In the beginning, Texas Instruments found a solid formula to produce a graphing calculator.

The TI-81, the first of Texas Instrument’s graphing calculators, was released in 1990, and had a 2MHz version of the widely popular Zilog Z80 microprocessor with just 2.4 kB of RAM. These calculators could solve trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic functions, etc., numerically, and produce graphs plus perform many Linear Algebra matrix manipulations.

Since then, we have seen many iterations of this calculator, the TI-80 family and the TI-73 series, most of which feature "Plus (+)" versions. But most of these calculators did not change the original 96X64-pixel screen or any of the original functions or features, just added user memory, RAM, and faster Zilog Z80 processors.

The TI-84+ C SE calculator – it's going to happen, but will it be a radical departure from the past? (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TI-84_Plus_series)

Although the numbering system is a bit misleading, the TI-80 was released in 1995 as a calculator meant for middle schoolers, and used a slow 980kHz, TI-manufactured processor but included 7kB of RAM. These calculators began some of the features like decimal to fraction conversion and displayed tables, which were used by later versions of the TI-80 family (the ones for grown-ups... yeah, a bit confusing).

The TI-89 series, introduced in 1998, began to tailor to the needs of higher-level math, as it solved algebraic equations in terms of variables and performed implicit calculus functions. These models use 10MHz, 12MHz, and 16MHz versions of the venerable Motorola 68000, 32-bit processor, and 256kB of RAM. Aside from the wide format TI-92/II/Plus models, the calculator kept its shape with a slight bump in the monochromatic screen resolution.

The newest releases include the TI-Nspire series, which features more computer compatibility, touch pads, more memory, and faster Hitachi ARM processors. Some of the more expensive Nspire calculators like the CX and the CX CAS offer color screens with resolutions of 320 pixels x 240 pixels. These calculators have completely changed layouts, compared to earlier series, as they were based on Windows CE in order to mimic computer operating systems. With these changes, TI created a whole new family of calculators.

However, the CX did not have the ability to manipulate algebraic equations or perform implicit differentiation or integration. On the plus side, users could upload common file-type pictures, which is not a fair trade-off. Due to their higher level mathematical capabilities and their ability to store files like pictures, the TI-Nspire calculators are not allowed on most standardized tests or for many university exams either (the TI-89 is also not allowed).

In recent years, Texas Instruments' calculators have been shoved deep down our throats by the education system. Universities, high school teachers, professors, and standardized testing companies allow only certain calculators from the TI-80 family for test taking, which is why they continue to sell.

Though few people argue their durability, the prices reflect their high and constant demand and prices remain considerably high, at around $80 to $150 for newer models. In the 22 years of existence, TI calculators have revolutionized the world of education and engineering, but they're becoming dated in the smartphone world of constant new apps/functions.

I once found a TI calculator in a drawer in a lecture hall at the university where I work. It was a graphing calculator and it looked like someone had used a magnifying glass and burnt dimples in the display. This thing had been in the lecture hall for sometime collecting dust so I had no problem taking it. There were enough dimples to make seeing the display unpleasant. I tried to fix it...right. I got to the display and started peeling up the plastic on the surface. That was when I started understanding how the display is assembled. The plastic polarizer had the dimples. When that got removed, the info on the display could not be seen anymore. Then I got an idea. I use polarized sunglasses, so I put them on. Vola! I could read the display but without the glasses the display was blank. It also meant the the calculator had to be orientated right in order to see the display. Because I was going to school at the same time, this gave me some ideas which I never acted upon. After all, it was a TI calculator not an HP. I use an HP.

RBedell, I agree. The calculator still has a place in today's smartphone, tablet society. I use "Real Calculator" on my DroidX and Internet Tablet but the TI89+ graphics calculator has a really cool interface for Arduino controls projects. I also agree the embedded menus to obtain math functions on the TI89+ kind off discourages you to use it because of the added access time. But like most engineers, I'll never give it up because it represents an era of learning engineering, mathematics, and solutions in the palm of your hand.

