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How the TI-84 Plus Became Americas
Most Popular Graph Calculator - A Brief History
Ever had to sit an SAT or ACT test, which included
AP math or calculus? Thinking of going in for an engineering, sciences, or math
degree in college? Then, chances are you already know about the TI-84 Plus
series of graphing calculators. They may have looked complex to you at first,
but, as time went by and you got used to their features and functions, you
realized just how great they are, insofar as making your life in class goes.
Today's post explores the history of the TI84 Plus, the most popular range of
graph calculators from Texas Instruments.
A bit of
background on Texas Instruments
TexasInstruments (or TI, in brief), may be known
to you for their TI calculators; however, at a larger scale, they are actually
also one of the worlds largest manufacturers of semiconductors. Components
made by TI are sold to just about all the major electronics designers and
producers the world over. The company, founded in 1930, under the name of
Geophysical Service Inc., is publicly listed with the NASDAQ-100 and S&P 500
indexes. It is third only to Intel and Samsung on the global ranking of
semiconductor manufacturers by production output and it is second to Qualcomm
as a chip supplier for mobile phones.
The company switched to its current name in 1951,
after the mother company, Geophysical Service, was reorganized. The former
enterprise used to produce seismic equipment and electronics used for defense
systems. Early on in the 1950s, likely prompted by the new realities of the Cold
War era, TI started researching transistors. It was around that time that it
designed and released the first silicon transistor to be sold commercially, as
well as the first transistor radio (1954). Other notable inventions which we owe
to the Dallas-based company include the integrated circuit (1958), and the
worlds first ever computer based on integrated circuits (produced in 1961 for
the US Air Force). Aside from researching infrared technologies, radars, and
missile control systems, in 1967, TI introduced the hand-held calculator.
By the 1980s, the company was largely focused on
producing consumer goods, like digital clocks and watches, as well as
calculators and computers. Interestingly, also during the Cold War era, but
toward its 1980s finale, TI also produced an old English language translator,
initially priced at $150, and based on its 1979 release, the talking Language
Tutor. Though innovative, thanks to its Solid Speech Module, the
product eventually tanked. Its most notable pop culture presence remains
recorded for posterity, on the 1981 album Computerwelt / Computerworld,
released by German electronica pioneers Kraftwerk.
The Texas Instrument defense segment was purchased by another company in 1997. Meanwhile, throughout the 1990s, the company reached new heights, as its line of hand-held calculators was becoming increasingly popular with programming students.
The emergence of
the TI-8x series
TI calculators like the TI-81 were already on the
market, when the demand for graphing calculators saw a boom in the 1990s.
Programming was becoming trendy and the TI 83 was the first ever hand-held
calculator which included native Assembly. Its predecessor TI 81 was able to
create simple programs through its BASIC language interpreter and the subsequent
TI 85 was the first to allow Assembly. With the advent of native Assembly, users
could run programs and games similar to those on a PDA or Gameboy. As the world
became more and more interested in the Internet and programmers started to
publish their work on Angelfire and GeoCities-based websites, the online
community of Texas Instruments calculator users gained momentum. It reached its
pinnacle of popularity in the early 2000s - which is right before the company
released its most popular device to date, the TI 84.
The TI-84 Plus
Unlike with its predecessors, the TI-84 line
featured no original device called as such. It does include the TI-84 Plus, as
well as two other calculators, which we will describe in a bit more detail
below. It is not exactly the cheapest device of its kind, but you can find it on
sale, at a less expensive price, on Amazon, or find a vendor to sell it
refurbished, on eBay. Just make sure the vendor does not cheat you out of extra
money, for a calculator which needs repair. Alternatively, in my experience, you
can also probably buy it for cheap, on sale at Walmart or Home Depot. You can
get a full 50 percent discount at times there and they also offer coupon price
cuts and seasonal back-to-school deals. On the plus side, you can also buy extra
accessories, like stands or cases, from official vendors - not to mention the
fact that you benefit from a full warranty, too.
Outside of school use, there is more than just
one review out there which says this a great tool for financial operations, such
as working out lump sum payments on mortgages, rent and interest rates, and so
on. And aside from calc, graphing, finance applications, office use, and other
things it is good for, it is also a top choice for games - especially for math
geeks. You can play Tetris, Monopoly, Pokemon, Mario and other free to download
ROM games off this super cool device. First off, however, let us list a few key
facts about the TI-84 Plus flagship scientific graphic calculator:
It is based on the TI83 Plus, which can be easily noticed from the
relatively identical keypads both display.
