The TI-83. Chances are if you’ve been in high school or college sometime since 1996, you’ve had at least one experience with it or one of its TI-80-something siblings. But the question is, “Why?” Why is it that in America, especially, Texas Instruments graphing calculators are so ubiquitous? And why do they still cost a hundred dollars or more in an age where apps and websites outperform them? Well, the answer lies back in 1985. The large scale calculator wars of the 1970’s were over, but the biggest players were still competing for the niche markets of science and education. It was in ’85 that Casio released the first commercially-available graphing calculator, the FX-7000G. The appeal of the graphing calculator was its capability of plotting graphs — go figure — in addition to the scientific functions of competing devices. It was also programmable, letting users create their own automated calculations and detailed graphs. In 1986, Sharp released their own version of the graphing calculator: the EL-5200, and, that same year, the scientific calculator wizards at Hewlett Packard did the same with the HP-28C. But, curiously, Texas Instruments didn’t get into the graphing calculator game until 1990, with the TI-81. And there’s a good reason for that, too. So, here’s the setup. Texas Instruments basically invented the handheld, four-function calculator in 1967 and continued to innovate throughout the ’70s, so they were well-known in the United States for being the go-to calculator company. But it wasn’t until 1986 that something changed the course of education history. The State of Connecticut submitted an order for 10,000 TI calculators, all at once. Well, that got TI to stand straight up and take notice, but more on that in a moment. Because, simultaneously, there was a growing debate over the use of calculators in the classroom, especially with the advent of graphing calculators. Those opposed to them assumed they would result in lower-quality learning, with the students simply calculating the results and ignoring key concepts. Those in favor saw graphing calculators as eliminating the need to waste time with paper and pencil computation, and instead focus on developing real, conceptual understanding. As the debate continued, the Calculator and Computer Precalculus Project, or C2PC, began at Ohio State University in 1988, designed to provide professional instruction for educators on how to integrate calculators into the classroom. C2PC proved successful in turning the tide in favor of graphing calculators in schools, expanding to other college campuses and even a yearly national conference, renaming themselves to Teachers Teaching with Technology, or T3, in 1992. And guess who the largest financial backer of the program was at that point! You guessed it! Texas Instruments. So, let’s go back to 1986 and that massive order of calculators. Well, you see, at that time, the folks in Texas decided to look into the educational market hardcore because, obviously, there was a huge demand. But, the debate over whether or not these things could even be allowed in the classroom had them waiting until the right time to even release one. The right time quickly became apparent in 1989 with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics proposing the “Curriculum of Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics.” This called for the national standardized use of classroom calculators from four-function calculators in kindergarten to graphing calculators in high school. With this set to go into effect in 1991, it was time for TI to take action. At that point, Casio’s machines were the most common graphing calculator in schools, so, Texas Instruments based their TI-81 design on the existing Casio design, while tweaking and expanding on its capabilities to set themselves apart. So, that helped ease people into these new machines, but the truly brilliant move was that they already had the influential T3 program on their side. Texas Instruments in turn used this influence to push their own products in the name of education, with T3 becoming known colloquially as “the church of TI.” They also had a highly-circulated newsletter, online news group, scholarship programs, workshops, and a hot line called “1-800-TI-CARES,” that proved hugely effective in making TI machines the most comfortable choice. They also used this influence to get their products shown in tons of school textbooks, with steps on how to solve problems exclusively showing TI calculators on the pages. This influencing of teaching standards has also ended up creating a resistance to change in the following years, because a generation of students and teachers are so used to using TI calculators at this point, that switching to something new seems downright disruptive. The result was a near-monopoly on the graphing calculator market, with many schools adding TI hardware to their supply lists, and standardized testing boards using TI calculators as one of the few sanctioned devices. Not only that, but due to the larger marketing presence, competing calculators became thought of as cheaper, inferior devices, even though they were often more capable than TI’s offerings. And, even in the current day where apps and websites can easily one-up a graphing calculator, the fact is that most schools and testing places don’t allow these during tests due to concerns of cheating and the like. So, the domination of TI continues. Of course, this is all rather simplified, but this is basically why a calculator with hardware that’s barely changed in twenty years still costs a premium, why schools require them even when it shuts out some lower income students, and why there’s just one brand that, as of 2014, controls 93% of the market. So, apparently there’s something to be said for money, influence, and marketing, and Texas Instruments is a prime example. You know the best part about these calculators was just putting games on there. I put Tetris on mine, and Snake, and all that stuff. I need to do a video on that sometime in the future. I mean, you can do it with Casios, too, but it was the TI stuff that had the most programs, which was another bonus if you were like me and liked hacking these things and whatnot. But if you enjoyed this video, then, well, thank you very much! I enjoyed you enjoying it, somehow. And there’s also more here, if you’d like to click them, as well as other videos coming around every Monday and Friday here on LGR. There’s also Twitter and Facebook and Patreon for doing social stuff and supporting the channel and seeing videos early. And, as always, thank you very much for watching!

