TI did. And when I had to take finance, the TI was NOT the calculator for the job. Present and future values are faster, and easier done on a specialized finance calculator. (I own one of those, and have an app that does it better.)

I went from being a TI fanboy who programmed small games into my phone, to hating the thing because I felt it was an overpriced crap device that hadn’t updated over the years.


I was more driving at the fact that I question whether the device actually needs updating, and if so with what features? as stated earlier, i’m not questioning that the price should have come down long ago.


Actually there are free emulators of the TI-84 and many other calculators on Android – but like most emulators you need to get the ROM of the relevant calculator. The ROMS aren’t too hard to find, but not particularly legal to distribute.


a while back i gave my 11-year old daughter my old HP11C. figured i was doing her a favor.

fast forward 2 years and i find that the TI-84 is part of the common core curriculum for middle school!! she’s pretty much doomed, the textbooks assume you have one of these calculators and some part of the course is dedicated to learning how to use the calculator.

someday i’m going to get that 16C :smile:


Is there anything particular in the ROM that has proven impossible to duplicate? Presumably during the typical exam you wouldn’t need to run any particularly sophisticated software that would expressly require whatever precise algorithms might be therein. Even if some reverse engineering is required, I thought it was determined in ye olde Sony vs Bleem court case (involving a Playstation emulator) that such reverse engineering isn’t necessarily illegal.

To be clear, I very much doubt I’m the first person to have pondered such things, which makes me wonder what exactly stopped people in the past.


A bunch of people in industry still use them because they haven’t found the time, money, or will to have their day-to-day calculator apps ported to Android or iOS. I know the oil industry still uses HP48s to input the morning drilling numbers and calculate statistics for the day and then wirelessly print them to the infrared printer HP sells.


If you do a lot of reasonably simple calculations I suspect a real calculator is still a nice thing to have mainly because real buttons are quicker.

They are also rugged, readable in direct sunlight, and the batteries last vastly longer.

My HP32sii has been sitting in a drawer for a few years though.


Well, I doubt it would be all that hard to write a graphical calculator app from scratch (and there are also some of those available). But the point of using the ROM is to make your virtual calculator work identically to the real thing.


While I haven’t used one in many many years, I’d say nothing (or very limited) things in terms of the physical need to be changed. But from a tech standpoint everything could be upgraded. A faster processor, or at least a die shrink for better power management, better screens, more integration, or anything that could make the battery last longer. It’s like an early generation Android phone vs. the new top of the line. They both run the same OS (or similar), but one does it much much better.


I wish my college professors had limited the use of the TI-89 in my engineering classes… It was funny when a professor would make problems that had elementary level math but required actual understanding to solve, to bad most professors didn’t care that much.


There are great sci-calculator apps, but smart devices aren’t allowed into standardized tests or for most math class tests whereas these are. crazy, but true.

Yep. Pretty much this.


That calculator definitely isn’t from the mid-70s. The STAT was introduced in 1988.

Here’s what they looked like in 1979:


Obligatory "these kids today have it soft… " post. I think it’s been said, but part of the success is due to high school math/physics/chemistry classes requiring graphing calculators. I don’t have a problem with calculators per se, but feel the math should be worked out on paper for most school classes so that A) you understand what’s involved in the calculation, and B) you may have a chance to detect when the calculator software has a bug - remember Intel’s floating point issue? Calculators are not immune to such things.


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.