The great state of New York offers a special Regents Diploma for high school students that demonstrate a certain amount of competency across core high school subjects.

I’m not ashamed to say that the Regents math courses really challenged me. One thing that kept me going was the promise of getting a sweet, sweet TI-82 graphing calculator once I made it to the third course. At the time, the TI-82 might have been the most valuable thing I owned. I remember it cost a little over $100 and represented a pretty significant sacrifice on my family’s part.

It was money so well spent though. I mean, you could play games (Drug Wars mostly)! And, like, do really hard math and stuff! And the screen was sharper than a Game Boy’s! And it all sort of fit in your pocket!

Truly, had the great mathematicians of human history witnessed the power of the TI-82, they would have wept.

There’s just something that doesn’t make sense. Since that time, technology has improved rapidly, which isn’t a surprise. Hardware has gotten smaller. Processing power has increased. Everything is faster and more efficient, and prices for previously unimagined technology fall over time.

Unless you’re Texas Instruments, and you sell your TI-84 graphing calculator for a little over $100, or, you know, about as much as a similar calculator cost in the late 90s. At least now the screen is in color, I guess.

 

Stolendroids isn’t the first to realize something’s weird here, and you can read more about why the price of the TI-84 is stuck in a time warp here and here.

It comes down to weird forces in education. For instructional efficiency, schools need students to use somewhat consistent learning tools. Beyond that, fear over cheating is real, meaning that educational boards and examination agencies aren’t too keen on allowing students to use the far more powerful phone already in their pockets for their graphing calculation needs since those same devices connect to the internet. It’s a shame too. In comparison, there are all kinds of great free graphing calculator apps that students could use.

Texas Instruments is a business. It’s not a problem that they make money. It does feel a little gross though how they’re content to overcharge families paying in the name of education for technology that was surpassed a long time ago.

 

Mil Ruko

Mil Ruko read a lot of comic books as a kid and watches a lot of TV and movies as an adult.