Why Are Texas Instruments Calculators So Expensive? [LGR Tech Tales Addendum]
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100 thoughts on “Why Are Texas Instruments Calculators So Expensive? [LGR Tech Tales Addendum]

  • September 2, 2019 at 5:23 am
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    I will never give up my TI-nSpire CX CAS for two reasons: I have become way too dependent on the CAS for virtually all of my math, and I have over 20 hours racked up in Pokémon Emerald in that thing

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 6:41 am
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    This is the most American business model ever.

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  • September 2, 2019 at 8:24 pm
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    No kidding, the TI Nspire CX II CAS literally costs like 20€ more than my phone in Finland, this is terrible pricing combined with stupid Finnish tax…

    Reply
  • September 3, 2019 at 12:54 am
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    In my school, we use demos. It is free, and Easier to use

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  • September 3, 2019 at 2:38 am
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    If you need to get a TI-83/84 calculator soon, just download one of the free mobile-app emulators! (The full versions are like $5, but you should be fine with the free ones)

    And guess what? There are TI-83/84 apps for both Android & iOS! (Sadly tho, you prolly won't be able to go this route in a high-school math class, for obvious reasons lol)

    Reply
  • September 3, 2019 at 4:27 am
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    I found one on the "damaged packaging" shelf in Giant marked down to $25.

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  • September 3, 2019 at 8:34 pm
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    I remember getting a TI-84 in high school. This was about the time the iPod touch got popular at school. I ended up losing it or something and using a 3 dollar app that did the same job but far better…

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  • September 3, 2019 at 10:56 pm
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    Dude as a south african. Even after watching this video. Tf is a graphine calculator. Also as a high school graduate. I can honoustly say we only use scientific calculators because our brains haven't melted from to much fucking big Macs with a large dip and extra chips 2 no 45's a 45 large…

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  • September 3, 2019 at 11:31 pm
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    I got one today at a thrift store for 5 bucks

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  • September 4, 2019 at 3:13 am
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    I don't care what "educators" say, the use of calculators, including graphing calculators, does not improve the understanding of math concepts. That's like saying that use of a spell checker improves a students spelling ability.

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  • September 4, 2019 at 10:11 am
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    Fortunately this doesn't happen in Spain

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  • September 4, 2019 at 12:27 pm
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    My University doesn't even allow calculators -_- .. but in my community college you could use them but on TI if you had a casio you couldn't use it because it was to powerful. Honestly it's all BS. I had a nspire that could do derivatives and integrals, the teachers saw TI and said ok, what a joke

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  • September 4, 2019 at 3:38 pm
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    5:40 …wait a minute…is that how you put it?!

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  • September 5, 2019 at 1:53 am
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    So they are the apple of calculators?

