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Why are graphing calculators still expensive?

emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
Remember these from high school? I bought a Ti-86 for pre-calc and calculus back in 1998 for high school. I used it some in college for statistics but mostly I just needed it for solving for a vertex or somesuch. I paid $89 for it back in the day.

Considering how technology advances push down prices, why are graphing calculators immune? I mean, there must be cell phones available with twice the processing power at a quarter of the price, right?


Can you imagine a TNT2 card or a Pentium 3 at $150 each today?

Post edited by emnmnme on
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Comments

  • MechMantisMechMantis Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Because TI knows that people will pay just about any price to get something that's required for a class.


    If they weren't required by most high school math classes, their price would most likely drop.

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  • gleep-glopgleep-glop Registered User
    edited November 2007
    You think that 24KB of RAM grows on trees?

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  • revolutionary beanrevolutionary bean Registered User
    edited November 2007
    gleep-glop wrote: »
    You think that 24KB of RAM grows on trees?

    At this day and age, they should be.

  • SilvoculousSilvoculous Registered User
    edited November 2007
    I swiped myself a TI-83 Plus off a desk at school a few years ago, when, after two days, it was clear that someone had lost it.

    I wouldn't have even paid $50 for this. Makes me wonder why the graphic calc isn't going the way of the cell phone, so far as continuous addition of features goes.

  • EvilBadmanEvilBadman DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Remember these from high school? I bought a Ti-86 for pre-calc and calculus back in 1998 for high school. I used it some in college for statistics but mostly I just needed it for solving for a vertex or somesuch. I paid $89 for it back in the day.

    Considering how technology advances push down prices, why are graphing calculators immune? I mean, there must be cell phones available with twice the processing power at a quarter of the price, right?


    Can you imagine a TNT2 card or a Pentium 3 at $150 each today?

    Because some high school math teachers actually require the little shitter for their classes. It's quite hilarious when taken out of context.

    Also: Holy Shit, a FORUM for TECHNOLOGY?

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  • EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2007
    MechMantis wrote: »
    Because TI knows that people will pay just about any price to get something that's required for a class.


    If they weren't required by most high school math classes, their price would most likely drop.

    Ding ding ding.

    I live in a college town, so there always seem to be a graphing calculator or two on craigslist. It's a shame that some company doesn't get into the graphing calculator business with a low cost (shit, or even a same cost) device with better features - a color screen, better input, USB port, etc.

    The only problem is, so many high level math classes are standardized around specific models of Texas Instruments calculators.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    EvilBadman wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Remember these from high school? I bought a Ti-86 for pre-calc and calculus back in 1998 for high school. I used it some in college for statistics but mostly I just needed it for solving for a vertex or somesuch. I paid $89 for it back in the day.

    Considering how technology advances push down prices, why are graphing calculators immune? I mean, there must be cell phones available with twice the processing power at a quarter of the price, right?


    Can you imagine a TNT2 card or a Pentium 3 at $150 each today?

    Because some high school math teachers actually require the little shitter for their classes. It's quite hilarious when taken out of context.

    Also: Holy Shit, a FORUM for TECHNOLOGY?

    Well, this can fit here since there all kinds of wonderful games available for a Ti-86. Like Breakout and that worm game where you can't touch your tail.

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  • KVWKVW Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Uh, it must be an American thing with the required Texas Instrument calculators in high school. My high school didn't even allow a normal calculator for our math, particularly calculus and other advanced courses.

  • RatheRathe Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    emnmnme wrote: »
    ] I used it some in college for statistics but mostly I just needed it for solving for a vertex or somesuch. I paid $89 for it back in the day.

    You're lucky when I was in college years back my math class made me pay for a model that was about $150 dollars and we used the graphing feature for about 1 week. To be fair though we had a ton of games going around and you could hook two of them up to play 2 player tetris. My school was dumb and allowed people to use those calculators for pretty much any exam so there was also rampant cheating with people storing tons of their notes and forumlaes on the things.

    The cost hasn't changed because of economics basically. Companies will charge what people are willing to pay, not what a product is worth. For graphing calculators they know you need them for specific types of classes so they know you will pay pretty much whatever they feel like charging. Lowering the price isn't going to really net them any extra sales so there is no incentive for them to do so, thats why they have cheaper non-graphing calculators.

    What it comes down to is these things haven't changed in price because people are still willing to pay the same amount of money for them. Obviously there is a lack of suitable competition for this type of market.

  • khainkhain Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Einhander wrote: »
    The only problem is, so many high level math classes are standardized around specific models of Texas Instruments calculators.

    This is the problem, there are better calculators out there than the TI ones, but when everyone in your class uses a TI and so does the TA and professor its way easier to get help if you also use a TI.

  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    KVW wrote: »
    Uh, it must be an American thing with the required Texas Instrument calculators in high school. My high school didn't even allow a normal calculator for our math, particularly calculus and other advanced courses.

