Thursday, November 20, 2008

A forgotten pet peeve

The TI-83 pisses me off.

Remember the TI-83? Introduced in 1996, it was a mainstay through middle and high school. Not only could it get you through various math and science classes, it was also programmable in some form of BASIC; sufficiently bored and gifted students could write simple games to keep themselves occupied. Even if you couldn't write programs yourself, there were ways to get them onto a calculator, or you could type them in yourself if you were really bored.

Fast-forward to 2008; desktop computers are maybe a hundred times more complex than they were in those days. Tremendous advances have been made in every field of electronics. You can speak into your cell phone and have it search Google for you, for crying out loud. Nearly every device out there has come a long way since 1996 - except for the TI-83.

One would think that Texas Instruments, at some point in the last 12 years, could have found some way to upgrade the venerable old graphing calculator. And, one would be right; they've come out with a series of successors, with successively improved specs. The successors do not piss me off. For example, there's the TI-Nspire, which has a CPU 25 times faster than the TI-83, about a thousand times as much memory (and I wish that was an exaggeration; if anything, it's an understatement), and a much nicer display. It retails for about $140, which I find wholly reasonable.

Given the huge difference in specs, you'd expect that the TI-83 would cost next to nothing these days, right? Wrong. Somehow, in sheer defiance of the laws of the marketplace, not to mention common sense, the TI-83 still retails for about $100, not significantly less than it did all those years ago. Looking at the prices, it's hard to imagine that the Nspire is capable of going head-to-head with an entire classroom full of TI-83's.

I don't know how, but somehow the TI-83 is stuck in an eddy of history, refusing to acknowledge that better technology has long since passed it by. And, for reasons I'm not totally sure I understand, this really ticks me off.


Kiriska said...

The TI-83 is so cute in its defiance though. XD

Frank Church said...

The Church apologizes for not keeping up with your last couple of entries. (Very busy week.)

...I have a TI-89, which sometimes gets used in stats, but never in algebra. Yay proofs! So no complaints about the TI-83 from me!