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  • September 5, 2019 at 8:46 am
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    1989…..online news group?…..no internet!
    Also you didn't mention the profits that TI calculators gives Texas Instruments Corp only surmounts to around 3% of all of Texas Instruments profited income. If there is money to be made here then Texas Instruments isn't making the money for themselves. Kick backs maybe, customer service and/or advertisement probably, but Texas Instruments doesn't profit much. Their big money maker is in the semi-conductor industry. Break open any electronic device and chances are you are going to see their logo on half the chips. I think they keep the calculator business going for name recognition because most people don't break open their electronic equipment to inspect the logos!

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  • September 6, 2019 at 4:14 am
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    Silly thing is the ti-86 that was discontinued, was the only one allowed in my college electrical theory classes. The instructors had to tell us to just hit up eBay because they didn't want to actually teach, just instruct us on how to use their choice calculator.

    They did do one thing my 84+ silver didn't, but I'll be damned if I can remember as neither has been used in 10 years.

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  • September 6, 2019 at 6:04 pm
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    Well it's worth it for an incognito gameboy

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 6:06 pm
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    Time to break such monopoly.
    android entry market phones are even cheaper. TI is ripping of parents.
    And r'they should first forbid teacher to acceot any benefit from a school supplier …

    No connectiin between school and supplier no more monopoly … and if cause the same for book makers … that they stop using pics of one brand.

    It did not need a pic if a particular branded pencil to teach us how to write and calculate.
    No need of ti calculators in any school book.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 12:51 am
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    The only 2 calculators that you showed pictures of are the only graphing calculators I own! A TI-83 Plus and a TI-89 Titanium! What a coinkydink.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 2:41 pm
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    Laugh in Casio!

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 11:55 am
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    Except when you buy a Ti-85 for 17 dollars because the person on amazon forgot to add another zero!

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  • September 8, 2019 at 7:03 pm
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    TI dominated the market pretty viciously.

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  • September 8, 2019 at 11:05 pm
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    T3 and Ti is like an abusive relationship. The schools and teachers know it's horrible but they're comfortable with it.

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  • September 10, 2019 at 12:06 am
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    I used a Tandy programmable in 1980 during my college course I remember those long form pages of calculations my response to it was it faster on a calculator therefore it will win out in the end and it wastes my time doing it long hand if I want to know I can look it up the teacher was steamed at my response who cares this was a good 10yrs before 1990 in your video I still got it have to dig it out might be a colector now lol

    Reply
  • September 10, 2019 at 1:51 pm
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    Honestly, this question ranks right on up there with Why are college text books so damn expensive? It's because they know you have to have it.

    Reply
  • September 11, 2019 at 3:26 am
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    I’m in 9th grade and today I got a ti 84+ ce for 125 it’s good but too expensive the only good part is custom programs

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  • September 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm
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    Got the very first Ti81 in about 1991, when some 'scum-queen' nicked my Ti52 Galaxy at UNI. Top Tip: Never buy a totally new type of calculator days before your finals!!!!!!!!! N E V E R ! ! ! ! ! Graphing calculators are pure snake oil. Tech for tech's sake really. Plenty of slick apps do it much better these days anyway. It was always funny in physics labs at uni, when somebody asked to borrow your calculator, and then pulled so many puzzled faces as they tried to work out what to do with the Ti81. These days I mostly use calculator infinity on IOS.

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  • September 12, 2019 at 9:55 am
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    TI sucks

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  • September 13, 2019 at 8:23 am
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    Bought a TI-Nspire CX for $40 on ebay.

    Reply
  • September 13, 2019 at 1:43 pm
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    I just rented mine from Textbook Brokers for $25

    Reply
  • September 13, 2019 at 8:19 pm
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    Google.com

    Reply
  • September 13, 2019 at 10:05 pm
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    That´s one hell of a successful marketing scheme!

    Reply
  • September 14, 2019 at 1:00 pm
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    Because we are not allowed to use phones or laptops during calculus exams… They know the professors will make us buy them no matter what, so why lower the cost?

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  • September 14, 2019 at 7:08 pm
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    I would just write a Python program to do the math and produce a graph.