Vs the TI-83 Plus this is a far better value device, owing to its updated
specs and parts
Larger Archive : about 3 times
Faster CPU by 2.5 times
Added features: a native clock
function and a USB port
A miniature version of the TI-84
Plus, with a smaller keyboard, was released in France (2011), as the TI-84
The TI-84 Plus Silver Edition
Upgraded the TI-83 Plus Silver
This calculator features the same
type of processor and the same amount of user-available RAM as its forerunner
Devices with the letter H or later
in the product code run on less RAM, which may cause software malfunctions
Uses 4 AAA batteries
Comes with several pre-installed
apps, which are also available for the TI-84 Plus, but only via download from
the manufacturers website
Also available in yellow, with the
inscription -School Property-, to be borrowed by students from school
Features several available
accessories, which can be purchased separately, like a kickstand case, colored
face covers, and others.
Available in several cover colors,
including blue and pink
- A miniature version of the TI-84 Plus SE was released in
Asia as TI-84 Plus Pocket SE.
The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition
First revealed in a tweet (which
went unnoticed for about a month), in October 2012
Comes with a high-res 320 x 240
Keystrokes are compatible with
several other math and programming tools
Aside from the typical I/O link
port, it also features a mini-USB
The TI-84 Plus CE
newest and possibly the best of all graphics calculators in the TI84Plus line,
this device will represent an important update to the present line. The
graphical calculator will likely feature the latest in advanced calculation
technology, according to the TI84 wiki page description. Since prices and
reviews for it are not yet available, it is hard to compare it to its
predecessors, although a comparison will definitely be in order once it is
Previewed in January 2015, but not
yet released as of this writing
Will retain the same resolution
color screen, key layout, and rechargeable battery
Will drop the I/O link port and
move the charging LED
The OS appears to be incompatible
with that of the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition
Allegedly, the TI-84 Plus CE will
come with 150KB user-accessible RAM and 3.0MB of Archive memory.
Using the TI-84 as a quadratic solver
the level at which the TI 84 is typically used (from the junior year of high
school and upward, throughout college), many users end up scratching their
foreheads when it comes to solving a quadratic equation. We are here to tell
you that part of the TI 84s popularity is the fact that you can easily use it
as a quadratic solver. We have devised a set of tips, tricks, and instructions
- a sort of quadratic equation tutorial for dummies. It might not look as
simple as a game, but you do not know what it is actually like until you try it.
Here are the simple steps that our instruction guide requires:
1: Press the PRGM button, then the twice, get to 'New' and choose 'Create New'.
Name your operation (something to act as a prompt for 'quadratic equation'
is probably preferred). Then press, followed by 2. Press ALPHA for letters.
Enter A, B, C, and press Enter.
2: Enter the formula as seen in the above picture and
remember to use the Negative button before the first B. Store the formula with
STO. By this point, you have made the equation equal to X, by entering plus the
square root of B squared. Since the TI-84 does not have a plus or minus button,
you are going to have to enter the equation as two separate operation. The two
are highly similar, save for a few easily noticeable key differences.
3: To display the answers, push PRGM, then , then 3. Open the
quotes (ALPHA, then +), type 12 spaces (space is ALPHA, then 0), x = close the
quotes. For the = sign, press 2ND and MATH (TEST). Pres ,X,Y.
Do not press CLEAR, as this will delete your entire line.
Press 2ND, then MODE (QUIT). Press PRGM, select the quadratic solver,
hit enter and insert desired values for A, B, and C. Bear in mind that the
quadratic equation formula is
you have replaced all your variables with their actual values, press Enter and
find the solution.
TI Connect and beyond
2001, riding the wave of growing Internet popularity, Texas Instruments decided
to make its calculators that much more interactive. It launched TI Connect, a
software solution which allows data from TI calculators to be transferred onto
PCs and Macs via a cable. This effort, centered on giving users the possibility
to run the occasional backup, was the company's second foray into this field,
following the defunct TI-Graph Link program. Released some 6 years after Windows
95, it was still the first attempt TI ever made beyond the 16-bit paradigm used
in earlier versions of the operating system. The TI 84 works fairly well with
the software, given the fact that they were released only 3 years apart.
However, several models of older Texas Instruments calculators are not
supported, such as the TI 82 and 85. Newer devices will often experience
software lags, usually caused by the slow transfer connection between the
computer and the calculator. 64-bit systems are particularly plagued by such
issues, which TI only addressed in late 2009, when it came out with a patch to
this end. Newer graph calculators, like the TI 89 and TI Nspire also encounter
frequent unexpected errors, which has prompted the user community to recommend
using them in conjunction with the TI Send To sub-app rather than with the main
you can try a virtual T84 emulator online. Where can you find them? Plenty of
websites offer such a simulator, ready to help with any calc problem or graphs
you might need to solve for school. TICalc is a still-active website that offers
such services and there are also several good iOS and Android apps you might
want to try out. Do not forget to share any website or downloads with the rest
of our readers. Also, aside from the issue of cost, let us know if the mirage of
online tools can compare to an actual hand-held manual TI-84 Plus calculator.