In my college days I had a Casio calculator. You enterred equations in a format that was very much like the BASIC language. The really slick feature was the Back Arrow key that would bring up the last equation enterred so you could edit it and hit exe for the next answer.

Encouraged you to learn how to manipulate your equation so the variable that needed to be changed was at the end so it was easy to backspace a couple times, change the number and get teh next answer to fill in the table.

Plar to rectangular and rectangular to polar were a snap.

Unfortuantely, because of tight household budget, my wife used it when shopping and thedisplay didn't survive her purse. Have aleays wanted one like it but have never found another...

I agree with the HP RPN being superior, and I still use my (1987!) HP-42S. I don't quite know why, but it is significantly faster than my HP48G. Programming isn't too much of a problem on either device. Long live the SQUID! (Obscure HP-41 hacker ref)

But what do you do when the schools REQURE a Ti product? Must be a sweet deal for Ti.

Slide rules! ... being a bit of a smart xxx in high school. Teachers would give a test and say 'no calculators'. So I learned to use a slide rule. Then one day in class, a test, no calculators. "Teacher, can I use a slide rule?" "No" "But its not a calculator." "You don't know how to use one." "Yes, I do. I learned to use it." ... "No!" grrrr.

Another time/different class, after getting the TI-58 programmable, on a trig test I could not remember the equations to solve a problem. I could use the calculator and the program library that came with it, to get the answer but we had to show our work. What to do? Ahhh! De-complied the triangle library routines and extracted the equations. Then showed my work. Got the test back. The problem was red X-ed. I didn't solve the problem the way it was taught in class therefore it was wrong. So much for creativity. :D

In high school, I had saved up money to buy a TI-58 calculator. I was so excited. I even wrote a program that would calculate 2^x to the last digit (x limited to the avaliable memory to store the answer). It took hours to calculate 2^1000.

Later in college I bought a TI-80 something. Took it back for a refund. The advanced functions where buried in menus. Ended up with an HP-48 and took awhile to get used to the RPN. While I never learned to program it, I did like it.

So what do I used now? On Widnows I run the HP-48 emulator. On my Galaxy S3, Droid48, another HP-48 emulator. I still use the 'real' 48 when at home. But I would not throw the calculator out with the 'old concept'. The stand-alone calculator will have a place for a long time. It represents a common reference for teaching and everyday use.

But before the smartphone, engineers traded the calculator for computers. Computers can do far more than a calculator and do it faster. Yet, calculators still survived. The smartphone is nothing more than another computer with perks. Calculators reside in that zone between teaching the math and applying that math to real world problems.

I'm thinking a iPhone app can blow all of these away for a few bucks, if not free. Granted, it's nice to have dedicated buttons with tactile feedback, but students these days?

Had to laugh too at the 'high' price. I'm a geezer, and we had students spending up to $150 on a good slide rule in the day. My first gee-whiz calculator which could do only most the things a slide rule could do, was (if memory serves) an HP-35 which was north of $300 in 1970 dollars, and working engineers immediately 'had to have one'! That thing was still running fine when it became too much a dinosaur for even a cheapskate like me.

wow! Ti calculators are just now going color? I had one of those graphing marvels for a few semesters and even replaced the stolen Ti-89 with a the Voyage 200. Of course you can't use it on an exam of any kind. So I bought a $20 scientific calculator and was able to everything with it. Personally, I think it is silly these schools put that on the requirement list.

The price is going in the wrong direction because TI has no competition. The article states in the second-to-last paragraph on the first page why the price has not gone down in 20 years. Instituitions specify TI calculators exclusively.

It's a VERY steep price for a single-function device. I disagree strongly that adding color is the right step for consumers.

Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?

In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.

NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.

Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing engineering fields; from medical devices and pharmaceuticals to more cutting-edge areas like tissue, genetic, and neural engineering, US biomedical engineers (BMEs) boast salaries nearly double the annual mean wage and have faster than average job growth.

Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.

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