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Wed Sep 3, 2014, 12:13 PM

The unstoppable TI-84 Plus: How an outdated calculator still holds a monopoly on classrooms

Disclaimer: as a TI shareholder, I think this is just great.

So, are there a bunch of new numbers now that didn't exist back in 2004?

A few of the commenters mention their HP calculators that run on RPN. I have several, including an HP11C, an HP12C, two HP15Cs, and an HP41CV. I bought one each of an HP11C and and an HP15C on clearance at Best Products, because they were old. the HP11C was $5, and the HP15C was $10. That was in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

You can get RPN calculator apps for devices that run on the PalmOS, so I'm sure that new devices can emulate RPN calculators too.

Hat tip, this morning's Express.

The unstoppable TI-84 Plus: How an outdated calculator still holds a monopoly on classrooms

By Matt McFarland September 2

In the ruthlessly competitive world of technology, where companies rush the latest gadget to market and slash prices to stay competitive, the TI-84 Plus is an anomaly.

Texas Instruments released the graphing calculator in 2004, and continues to sell it today. The base model still has 480 kilobytes of ROM and 24 kilobytes of RAM. Its black-and-white screen remains 96×64 pixels. For 10 years its MSRP has been $150, but depending on the retailer, today it generally sells for between $90 and $120. The only changes have come in software updates.

Amazon calls the TI-84 Plus a No. 1 best-seller. Texas Instruments says that this year the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition has become its best-selling calculator, and that the TI-84 is its most popular family of calculators. The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition is slightly more expensive than the base model, has a color screen, rechargeable battery and significantly more memory.

Even with a 320×240 pixel screen, 128 kilobytes RAM and 4 megabytes ROM, overall the TI-84 line of calculators appears unnecessarily expensive given the components. Apple — which is notorious for high margins on its products — sells an iPod touch for $199 that comes with 16 gigabytes of memory and a four-inch screen with a resolution of 1136-by-640 pixels. That’s a dramatically better piece of hardware with a less significant gap in price.

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Reply The unstoppable TI-84 Plus: How an outdated calculator still holds a monopoly on classrooms (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2014 OP
exboyfil Sep 2014 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Sep 3, 2014, 04:25 PM

1. TI-84

is the highest end calculator allowed on the ACT. That alone is a compelling reason for its popularity. A properly programmed calculator can mean 3-5 points for a marginal student in math (my assessment knowing its capabilities and prepping my daughters for the ACT). It also pushes the highest end for many classrooms (for example my daughter could use it for Calculus I and II, but not a TI-89).

The question becomes why doesn't a low end producer enter the market with a $40 version. One reason is that they might not get the approvals associated with a TI-84. In a sense TI has a monopoly on several big markets.

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