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  • September 15, 2019 at 2:34 am
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    I feel like there is some serious money to make selling knock off cloned ti 83's on taobao or alibaba, you could make them for probably $1 in china and sell them for $20-$30 (less than half the price) online to America… someone really should cause frankly Texas Instruments deserves it for gouging students for the last 20+ years

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  • September 15, 2019 at 3:31 pm
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    We had the Casio cfx 9850 GB plus (Germany) and it was a great machine that I use to this day – never seen an app that even comes close

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  • September 17, 2019 at 10:28 am
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    GAh I recall it all…stupid schools…

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  • September 18, 2019 at 1:09 pm
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    I was in high school from 03-06 and the tide was only just starting to shift in favor of calculator usage in schools. Most of my math teachers still didn't want us using calculators.

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  • September 19, 2019 at 7:51 am
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    This video could also be called "How to dominate a market by getting in on the ground floor".

    Reply
  • September 19, 2019 at 11:02 pm
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    you make the most boring stuff

    entertaining

    Reply
  • September 20, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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    When you totally dominate a niche market and have some of the most trustworthy people in society (teachers) backing you, you can charge virtually anything. Not that the tech that goes into TI's machines is cheap mind you, but in a monopoly, you can charge a 50% or more premium and people (and parents) will pay it, begrudgingly if they have to.

    Reply
  • September 21, 2019 at 7:33 pm
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    8008 (like if you get the joke)

    Reply
  • September 22, 2019 at 7:40 pm
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    I remember back in high school we didn't have enough of these in the classroom so I never learned how to use them or these weird math problems :/

    Reply
  • September 23, 2019 at 2:13 am
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    It’s cuz they hit different when your bored af after a test and can play games

    Reply
  • September 23, 2019 at 4:45 pm
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    U cant justify $100 for a calculator with 2d graphs when you have cellphones being able to create 3d objects for half the price.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 1:33 am
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    Casio and HP calculators have more capabilities 😉

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 4:07 am
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    I don’t know how that z80 cpu in the ti 83 plus holds up in modern day society.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 8:41 pm
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    The ability of students to cheat using smartphones is why calculators in schools will likely never go away.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 5:03 am
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    Anyone who needs one of these can get them in ANY pawnshop for CHEAP AS FUCK

    Reply
  • September 26, 2019 at 12:04 pm
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    Sherman anti trust law.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2019 at 4:31 pm
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    Just like nature abhors a vacuum, business hates competition and wherever it can it defaults to a monopoly.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2019 at 9:13 pm
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    if someone built a stealth mini pc with an emulator of a TI rom in the body of an old TI calc, they'd make a killing selling it to SAT cheaters who'd hide notes or a messaging app, or a side mounted webcam, and hidden mic bluetooth combo in it.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 1:54 am
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    Hey maths wizards. Throw up your fucking horns!

    Reply
  • September 28, 2019 at 12:23 am
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    Lol. The APH/Orion/TI84 Plus talking graphing calculator costs $600!

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  • September 30, 2019 at 8:30 am
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    Because you're forced to buy them duh

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  • September 30, 2019 at 4:38 pm
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    For $100,- you can buy a computer that can do much more.

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  • October 2, 2019 at 11:57 am
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    You may be able to find there at garage sales and thrift stores but the displays might not work anymore. My 25 year old ti86 has a bad display and I've read about many others with the same issue. Sad.

    Reply
  • October 3, 2019 at 11:01 pm
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    Why are so bad and so expensive?
    The full class of my last school year sons was advised to buy the TI 84 plus , three months later half of it were damaged at the second replacement of batteries. They produce sulfure in the inside contacts making it impossible to turn them back again. You have to repair them after 3 months…. Don´t buy that brand if you can get another one. Expensive but baaaaaaaaaaaaadddddddddddddddd……..

    Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 12:09 pm
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    How are they still expensive? With free apps like Desmos and Desmos Calc

    Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 4:26 pm
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    Even in germany we had to get thoose things….i mainly played tetris on it.

    Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 5:53 pm
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    Drug Wars was my favorite.