    The idea of doing trigonometry without a calculator strikes terror into my heart.

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  • dasnoobdasnoob ArkansasRegistered User regular
    edited November 2007
    One of the teachers here required students to purchase a TI-86 for a college algebra course. A complete waste of money. I always enjoyed taking my dad's HP-48GX to class since it freaked everyone including the teacher out.

    HINT: the HP-48 series of calculators use Reverse Polish Notation the operators follow the operands. So instead of 2 + 2 you would type 2 2 +. Teachers in general are NOT used to seeing this and it freaks them out.

  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    KVW wrote: »
    Uh, it must be an American thing with the required Texas Instrument calculators in high school. My high school didn't even allow a normal calculator for our math, particularly calculus and other advanced courses.

    The idea of doing trigonometry without a calculator strikes terror into my heart.

    I had to do a cosine without a calculator once. Utter brutality, I'm pretty sure it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to start with, and forgetting to convert to radians the first time didn't help. In the days before calculators, these were typically done with tables. Very, very long tables.

    Also, I preferred not to take seventeen hours to do regressions on a couple thousand points of canned data in physics.

    There's a more important reason than requirements that keep them expensive - even where they aren't required, they're still just as expensive. There's only four major manufacturers, two of which (Casio and Sharp) don't make very good calculators (I bought a Casio at $70 to save some money, and it constantly frustrated me because its statistical regressions were all inaccurate). Most stores only carry TI models, and HP are even more expensive than TI.

    For an interesting note, any TI graphing calculator lower than the 89 is highly similar to the original black and white Gameboy in hardware. The typical cost of a Gameboy these days is, what, about $5?

  • setrajonassetrajonas Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    dasnoob wrote: »
    One of the teachers here required students to purchase a TI-86 for a college algebra course. A complete waste of money. I always enjoyed taking my dad's HP-48GX to class since it freaked everyone including the teacher out.

    HINT: the HP-48 series of calculators use Reverse Polish Notation the operators follow the operands. So instead of 2 + 2 you would type 2 2 +. Teachers in general are NOT used to seeing this and it freaks them out.
    I love Reverse Polish. I would borrow my dad's calculator for exactly the same reason. Tangentially, what sort of career was he in?

  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    gleep-glop wrote: »
    You think that 24KB of RAM grows on trees?

    You think oxygen grows on trees?

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  • catalystcatalyst Registered User
    edited November 2007
    This thread is blowing my mind, these things a waste of money? A bit overpriced, yes. Waste? No. The displays are seemingly low-tech because these devices run on batteries. Who wants to charge their calculator?

    I bought a TI-83 in 7th grade and used it up until my freshman year of college. I just recently upgraded to a TI-89 Titanium and it has paid for itself in convenience. I guess if you don't do higher level math on a daily basis, it IS a waste of money.

    Calculators like the TI 89 this are essentially Maple in your (very large) pocket or backpack. I couldn't live without mine, even though it only has like 4mb of memory =)

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  • EWomEWom Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    KVW wrote: »
    Uh, it must be an American thing with the required Texas Instrument calculators in high school. My high school didn't even allow a normal calculator for our math, particularly calculus and other advanced courses.

    The idea of doing division without a calculator strikes terror into my heart.

    Sadly I am not a math person. Numbers make my brain melt. I can seem to handle learning just about anything else, but put some numbers in the mix, especially numbers with letters, and I just fucking can not do it :( I can add/subtract. I can't multiply in my head, the only reason I can is because I know the answers to the problems. I don't know that 6x6=36, I've memorized that that is the correct answer. So if it's anything other than the standard table then I break it down so I can add up all the broken down answers. I'm so bad at math it makes me sad.

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    The goal of our founding fathers was freedom. The goal of our current politicians is control.
  • djklaydjklay Registered User
    edited November 2007
    catalyst wrote: »

    I bought a TI-83 in 7th grade and used it up until my freshman year of college. I just recently upgraded to a TI-89 Titanium and it has paid for itself in convenience. I guess if you don't do higher level math on a daily basis, it IS a waste of money.

    Have to agree here, I had one in 9th Grade, I think (about 93?) and used it all the way to my 2nd year university math for Comp Sci. It was expensive but I still have it today and it still works fine. Sure it may not look pretty but it did everything I ever needed it to and probably would have carried me into advanced math if I ever wanted to torture myself.

  • MalaysianShrewMalaysianShrew Registered User
    edited November 2007
    Shit...When I was in high school I was the only one in my Geometry class without a TI calc of some sort. Hell, I didn't even have a basic calc. We had a trig test one time and no one would let me borrow their calc. I had to do the whole test, designed for use with a Ti-86 mind you, with only a trig table. The amount of long division I did was disgusting. Those things are worth what you pay for them if you are planning on taking any math past intro to algebra. And statistics without one of those bad boys? You'd have to bust out a laptop.

