The TI-83 Graphing Calculator

Ah, the old graphing calculator. Remember this beauty?

Is there anybody who didn’t use one of these in math class? I don’t remember how it came up, but I was feeling nostalgic for calculators. It’s kind of funny to think that these pillars of our childhood are a thing of the past. Who bothers with a dedicated calculator anymore? I mean, your average phone can do everything this big clunky beast could do and then some, while also providing a million other, more complicated functionality (even just the ability to make phone calls, to name the most basic).

I started wondering if they still had graphing calculators, since probably everybody in high school has smartphones by now anyway. What version number are they up to? How ridiculously cheap are they now?

Imagine my shock when I discovered that, not only is the TI-83 still the graphing calculator of choice, it actually costs MORE now than when I was in school ($150, on sale for $90!). How in god’s name can they get away with charging roughly the same as for an iPhone? The calculator hasĀ 32 kb of Ram and a 6 mhz processor. No phone, no wifi, no camera. No color touch screen for that matter. They actually use this picture in their sales brochure:

So what gives? They’ve been churning these things out for 20 years; they can’t cost more than a couple of bucks to make at this point. How can they get away with this?

Apparently I’m not the first one to notice. Just scanning the first few comments:

Where does TI even find suppliers that make components this out of date? Actually, maybe that’s why this thing is so expensive. The components are so old that scarcity is a big problem.


So then I downloaded a FREE graphing calculator app on my outdated Android phone. And it’s friggin marvelous: instantaneous, intuitive, will do a 3d graph of x=sin(y) (3x faster than the ti does sin(x)) that rotates in full color with ability to pan and zoom on the touchscreen.

This makes my (dated!) phone exactly 88 times as fast with 6000 times the memory. … Then I could zoom out 10 times, take a screenshot, and email it to you, just because I can (in 30 seconds).

Come on, school districts. This is ridiculous. Wake up and don’t put up with this extortion. They weren’t that great back when I was in school (although you could play some wicked head-to-head Tetris in class if you had the little cord).