    Given my later history, I suppose that’s no surprise

    Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 10:27 pm
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    Some morons are recommending these calculators over casio and other brand for absolutely no reason!! I was so confused until I watched this. Immediately bought the casio fx-cg50 open box for 45$

    Reply
  • October 6, 2019 at 5:38 am
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    I found a TI-83 Plus at Goodwill for 50 cents which I guess they though was reasonable cause it didn't turn on. Left the store feeling like I robbed them and then went over to Dollar Tree and put in a fresh pack of AAA batteries and what do you know it turned on.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2019 at 3:39 pm
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    Weirdly enough, here in Brazil it's the same, but with HP calculators.

    The HP 48g (and later the 50g) reigns supreme in the engineering schools.

    Reply
  • October 7, 2019 at 12:33 am
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    At least you just buy one and done. I have my scientific TI-30xIIS since middle school and a hand me down graphing TI-84Plus and they still work perfectly, and are practically indestructible.

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  • October 7, 2019 at 1:57 pm
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    "go Figure:~" was that an intentional pun?

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  • October 7, 2019 at 11:25 pm
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    the programming community was built right into the TI website, which was awesome. Great modding community.

    Reply
  • October 8, 2019 at 6:33 am
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    3:43
    The cover illustration reminds me of the cover art of Advanced Memory Suite by FM Skyline 0_o

    (…here's the link for anyone curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14oyQ0OqnoI)

    Reply
  • October 9, 2019 at 3:43 pm
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    Thanks for the info! 🙂

    Reply
  • October 11, 2019 at 12:15 am
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    calculators are such garbage. there are early computers that can graph a line IN THEIR SLEEP.

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  • October 11, 2019 at 4:18 am
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    The new calculator from hp…

    Hot peepee

    Reply
  • October 12, 2019 at 2:51 am
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    I will forever use sharp, no one will change my mind

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  • October 12, 2019 at 10:40 pm
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    Texas calculators are pretty much a must in Sweden if ur going to gollage/university. When I study math for a year they bluntly said (buy this Texas calculator) which cost $100+

    Lucky you can buy a lot of them secondhand in Sweden. I bought mine new but my friend bought the same model secondhand for $40 cheaper !

    Reply
  • October 13, 2019 at 4:31 pm
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    At my school (UK) it's almost entirely Casio calculators

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  • October 14, 2019 at 5:20 pm
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    What you get for that $100 is a piece of technology that will last you for well over 10 years – taking you from middle school through college and which will have a resale value of about $50 – 1/2 of what you spent, at the end of that 10 years if you care for it. You spend almost a $1000 on a cell phone that works for maybe 2 years before becoming outdated, and typically has a resale value of about $5.00. In the grand scheme of things, it isn't that expensive, and for even 1 year of school use, works out to a little less than a $1.00 a day.

    Reply
  • October 16, 2019 at 3:46 pm
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    One word GREED.

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  • October 17, 2019 at 7:16 pm
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    not only in USA, in EU too lol this is just company bs

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  • October 18, 2019 at 8:38 pm
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    I mean, as long as you can download games onto it, the price is right.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2019 at 6:27 am
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    Alright I did HS with calculators and now I’m struggling in college. IMO calculators should not be allowed until HS and in HS it’s allowed after full understanding of a topic such as trig.

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  • October 22, 2019 at 5:39 pm
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    I was already skeptical when I heard that we have to buy a 120€ calculator.
    You can do most things on phones with sometimes half the price, my cheap phone that worked for 2 years was more worth than this shit calculator.
    Its kinda sad to see that the teachers dont even understand that you cant just pay 120€ outta nowhere.

    Reply
  • October 24, 2019 at 12:51 am
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    Because they get you a SHIT TON on pussy.

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  • October 25, 2019 at 6:48 pm
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    Watching this on my Casio FX-CG50

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  • October 27, 2019 at 12:44 am
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    They could at least put a faster chip in it by now. It probably wouldn't even cost them anything to upgrade it to something from this century

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  • October 27, 2019 at 1:48 am
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    7 fookin minutes, just answer the question…bye

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  • October 28, 2019 at 10:50 am
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    So I was brainwashed/indoctrinated into thinking that Texas Instruments was the best of the best of calculators as a child.
    I'm not even shocked.