    As for taking calc classes without them. I know some schools are still living in the 50's and expect you to do everything by hand, but here in the modern age we have technology to help us. My college calc classes were a step backwards from my high school calc class. Linear regression by hand? I've got better shit to do. Like learning more calc instead of wasting my time doing shit by hand 1000 times over.

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  • catalystcatalyst Registered User
    edited November 2007
    ^

    My University Calculus classes have a strict no calculator policy for tests/exams. For homework, they encourage use of hardcore graphing calculators and mathematics programs.

    To their credit, most of the intense problems requiring arithmetic are set up only, not solve.

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  • FreddyDFreddyD Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    catalyst wrote: »
    ^

    My University Calculus classes have a strict no calculator policy for tests/exams. For homework, they encourage use of hardcore graphing calculators and mathematics programs.

    To their credit, most of the intense problems requiring arithmetic are set up only, not solve.
    My POS TI 83 broke my freshman year of college and I never replaced it. I was able to get by with a $5 scientific calculator, even though I had enough high level math classes to get a minor.

    The tests were almost always no calculator and you could use math software for the homework.

  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I never had to buy one, I just borrowed one from the school.

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus IT'S DARE! Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Because Texas Instruments has essentially a monopoly on graphing calculators in education for some reason.

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  • FreddyDFreddyD Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I bet my cell phone could do the same calculations as a graphing calculator can without any problems. But schools are already banning them so that will never get off the ground.

  • HalberdBlueHalberdBlue Registered User
    edited November 2007
    I use an HP calculator as well... RPN is awesome for three reasons. The obvious one being that its in every way superior to putting in 2 + 2 = etc. because you never have to use parentheses and wondering if your answer was wrong because you screwed up parentheses somewhere. The second is that because of this, you can see how an answer changes as you perform the different operations on it, and I'm convinced that this has helped me understand better as I gain an intuitive feel for how manipulating numbers works (once as a part of a running joke I decided to approximate pi in terms of sixths and got it accurate to like 15 digits or something fairly quickly and I blame it on this). And finally is that nobody else knows how to use it so they never ask to borrow your calculator (I keep it to myself that you can turn it back to "normal").

    Why all graphing calculators don't use RPN is beyond me.

  • BoutrosBoutros Registered User
    edited November 2007
    Graphing calculators are, in my experience, a high school only phenomenon. In college in my engineering, physics, and math classes either you have access to excel/mathmatica/matlab or you don't need anything more than a scientific calculator. I saw more TI 8Xs and HP 48s in high school (god I miss my old 48GX, I hope the son of a bitch that stole it is rotting in hell) than I do in college, lots of people just use an HP 33s or a 10 dollar cheapo calculator.

  • CrashmoCrashmo Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I think the best thing my calculator(TI-81 platinum or some crap like that) was for...was when I wrote a program on it for shopping. It had a simple menu for adding or subtracting items, and it always displayed the total at the bottom. They were good for homework sometimes, but almost never allowed on tests.

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  • expendableexpendable Silly Goose Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Shit...When I was in high school I was the only one in my Geometry class without a TI calc of some sort. Hell, I didn't even have a basic calc. We had a trig test one time and no one would let me borrow their calc. I had to do the whole test, designed for use with a Ti-86 mind you, with only a trig table. The amount of long division I did was disgusting. Those things are worth what you pay for them if you are planning on taking any math past intro to algebra. And statistics without one of those bad boys? You'd have to bust out a laptop.

    As for taking calc classes without them. I know some schools are still living in the 50's and expect you to do everything by hand, but here in the modern age we have technology to help us. My college calc classes were a step backwards from my high school calc class. Linear regression by hand? I've got better shit to do. Like learning more calc instead of wasting my time doing shit by hand 1000 times over.

    This is why I have such calculators.

    Say you have a complex integral. Yes, I can evaluate it by hand. But, I can do integration by parts three or four times, probably with liberal use of the chain and product rules, which sucks a lot (it sucks slightly less if the integral is a polynomial multiplied by some other function -- Kronecker's method FTW) OR I can type it into the TI-89 and have it spit out an answer in a few seconds. Same goes for matrices, fuck finding the inverse of anything more than a 2x2 matrix.

    There's innumerable other reasons too, but those are the two I've been running into most the last couple weeks. FWIW, I also make liberal use of integral tables.

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  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I wouldn't mind spending $100 on a calculator if it was a bit easier to fucking use.

    How is it I can build computers no problem, but not even know how to store a number to 'X' as in 2X = an actual integer that I put into X.

    I now know how to do that via the store key, but not without using these fuckers for 5 years. =/


    Also, why do the screens suck so much? They cannot have at least a higher resolution? I mean, I don't care about color LCDs or anything, but the pixels are just huge on these fuckers...

