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2023-06-14 19:30:47

Why Are Texas Instruments Calculators So Expensive [LGR Tech Tales Addendum]

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The T I 83 chances are if you've been in high school or college , sometime since 1996 you've had at least one experience with it or one of its T I 80 something siblings .

But the question is why , why is it that in America , especially Texas instruments , graphing calculators are so ubiquitous .

And why do they still cost $100 or more in an age where apps and websites outperform them ?

Well , the answer lies back in 1985 the large scale calculator wars of the 19 seventies were over , but the biggest players were still competing for the niche markets of science and education .

It was in 85 that Casio released the first commercially available graphing calculator , the FX 7000 G .

The appeal of the graphing calculator was its capability of plotting graphs .

Go figure .

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In addition to the scientific functions of computing devices .

It was also programmable , letting users create their own automated calculations and detailed graphs .

In 1986 sharp released their own version of the graphing calculator the 5200 and that same year , the scientific calculator wizards at Hewlett Packard did the same with the H P 28 C .

But curiously , Texas instruments didn't get into the graphene calculator game until 1990 with the T I 81 .

And there's a good reason for that too .

So here's the setup .

Texas instruments basically invented the handheld four function calculator in 1967 and continued to innovate throughout the seventies .

So they were well known in the United States for being the go to calculator company .

But it wasn't until 1986 that something changed the course of education history .

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The state of Connecticut submitted an order for 10,000 T I calculators all at once that got T I to stand straight up and take notice .

But more on that in a moment because simultaneously , there was a growing debate over the use of calculators in the classroom , especially with the advent of graphing calculators .

Those opposed to them assumed they would result in lower quality learning with students simply calculating the results and ignoring key concepts .

Those in favor , saw graphing calculators as eliminating the need to waste time with paper and pencil computation and instead focus on developing real conceptual understanding as the debate continued .

The calculator and computer pre calculus project or C two PC began at Ohio State University in 1988 designed to provide professional instruction for educators on how to integrate calculators into the classroom .

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C two PC proved successful in turning the tide in favor of graphing calculators in schools expanding to other college campuses and even a yearly national conference renaming themselves to teachers teaching with technology or t three in 1992 .

And guess who the largest financial backer of the program was at that point ?

He guessed it , Texas Instruments .

So let's go back to 1986 and that massive order of calculators .

Well , you see , at that time , the folks in Texas decided to look into the educational market , hard core because obviously there was a huge demand .

But the debate over whether or not these things could even be allowed in the classroom had them waiting until the right time to even release one .

The right time quickly became apparent in 1989 with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics proposing the curriculum of evaluation standards for school mathematics .

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This called for the national standardized use of classroom calculators from four function calculators in kindergarten to graphing calculators in high school .

With this set to go into effect in 1991 it was time for T I to take action .

At that point , Cassio's machines were the most common graphing calculator in schools .

So Texas instruments based their ti 81 design on the existing Casio design while tweaking and expanding on its capabilities to set themselves apart .

So that helped ease people into these new machines .

But the truly brilliant move was that they already had the influential T three program on their side , Texas instruments in turn used this influence to push their own products in the name of education .

With T three becoming known colloquially as the church of T I .

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They also had a highly circulated newsletter , online news group scholarship programs , workshops and a hotline called 1 to 800 T Cares that proved hugely effective in making T machines the most comfortable choice .

They also used this influence to get their products shown in tons of school textbooks with steps on how to solve problems .

Exclusively showing ti calculators on the pages .

This influencing of teaching standards has also ended up creating a resistance to change in the following years because a generation of students and teachers are so used to using ti calculators at this point that switching to something new seems downright disruptive .

The result was a near monopoly on the graphing calculator market with many schools adding ti hardware to their supply lists and standardized testing boards using ti calculators as one of the few sanctioned devices .

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Not only that , but due to the larger marketing presence , competing calculators became thought of as cheaper inferior devices even though they were often more capable than tis offerings .

And even in the current day where apps and websites can easily one up a graphing calculator .

The fact is that most schools and testing places don't allow these during tests due to concerns of cheating and the like .

So the domination of T I continues , of course , this is all rather simplified , but this is basically why a calculator with hardware that's barely changed in 20 years still costs a premium .

Why schools require them even when it shuts out some lower income students and why there's just one brand that as of 2014 controls 93% of the market .

So apparently there's something to be said for money , influence and marketing .

And Texas instruments is a prime example .

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You know , the best part about these calculators was just putting games on there .

I put Tetris on mine and Snake and all that stuff .

I need to do a video on that sometime in the future .

I mean , you could do it with Casio's too , but it was the T I stuff that had the most programs , which was another bonus if you were like me and like hacking these things and whatnot .

But if you enjoyed this video , then , well , thank you very much .

I , I enjoyed you enjoying it somehow .

And there's also more here if you'd like to click them as well as other videos coming around every Monday and Friday here in L G R .

There's also Twitter and Facebook and Patreon for doing social stuff and supporting the channel and seeing videos early .

And as always , thank you very much for watching .


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