Wednesday, December 7, 2011

TI-8x Calculators

I wasn't sure about putting these up. How obselete are they, exactly? I keep changing my mind. I mean, these particular ones are obviously not the newest models. The TI-85 came out in 1993. It's brain is the Zilog Z80 microprocessor, which was released in 1976! (A stripped-down version of the same chip powers the original game boy.) Certainly they're pretty pathetic in terms of computing horsepower compared to, say, an ipod touch.

But almost every calculator TI made up until 2007 looked and behaved nearly identical to these. Most students aren't aware of the newer, graphics-capable calculators. Many teachers and proctors won't allow anything other than a TI-8x series calculator to be used for math testing. Many student's phones are dozens of times more powerful than these machines. Of course, their limited capability can be seen as a strength - it's hard to use them for cheating. But the newer calculators certainly take such considerations into account - why haven't they displaced the likes of the TI-83 in the classroom?

Maybe we reached the peak of calculator technology lo those 20 years ago. They may not be powerful, but if they do the job, does it matter? Math problems probably aren't going to get more difficult - at least not the ones we use to test students.

What do you think - why are we still using these things?

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