  • canemaquiluscanemaquilus Registered User
    edited November 2007
  • 0blique0blique Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    While it's true that the screen and the processor are not exactly the latest technology, you got to give them credit for the battery life you can get. I've had my TI-85 for maybe 6 or 7 years, and I'm still using the original batteries, even with fairly regular use. Not many cells phones will be able to top that.

  • jlrxjlrx Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    catalyst wrote: »
    This thread is blowing my mind, these things a waste of money? A bit overpriced, yes. Waste? No. The displays are seemingly low-tech because these devices run on batteries. Who wants to charge their calculator?

    I bought a TI-83 in 7th grade and used it up until my freshman year of college. I just recently upgraded to a TI-89 Titanium and it has paid for itself in convenience. I guess if you don't do higher level math on a daily basis, it IS a waste of money.

    Calculators like the TI 89 this are essentially Maple in your (very large) pocket or backpack. I couldn't live without mine, even though it only has like 4mb of memory =)

    couldnt do on the TI-89 what I can do in maple. So no!!

    I had a nice TI-89 Titanium till I lost it, I then moved onto an HP-50G , so far so good, but I perfer maples glory.

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  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I am sitting here using my TI-89 Titanium to perform rref functions on matrices. I've had this thing for a year now, and it's definitely paid for itself in terms of sheer convenience.
    If I was doing Computer Science and Engineering (and thus required to take circuits), I'd only be allowed a TI-30a (or whatever you prefer to call those scientific calcs) for most of my courses next semester. However, I am a Computer Science major. I'm not required to take the same types of courses, and I'm allowed to use my graphing calculator for most any math course left in my education (with exceptions for certain tests and such, of course).

    I do agree that the calcs should probably be a lot cheaper. But it's a one-time purchase, they last for freaking ever, and the software they run is quite well designed. I do not grudge TI the extra money. It's peanuts compared to tuition and/or the combined cost of my textbooks, anyway.

    Edit: TI-89 really isn't like Maple. I prefer to think of mine as a sort of [more] modern, portable Apple II.

  • devolvedevolve Registered User
    edited November 2007
    It's not just graphing calculators, it's specialized calculators the world around. Financial calculators cost about 80 fucking bucks, and does an 1/8th LESS than your graphing one. Take that!

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  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I used my TI-89 (which was pretty awesome) almost entirely for playing a roguelike.

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  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited November 2007
    I had a TI-82.

    It was awesome for playing tetris on.

  • SirUltimosSirUltimos Don't talk, Rusty. Just paint. Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    the only time I've ever had to use a graphing calculator was in high school when it was provided by the school. they would have never expected us to buy a $100+ calculator ourselves.

  • ToyDToyD Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I used my TI-89 quite a bit, even up through vector calculus. Hell, I think I used it more for vector calculus than anything else. We were not allowed to use it in regular calculus at all, and higher engineering problems required iterative solutions (thus required excel).

    I used the SHIT outta that thing for the longest time in both HS and college. Especially in math/physics/engineering. A LOT!!! of those classes is just getting down to the solution, but being ABLE to solve something with a regular calculator is fine. I dunno about you guys, but my classes were often time limited in test sessions and any time saved using a calculator was time spent on the next problems.

    I still have that thing in a drawer somewhere. Haven't used it much since college, but I surely used the hell out of it then.

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  • DigDug2000DigDug2000 Registered User
    edited November 2007
    Boutros wrote: »
    Graphing calculators are, in my experience, a high school only phenomenon. In college in my engineering, physics, and math classes either you have access to excel/mathmatica/matlab or you don't need anything more than a scientific calculator. I saw more TI 8Xs and HP 48s in high school (god I miss my old 48GX, I hope the son of a bitch that stole it is rotting in hell) than I do in college, lots of people just use an HP 33s or a 10 dollar cheapo calculator.
    That was pretty much my experience too. I have a physics degree, but I don't think I used a calculator ever in college. Mostly because after a point no one cares about putting real numbers into equations. In fact, they'd rather have the general equation with no numbers in it, than an actual answer.

    Shit, even when we do have to do some basic calculation now, we usually round things so that we have 8 x 10^15 instead of 8124874392487387.

    That said, I've seen a lot of engineers who can't seem to live without the latest and greatest from HP. So I think maybe that's just a science/math phenomenon.

  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited November 2007
    I had a TI-89 back in high school. I bought it in 1998 for my chemistry class, and also used it in Algebra II/Trig. By used, I mean to say I played games on it, of course. That thing had 16 shades of gray, which made it about as good as any old school gameboy. I remember having the transfer cable that plugged into my serial port. I had Tetris, Mario and Pheonix. Come to think of it, I don't remember doing anything math-related on that calculator, just gaming.

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