Sunday, March 14, 2010

Death of a Calculator.

Time to play "The Last Post" and "Flowers of the Forest" for the venerable TI.

Schools have been buying TI-84s for their students for years now. TI-83s before that, or 85s or 82s. I believe that the game has fundamentally changed.

The iPhone app store has a graphing calculator app for $0.99. It's not perfect ... yet.

The comments from buyers ask for intercepts, regressions and a few other things but the days of 92 x 68 dull gray pixels is close to over.

I say "Good Riddance."

For far too long, TI has coasted on its laurels, allowing a once-perfect idea to gradually fade into a crappy has-been of technology. The TI is slow, expensive, big, cumbersome and limited to the buttons at hand, though the Non-Inspiring Inspire does allow you to change the faceplate. The screen resolution is the same as was available in 1990 with the TI-82, for crissake. Twenty years and practically nothing new!

I was wondering when someone would produce an app for the handheld device many of them carry already. It has color, better interface, finer resolution, quicker graphics, you name it.

No school should bother purchasing more TIs. Let your current ones be augmented by those kids who have a smartphone and the ITs will break or kludge down at about the same rate as your students proportionally get smartphones.

Look at these screenshots from the AppStore. So far, and I stress that this is only temporary, the TI competes with this thing. The TI has too many nifty things built in for this guy to compete with. But! How long will it take for him or someone like him to mimic every useful TI function? Not too long.

The kids need to develop an understanding of cellphone etiquette, fair use, proper use -- something that schools are just going to have to deal with. We can't put this off. This issue will be front-burner next year (2010-2011, for anyone reading this in the archives) if not for exams this year.

That'll be another post.


  1. Last Friday I wrote 2 posts about calculator use:

  2. Yeah, I read those - I especially like overflow. Haven't had anyone answer the question with "Overflow" yet.

    I have to use a lot of problems like that for the SAT prep class. Since the test can be taken without a calculator, all of the problems must be solvable by hand. ETS, therefore, had to make questions that befuddle calculators but allow for paper solutions.