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Inspiration 2128

Thank you, dear Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus

Why do calculators still exist? Smartphones are smaller and just as good, aren’t they? My answer: Because I’m not allowed to take my smartphone to semester exams. Before writing this article, I wondered if smartphone apps really perform as well as my calculator. Today, I know: The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus is a fantastic device.

Calculators are annoying; they create loads of problems that didn’t exist in times when exams were calculator-free.

Then again, they’re rather handy devices. Especially if you’re taking maths exams at uni. I’m studying economics; getting the TI-84 Plus calculator was a recommendation by my professor. So I did. That was over two years ago. The TI-84 Plus is a graphic calculator that’s packed with functionality.

TI-84 Plus (Batteries)
CHF 126.–
TI TI-84 Plus (Batteries)
Give mathematics a go
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Maths and I have never been a good match. I’ve struggled a lot with maths in the past – just like I did with my new calculator. I attended a preparatory course before my studies because I was so bad at maths. That’s where I was introduced to the TI-84. The TI-84 Plus can do almost anything. Ok, anything except gaming Snake. How cool would that have been?

Error, error and another error

In the course of my degree, I was forced to take a course in business informatics; a discipline that requires calculating a minimum or a maximum value as part of most tasks. Mathematicians know: It’s all about setting equations equal to zero. So far so good. To do this, the TI-84 Plus has a function called «Solver». However, when I gave this function a go, the Solver didn’t solve any of my problems, but created new ones. «Syntax error» appeared on the screen every time I tried to solve an equation. I was doing something wrong. I started from scratch. New response: «Equivalent Error». Another error.

The only reason I didn’t sling the calculator out of the window was that it cost me a small fortune.

Reading is a helpful skill – even in maths

That’s how I felt towards my new calculator for months – until I read the user manual. That was the moment when I realised what the TI-84 Plus likes and what it doesn’t, that it matters which minus sign you put in front of a number and where the brackets go. And much more.

You can’t count on the TI-84 Plus when you need to make a phone call.

I faced a maths exam this semester. This time, it was all about derivations, integrals and equations. Having failed previously, I spent hours preparing. The exam took place on a Saturday morning – who on earth would schedule a maths test for a Saturday morning?!

Lucky me

My preparation couldn’t have been much better: I worked through a few exercises on Friday afternoon and I drank a lot of water – as I was told to.

But then, all of a sudden, I accidentally tipped over my glass of water and spilt it onto – what else – my calculator.

Several scenarios shot through my mind. The first one was: The TI-84 Plus is a programmable calculator. I received programs from my professor and fellow students and installed these programs on my calculator. And I used them extensively. I was familiar with programs such as the fool proof tool for solving quadratic equations.

«Now it’s all down the drain», was my second thought. «Hours before I’m supposed to take an exam…Nooooooo.» And then: «How am I supposed to get a new calculator within a few hours?» After deciding not to panic, I carefully dried the TI-84 Plus off with a towel.

That’s when I discovered that a small miracle had occurred: It still worked. Unbelievable. The TI-84 Plus was calculating along quite merrily – as if nothing had happened. As if it hadn’t even noticed my attempt to drown in it water.

What happened after that? I took the exam. The calculator worked a treat. And it still does.

Thank you, TI-84 Plus. We used to be enemies, now we’re friends. Do you have any calculator stories to share with us? Let us know by commenting below. :)

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Livia Gamper

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Experimentieren und Neues entdecken gehört zu meinen Leidenschaften. Manchmal läuft dabei etwas nicht wie es soll und im schlimmsten Fall geht etwas kaputt. Ansonsten bin ich seriensüchtig und kann deshalb nicht mehr auf Netflix verzichten. Im Sommer findet man mich aber draussen an der Sonne – am See oder an einem Musikfestival.

21 comments

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User Canavar

2 + 2 is 4 minus 1 thats 3 quick mafs

08.02.2018
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User Loris1993

The ting goes skrrrahh
I tell her man's not hot

09.02.2018
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User ShadowS

Dass man Spiele darauf programmieren kann, wurde nicht erwähnt ^^

07.02.2018
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User firefox_mozilla

Tetris und mittels Connector-Kabel gegen Mitschüler gamen. Das waren noch Zeiten.

08.02.2018
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User Anonymous

Konnte scho diverse Taschenrechner ausprobieren, unter anderem TI Voyage 200, Ti nSpire CAS, aber am aller besten hat mich der HP Primer überzeugt. Dieser hat ein grosses Farbdisplay, Touchscreent, viel einfachere und intuitivere Bedienung als der Ti nSpire CAS und auch vom Preis her nur halb so teuer wie der nSpire.

08.02.2018
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User jorgenbergstrom

1995 - Abschluss meiner naturwissenschalftlichen Matura in Schweden und das TI-81 war absolut notwendig - sogar ein wichtiger Bestandteil der Prüfung. Heute, was, 23 Jahre später sieht der "neue" Teil fast genau gleich aus. Take about avoiding disruption. Nostalgie pur! Danke für die Erinnerung!

08.02.2018
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User uberrice

Der TI-84 ist auch total veraltet. Wird in Schulen einfach verwendet "Weil es schon immer so war". Die 'neuere Version', die mittlerweile aber auch schon gut.. 6 jahre? alt ist, ist der nspire CX

09.02.2018
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User CaptainHowdy

Bei uns musste man noch die Gleichungen von Hand lösen, da war nur ein Nicht-Programmierbarer Taschenrechner an der Prüfung erlaubt. Da ich von der Mittelschule einen TI-89 hatte, konnte ich den nicht gebrauchen (ausser zum Snake spielen, das ist nämlich möglich mittels zusätzlicher Software).

08.02.2018
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User Axonteer

Ich hab immer noch meinen Treuen TI-89 Titanium ohne den treuen Krieger ich mein Studium nicht so einfach gepackthätte. Tja Ingenieurswissenschaften eben, da reicht das smartphone nicht aus ;-)

09.02.2018
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User michaelköl

Zu meiner Zeit zwar noch kein Grafikrechner erlaubt. Trotzdem nutzte ich hauptsächlich einen HP 28S, später HP 48. Ich liebt deren Eingabeart ohne Klammern. Ich fand die (pixeligen) Graphen cool. Und heute schaue ich den 48er an, denke an früher und leg ihn wieder weg.

09.02.2018
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User schillinger

Mein 48GX werde ich auch behalten. Ich hatte während des Studiums unzählige Stunden mit ihm verbracht!

11.02.2018
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User ahirschi

Während meiner Lehre als Tiefbauzeichner, habe ich mir 1982 den Casio PB-100 geleistet. 1985 kurz vor der Abschlussprüfung ist ein Lastwagen darüber gefahren - aber das Ding läuft heute noch. Dank dem Casio habe ich Freude am Programmieren gefunden und die Informatik zum Beruf gemacht. Danke Casio!

09.02.2018
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User maurizio

Wer einen Taschenrechner bei der Arbeit braucht (so wie ich), weiss, dass das Handy nicht ganz bequem ist: Physische Tasten sind ein MUSS!!! Touchscreen ist für sehr wenige Berechnungen nett, aber nicht auf Dauer!

09.02.2018
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User Anonymous

Anstatt dass uns die Lehrkörper (auf Stufe Sekundar- und später Berufsschule) nicht gleich mit DEM Tool aller Tools in der Engineering-Szene (EXCEL - jawohl!) ausgebildet hätten, hätten wir Tonnen von Batterien und unnützem Gadgets sparen können - und damit einen echten Beitrag für den Umweltschutz....

14.02.2018
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