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  • October 31, 2019 at 2:29 am
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    Yeah, well my Casio is way better.

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  • November 4, 2019 at 12:04 am
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    US and allowing monopolies, name more iconic duo

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  • November 4, 2019 at 11:50 pm
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    People hate on TI. And I admit their business practices were self serving. But I owe it to them. They put a programmable machine in my hands at a young age. CS teachers today are worried because students raised on tablets don't even understand what a file system is. Tablets and phones have gone too far into the passive consumption side of things. They are now akin to TV with a bit more interactivity. Primarily they are a mechanism to feed us our online dopamine hits. On some level, at least for a few years, I think students should suffer through the limited devices TI has on offer. It will make them understand computation in a way that a graphing app doesn't.

    Reply
  • November 7, 2019 at 2:16 am
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    Legend has it there’s a secret code that stops time in order for the student to take as long for the test as he needs! That’s why TIs are expensive. Casio calculators, on the other hand, can be used to summon a sushi chef.

    Reply
  • November 8, 2019 at 12:13 am
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    Thanks TI. I used the TI-82 in school and all I learned to do was memorize button sequences to get the right answer.

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  • November 8, 2019 at 3:39 am
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    470 HP calculator fans disliked this video

    Reply
  • November 10, 2019 at 1:17 am
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    This should be a law:
    When the school season is approaching, ALL expensive electronics like laptops or graphing calculators are to drop by at least 25% of the original price.

    Reply
  • November 11, 2019 at 2:08 pm
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    They are so expensive because they can only sell to schools. They only have a limited customer base, so they charge the crap out of them. Once you get to university (here in Germany. In the USA they do similar scams.) or to the job, no one actually buys or needs a calculator anymore, because you can use apps or PCs which are insanely more capable than a stand-alone calculator (which is the exact same reason why schools [and some universities] enforce to use calculators, so that they can control what students are able to do with them).

    Reply
  • November 11, 2019 at 2:45 pm
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    I went to school (Gymnasium, that is High Schools equivalent in the USA) here in Germany, and finished in 1988. That's before most of the story started in the video. The video makers missed some history. Because TI had already set up a drug dealer cartel deal within schools for NON-graphing scientific calculators before 1988. At one point (when I was at school, long before 1988), we had to get one such beast. We could either get a TI-30 through the teacher, or some approved equivalent somewhere else. I got a Casio (actually more than one over the years, but that's just because I'm a math and science geek and like calculators.)

    I learned at some point that the teachers were getting a cut from each deal. TI already had a massive foot in the door, and were already killing their competitors in the school market before the graphing calculator came to be by Casio and others by having teachers acting as calculator mules.

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  • November 13, 2019 at 5:41 pm
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    That TI-81 at 1:31 is almost identical in appearance to the TI-84 I just bought this year for school, and it was released in 1981. Why is this acceptable?

    Reply
  • November 14, 2019 at 12:43 am
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    I used TI calcs in college.
    Nothing special. Crappy screens. Mediocre capabilities.

    Reply
  • November 15, 2019 at 12:10 am
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    THE Ohio State University. #GoBucks

    Reply
  • November 18, 2019 at 9:07 pm
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    I'm so glad that my Casio fx-82ES Plus is only 15$ and not 100$. Calculators are only allowed at Science classes in Russia, and we don't need all that plotting thing.

    Reply
  • November 19, 2019 at 4:33 am
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    In the '70s and '80s, I used calculators and TI sucked. Casio and Sharp were better, Casio was the best. With that said, this is 2019 and I can't believe that there is still a market for these things. It's like looking at a B&W TV or using a slide rule.

    Reply
  • November 21, 2019 at 12:58 am
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    A graphing calculator’s appeal it to graph things? NO?!

    Reply

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